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What Anger Tells Us

Mar 17, 2023

Anger has the capacity to either destroy a relationship or save one. How can one emotion be so destructive and yet have the potential to save a relationship? It all depends on how that anger is used.

Anger functions as a signal to let us know about our current state of being. All emotions are signals of one thing or another, but generally speaking, anger sends a signal that something is not good. Anger occurs when something is wrong. You asked someone to do something important, they promised to do it, and then they broke their promise. You ask someone a question, and they lie to you. You see some form of injustice occur. All of these things will cause anger because we are observing something that is going wrong.

When anger is developed toward healthy functioning, it is regulated in a way that will ultimately serve us well. This is one way in which anger must be distinguished from its close but very different cousin: rage. Rage is a state that hasn't been developed into something that can be regulated. Rage has a tendency to take over our state of being. Anger has the potential to be regulated, and thus can be useful.

Think about anger is a sort of instrument panel for life. You wouldn't fly a plane without an instrument panel telling you about the current altitude and weather conditions outside. Anger is like that. It tells us what is going on. Ignoring it will lead you to the wrong place, and whether that becomes rage or despair, it won't be a good place.

Key Takeaways

-Anger has the potential to motivate us toward a healthy response when something is wrong. It is a signal that we can correct a thing that is breaking down, or not going the way that it ought to.

-Anger can come from external sources: someone does something wrong, that anyone would say is wrong. This anger can help us to set and enforce our boundaries. "I don't like it when you do that." "When you do that, I don't feel like I can trust you." "When you do that, I feel pushed further away from you."

-Anger can come from internal sources: we get angry with ourselves because we do not met up to our own self-set expectations, or we give in to some type of pressure or betray our own values.

-Remember: "The immature person asks life to meet their demands. The mature person meets the demands of life." Anger is a problem when someone thinks, "Life is not meeting my demands." This is part of growing. If you're angry because you have immature demands, you learn to resolve them, and you grow from it.

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