Virtually everyone has said something in anger that they wish they could take back. Unfortunately, it is often too late to undo the damage that results from mean words or spiteful actions.
Anger is sometimes referred to as a ‘secondary emotion’ as it is an extension of the primary emotion of frustration. Anger is a natural, emotional and physiological response to negative or threatening circumstances in life. When you believe that you have been treated unfairly or harshly, or when you experience frustration associated with an unmet need or goal, your mind and body prepare for action. It has the potential to help us protect ourselves or others and can serve as a catalyst to bring about needed change. However, its relative value is largely determined by how we choose to respond to it.
Destructive and Constructive Anger
Anger may be a healthy, normal emotion, but when it takes over an individual’s life – especially if it is destructive, violent or explosive anger – it’s a big problem. The issue is as old as man himself and has been acknowledged in works of literature, religious scriptures and wisdom throughout the ages. The Bible says, “Be ye angry, but sin not”. This teaches us that anger is an emotion we all feel at some point in time, and that anger itself is not the villain, but that what we do when we become angry is what defines whether or not anger is destructive or constructive.
Interestingly though, some studies indicate that controlled anger may have certain benefits. Psychologists say possible constructive aspects of anger can include:
- Causing entire cultures to change for the better e.g. women’s suffrage movement.
- Fueling political agendas.
- Finalizing business deals.
- Clarifying relationship problems and sometimes strengthening relationships.
- Giving people a sense of control during uncertain situations.
However, what makes anger so dangerous is that it can occur so quickly we’ve lost control before we even realize it. People sometimes refer to it as the ‘red mist’. It is an issue which affects all generations, races and communities. In fact, anger does not discriminate – it has the potential to impact anyone without prejudice. Not only does the anger destroy the individual but it also impacts everyone and everything around them and is frightening for those who have to live with it every day.
Because it is such an important issue in society today, people are continuously striving to develop programs to help those affected by anger-related issues. Through understanding the 5 stages of anger: cognition, emotion, affect, communication and behavior, one can minimize the damage and take back control. Controlling anger is considered anger management.