Anger is a potent and useful emotion. Yet it can also be destructive and inappropriate. The strength and appropriateness of anger depends on the emotional maturity of the person feeling it.
Anger that comes from being triggered may very well be inappropriate to the situation and unjust to another person. Especially if you’re unaware of your triggers and their root causes, and have yet to explore far along the path of Self-Knowledge.
For instance, a woman may feel a lot of anger and resentment towards a father who abandoned her, and then be triggered when her husband doesn’t respond to a text message quickly enough and take it out on him. This kind of anger is misdirected and inappropriate to the situation. Instead of blaming her husband for her emotions, it would be far more helpful to be curious and explore where her anger actually comes from. Unprocessed emotions can be highly destructive to ourselves and our relationships, often tragically so.
Yet on the other hand, when properly understood and directed, anger can be used to purge toxic and abusive people from our lives. And just as importantly, ensure that we ourselves never repeat these abuses.
Anger can help us to break the cycle of abuse.
Anger is both a sign that something is wrong, and a way out. When put into action, emotionally mature anger can help you make sweeping and lasting changes to your life.
The source of unprocessed anger
Most of our unprocessed anger comes from childhood, because children in particular struggle with anger towards their parents’ abuses. This is because anger directed at one’s parents is in almost all cases dangerous. Few parents create a safe environment for their child to express anger. As a result, the child finds themselves in a situation where they are being abused or subjected to some injustice, yet their dependence, vulnerability, and weakness prevent them from expressing their emotions fully out of a terrifying fear of death.
How can you tell someone how you really feel about them if upsetting them can lead to abandonment and put your very life in danger?
Thus, such anger may manifest itself in other ways. Children who are not allowed to express their anger towards its source may act out or act in these emotions. They may become violent or join the military, seeing in their enemies the parents that they could never express their anger towards. Or they may take it out on themselves, through addictions, self-harm, and putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Absence of anger can lead to depression
Repressed anger – anger that is not allowed to be felt – can quickly turn to depression. My two favorite definitions of depression are “Anger without enthusiasm” and “Emotional paralysis”.
Depression usually comes from a muted response to a set of horrible circumstances, and is often a result of a loss of connection to our emotions and our subconscious. Since our emotions are the lens through which we feel the world around us, without that connection, we find ourselves wandering aimlessly and without hope, unable to improve our situation. Yet anger can often be the key to our salvation, giving us the sufficient e-motion (energy in motion) to get out of our depression-inducing circumstances.
So the next time you feel angry, don’t just lash out and don’t repress your anger either. Be curious and ask yourself why you feel angry. See if your anger is an appropriate response to a current situation, or rather the triggering of unresolved and unfelt feelings from the past.
And remember that anger can be a good friend when it comes to purging toxic people from your life.