Anger gets a bad rap when pitted against its more positive counterparts of happiness, calmness, or even the not so positive sadness. Maybe because we believe that anger is violent and harmful. It is considered destructive. But, from an evolutionary perspective, all emotions are appropriate in certain circumstances when experienced at an optimal degree. Even Jalaluddin Rumi, in his poem ‘The Guesthouse’ says:
“The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
Given the acknowledgement, how about we tell you why it is actually good to get angry? Here we go!
- Anger is a survival mechanism. Our emotions are tools through which we engage with different situations in the world. And anger is a primal one, which keeps us safe from danger. We get angry when our boundaries are violated. That’s a sign that we are unsafe. Think of how you felt when you were denied a promotion you deserved. Or got yelled at in front of team members. Angry, right? It is the fight response which drives us to be vigilant about threats and sharpens our focus.
- Anger provides a sense of control. Given that it is a protective instinct, it helps us feel in charge instead of feeling By displaying anger appropriately, we can claim what’s ours or withhold from others who act against our welfare. It’s a way of protecting what belongs to us.
- Anger releases tension. That’s why we are often asked to not bottle up our feelings. Else we have pressure cooker moments. When we are angry, we experience physical and emotional pain. The anger pushes us to do something about it – usually, cope with the stress by releasing the tension in our body, in the process, calming our self. That’s why we could feel calmer after expressing anger.
- Anger highlights our belief systems. We feel angry when our values are not in harmony with the situations we face. Think of the times you felt something was unfair or unjust. Anger makes us aware of our beliefs and personal values. It also pushes us to take action to find better value fitment. That’s why it’s important to hire people who have similar values as the organization.
- Anger sharpens emotional intelligence. Most of us avoid anger. But those of us who are willing to experience the discomfort of emotions such as anger and grief, are able to tap into their inherent wisdom. We learn about ourselves more, and it presents an opportunity to rewire thought patterns that are unproductive. Such people are emotionally intelligent, adaptive and resilient.
Having said all this, everything in optimum doses is ideal. Anything more or anything less is imbalanced. And if your anger tips towards the ‘too much’ scale, here are some ideas for damage control.