“Anger is a fuel. You need fuel to launch a rocket. But if all you have is fuel without any complex internal mechanism directing it, you don’t have a rocket. You have a bomb.”
Gil Schwartz, Men’s Health, July 2006
It’s a fantastic, mobilising emotion, that prepares our bodies for ‘flight or fight’. Without it, our cavemen ancestors wouldn’t have stood a chance against their predators, empty of adrenalin they wouldn’t be able to run like the wind, or find that extra energy to fight.
So anger is a good thing?
“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.”
Absolutely – and fast-forward to modern times, it is the emotion that allows you to fight for changes in the world, be an advocate for those you love and respect, and succeed where you would otherwise have lacked motivation to act.
So why can it cause so much bother then?
“If anger is not restrained, it is frequently more hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.”
Anger becomes a problem when it harms those around you, when it is dealt with inappropriately.
Consider a time when you were able to express your anger, and then let it go, moving on. For example, a situation like, the time when someone cut your car up on a road. You were able to express how you felt, sound the horn and say what you needed out loud. At that point your anger is expressed, and your anger thermometer, which has gone up, is able to come down and regulated once more you are able to move on.
Consider a time when you weren’t able to express your anger- in the past if it wasn’t allowed, or you felt you couldn’t, what happens to it? You might find, as an adult you have an ‘over-reaction’ to a trigger that other people seem to be able to manage without such a reaction, you might find yourself getting locked into sarcastic responses, or refusing to talk to someone.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
So how can Counselling help?
“Every criticism, judgement, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.”
Marshall B. Rosenberg
Counselling can look at the balance of your life – to gain an understanding of the areas that put extra strain creating a shorter fuse. It can help you identify triggers, understanding your body’s signals of what is about to happen. Recognising what contributes to your build-up of tension, exploring alternative responses, motivating and supporting you in putting these into practice can be incredibly empowering.
In counselling you won’t be judged, instead you will be understood. Without judgement you can look at what need is being unmet in you, the reason behind such strong feelings. Knowing that need is so important, as you now have an opportunity to respond to it.