Is anger a positive or negative emotion? Let’s think about all the occasions when anger has dominated us; how we have acted, probably out of control and the consequences.

It seems easy to answer, doesn’t it? Negative, you must be thinking. That’s why we must learn to control it. But the question is tricky, because although it is hard to believe, it is both positive and negative. We tend to classify emotions at one end or the other, but the truth is that they are all adaptive, they all exist because they fulfil a function. Even anger? Yes, even anger.

Related article: “How to control anger? 7 keys to managing it”

What exactly is anger?

Anger, which we can also call anger or rage for convenience, informs us that something is not right so that we can defend ourselves. How? By increasing our tension, by activating ourselves so that we can take action , either to complain to a friend about how much it bothers us that he is always late and never lets us know, or to tell our boss that he cannot ask us to have a report ready for the next day, because we need at least a week.

What others do, ask or demand of us, sometimes leaves us in a compromising and uncomfortable situation where we struggle between what is right and what we would need to do. With the above examples, many of you will have identified with them, but you will probably have found fault with them: “if I say that to my friend he will be angry with me, maybe it is better that I am also late and that is it” or “if I say that to my boss he will fire me”. You’re right. And you’re not. Let me explain to you why.

The phases of anger… and how to escape its grip

If it’s the first time our friend is late or our boss asks us to work all night to meet a deadline, we’ll be annoyed, but we’ll put up with it, because it’s no big deal, right? But if it has really bothered us, that tension is not expressed, that is, it is not released .

Therefore, it accumulates. When we get home after a day of dogs, we are irritable and at the slightest bit we jump. Who hasn’t been paying with another person for the anger we have been accumulating all day? That’s the tension I’m talking about. It doesn’t go away. In the same way that we blow up a balloon more and more and more… until it finally explodes .

When anger takes over our brain

When the explosion takes place, we are outside ourselves and it is precisely then that it becomes more difficult to control ourselves, because that is what we have been doing up to that point. Or at least that’s what we think we’re doing, but drowning, ignoring or burying our emotions is not really controlling them. To be able to do so, we must first know and understand them.

The vicious circle of anger

In order to better understand anger, the first step is to discover what it is made of. On the one hand, we have the things that bother us, whether they are the behavior of others, events that occur around us and seem unfair and/or uncontrollable, or concerns, memories of past situations that still provoke anger, etc. In order to identify what are our causes of anger, it is enough to answer the following question: What makes me angry?

When we have a list or we have thought of some time when we have felt this way, we will go to the next level: what do I think when I get angry? We may go blank, feel like it’s an overwhelming problem that we can’t deal with, and have thoughts in absolute terms: “It’s always the same to me” “He’s never going to change” “He’s never there when I need him” “I can’t trust anyone”. This is the cognitive component, it refers to everything that goes through our mind .

Effects and consequences of outbursts of anger

What do I feel in my body when I get angry? I bet nobody will feel relaxed. The heart beats more strongly, we have difficulty breathing or hyperventilate, we tremble, our hands sweat… We are referring to the physiological component.

With these thoughts and these bodily reactions, how do I usually act? I yell, argue heatedly, insult, threaten, push, throw objects, leave without explanation, slam the door, cry, etc. This is the behavioral component, the way I deal with the situation once it has overtaken me, how I release the accumulated tension.

As you may have guessed, these components are not independent , but they are related and influence each other. If I am thinking that the situation has no solution, that they are always taking advantage of me, etc., the way I perceive reality will be distorted, because I will only realize what is convenient for me at this moment, that is, how unfair people are, how badly they treat me, how angry I am… because they will be arguments that will prove me right. While the positive aspects will go unnoticed by me.

This will make my nervousness, my tension increase, as well as my bodily reactions, alerting me to what is happening. If I let anger get the better of me at this point, my behavior will surely be excessive, hurtful, and even violent. This will bring nothing but negative consequences. Not only family, social or work problems, but also negative feelings about myself .

Several keys to learning how to manage these emotions

How could I have acted that way? How did I get to this point? The idea we have about ourselves and how we behave will change with the new information. We may not know who we are or what we are capable of doing in a tense situation.

That is why the first step towards anger management is to answer the above questions, by reflecting on what I think, feel and how I act about it . It is important to keep in mind that it is not the behaviour of others that provokes our anger, but the way we react to it.