Understand what anger is and use it as a tool to improve your life.
by Ed Daube, Ph.D.
The message of anger is that you perceive a threat that you can eliminate if you throw enough power at it
I worked with incarcerated young women whose anger led them to hurt themselves or others.
I also tend to get angry when I have a goal and things don't go the way I have planned.
Here is what I taught them and what I do..
Anger is a primary emotion which helped us survive as a species. All humans experience it.
The message here is that your anger is a normal part of you and it is okay to be angry.
Emotions like anger and anxiety happen because of how each of us perceives what is happening to us.
All emotions, including anger, have a unique message. This message gives you a clue about how you interpret or make sense of what is happening to you in the moment.
The message of anger is that you perceive a threat that you can eliminate if you throw enough power at it. This is why you get all energized and want to lash out, hurt someone, beat up the computer, or, if your kid is pinned under a car, lift up the car.
Anger never makes you do anything, it gives you the energy to do whatever you decide is needed.
Here is how you use this information..
When you get angry, ask yourself, "What is the threat I believe I am facing?"
If the threat is "real" and involves your life, your family, your finances, your reputation, use the energy of your anger to develop an effective plan to eliminate the threat. This is how organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers get formed.
If the threat is to your ego or the way you think things should be, or it is something you can't do anything about, then you can decide that it is not a real threat and does not require immediate action.
When you do this, your anger will decrease.
It takes practice to do the above and it is not easy. It is, however, doable.
I hope that helps.
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