Anger – destructive force or enabling constructive change?
We tend to think about anger as something destructive, and of course it can well be. When we are violent or abusive, bullying or intimidating, then that has a destructive effect on both others and ultimately on ourselves too. We can feel bad about ourselves and out of control.
Yet just suppressing angry feelings, may not always be the answer. We can do it in the moment, but the angry may be simmering under the surface and re-emerge in fresh situations. Perhaps we get overly angry with a loved one, when our anger is really about something else - something we have tried to suppress. It comes back to haunt us; and again we feel bad.
Recognising angry feelings and trying to put these feelings into words, can be the start of a very helpful and important process. Putting things into words rather than ‘acting out’ the anger is key to this. Once we can talk about these feelings, we can reflect on them, think about where they have come from, and why we feel as we do. We can begin to understand our anger; and begin to understand ourselves more fully.
Counselling may be able to help in providing a space to explore and get in touch with these difficult feelings; and words are the tools we use to do this. Then we have both the space and the tools to reflect on and process this anger. It may be that there are things we wish to change in ourselves or our situations; it may be about coming to terms with things that are difficult to accept.
This approach to dealing with anger can be challenging, but it aims to deal with the causes of our anger – not just the symptoms. It may be that our anger has its roots going way back into the past.
Exploring this is not easy, but it can certainly be worthwhile. If we understand ourselves better, understand how we have got to where we are now, then we can make better choices in how we go forward – more informed choices. It has become a constructive, rather than destructive, process.
Related articles from our experts
- Acknowledging our difficulties can turn anger and anxiety into self-compassion
Alessio Rizzo, UKCP Accredited Psychotherapist, MA, MSc, MBACP16th April, 2018
- Anger carries a message... do we know what it is?
Alessio Rizzo, UKCP Accredited Psychotherapist, MA, MSc, MBACP15th March, 2018
- Anger management: “How do you transform a raging lion into a purring cat?”
Shane Sneyd MBACP, UKCP & BPC17th February, 2018
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