Is There Such a Things As Healthy Anger?

Do you remember being scolded by your parents as a child for getting upset or angry about something meaningful to you? Or what about a teacher reprimanding you due to your emotions running high because someone stole a favourite pencil from your desk? But many don’t realise there is such a thing as healthy anger, which, if appropriately expressed, can benefit the individual. And the younger we learn that anger is not a bad emotion, the better we can control it in adulthood.

Why Are We Taught That Anger Is Bad?

We often learn at a very young age that expressing anger is not okay. Still, for example, if a peer cut them in the lunch line or intentionally ignored them at recess, it is justifiable why they might feel strong emotions. Yet, for some reason, adults often disregard or chastise children for being upset or angry. Therefore, reprimanding a child for feeling a particular way will only cause them to suppress their emotions and may lead to future unhealthy anger.

During adolescence, we deal with hormonal shifts and the developmental stage of seeking our identity, which is enough to trigger emotions. But add to that the stress of needing more sleep at this stage, the pressures of nightly homework, and involvement in extracurricular activities. However, many adults consider teens unruly when they are often very stressed and anxious and don’t know how to cope with their emotions.

As adults, we must allow our youth to express themselves freely without fearing repercussions. Allowing them to release their anger will help them adjust to stress, pain and disappointment more effectively.

Why Does the Word Anger Have Such a Bad Rap?

When we hear the word anger, our first association is that it’s a negative emotion. But it’s only unhealthy when we mishandle it. For example, screaming at someone, throwing things around the house, and verbally, emotionally, or physically abusing someone is unhealthy anger. Compared to screaming into our pillow, walking away, or hitting a punching bag rather than hurting someone. Therefore, there are ways we can express anger without causing harm to others.

Regardless, you might try attending a support group if you feel you’re not allowed to express your anger. It can be a great way to express your feelings without judgement. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative.

What Does Unhealthy Anger Look Like?

Everyone has experienced anger in one way, shape, or form. It can be over something minor. Or maybe your job, relationship, or family life is affecting you. But it’s about knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy anger and channelling it appropriately. So, let’s look at what unhealthy anger looks like:

Unhealthy anger hurts others – It’s one thing to be upset with someone, but another thing to take it out on them, whether screaming, name-calling, or violence. Even if the other person did or said something hurtful, unhealthy anger will never produce positive results. The individual on the receiving end will either shut down or become afraid of them. Such unhealthy anger can damage and destroy relationships.

Unhealthy anger is passive/aggressive behaviour – Unhealthy anger is not always something you can readily see or hear. In other words, passive/aggressive behaviour may come across as harmless, but it’s an intentional way to hurt someone that might not seem obvious. For example, a person might jokingly tell their spouse they might fit in their dress better if they ate less ice cream. But there is a difference between joking and constantly making condescending comments.

Unhealthy anger is letting it control your actions – As much as we may want to, we can’t control others or events. However, we can control how we react. Therefore, no amount of anger can change the circumstances. So, the best thing we can do is take control of our actions.

It is vital to get to the root cause of unhealthy anger. For example, it could be due to heredity, trauma, a chemical imbalance, or mental illness.

What Does Healthy Anger Look Like?

Healthy anger allows one to remain in control, regardless of circumstances. In other words, they won’t harm themselves or anyone else. They know the difference between reacting on impulse or facing the consequences of their behaviour. Plus, they abstain from name-calling, throwing things, or raising their voice.

In addition, healthy anger allows one to express themselves without blaming, scaring, or threatening another person. They and the other person will feel heard, respected, and acknowledged. Plus, they will resolve issues that feel acceptable to both.

How Can Healthy Anger Benefit You?

As mentioned, healthy anger allows one to express oneself with another person freely. It can benefit and strengthen the relationship, as both individuals will feel heard, gain a better understanding of the other’s point of view, and lead to compromise.

Healthy anger can also be empowering. For example, people who fight for justice peacefully are more prone to achieve positive results than violent protests. Or standing up for what one feels is best for them rather than being pushed around increases one’s optimism.

Everyone can benefit from healthy anger. It can give us insight into our point of view, motivate us to take action, give us a sense of control, and help us find a better solution.

It’s Okay to Experience Anger

Contrary to what some may have learned, anger is not bad. It is a human emotion and can be quite positive if properly channelled. So, rather than thinking something is wrong with you for experiencing these emotions and then suppressing them, know that healthy anger can benefit you more than you think.

Why Not Try Online Therapy?

Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.

Therapy through can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.

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Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments section below at any time.

Sandy Glover

Sandy is the resident mental health professional at Barty. She previously worked as a therapist, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in counselling. Sandy has transitioned to becoming a peer presenter at several mental health settings through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion for mental health is evident in her writing as a subject matter expert who draws from personal experience, professional expertise, and education to help eliminate stigma.

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