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GOOD FOR YOU

Anger is calming, it gets us moving

Moderate anger good, extreme anger bad.

In Summary
  • It is the kick in the behind people need to get off their butt and move on to things that don’t make them lose their rag.
  • This can trigger optimism because when we’re angry, we often feel positive about our ability to change the situation.

We tend to think of anger as not good.

One reason anger gets a bad rap is we associate it with violence. Another reason we disapprove of anger is the aversion to it is embedded socially, culturally, and in religion—though I’m not clear why religion has a problem with anger. I mean, in much of the first season of the Bible, which is to say in the Old Testament, God got angry plenty; what with the smiting, and the fire and brimstone aerial bombardment, the extermination of firstborns in the land of Egypt, et al.

Suffice to say, extreme anger is definitely bad. Moderate anger, on the other hand, is not bad at all. Some scientists and psychologists have even gone further and said getting angry is actually good for you.

From an evolutionary viewpoint all emotions, including anger, have a purpose. In the case of anger, it evolved to protect us against aggression. Anger is the ‘fight’ in our fight-or-flight response. It was necessary for our survival as we evolved and even though evolutionary survival doesn’t feature much in our day-to-day lives, anger still serves the same purpose; that of looking out for our welfare. It is for this reason we erupt when denied out rights, or when faced with insults, disrespect, injustice or exploitation.

Before we move on to why anger is good for us, there are a couple of things I should clear up about anger. The first one I’ve already mentioned but it needs repeating and that is; moderate anger good, extreme anger bad.

The trick to managing anger constructively is to treat it as you would fire – left unchecked it burns down everything. When used wisely, it illuminates.

Second, there are people you cannot flip your lid at. These include your wife; I shouldn’t have to explain why. And matatu crews, mkokoteni operators, boda boda riders, it will almost certainly lead to violence with these ones.

Bossy bosses don’t make it to my list of people you shouldn’t visibly and verbally be angry at as I have issues with authority. In a nutshell what I’m saying is, to quote Aristotle, ‘…be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way.’

Let us now proceed to the benefits of getting angry.

Anger is calming and cathartic. When angry you feel like you’re taking control instead of feeling helpless, hopeless and depressed. This helps relieve stress by first discharging the tension in your body which in turn calms your nerves.

Anger energises and motivates us. It is the kick in the behind people need to get off their butt and move on to things that don’t make them lose their rag. This can trigger optimism because when we’re angry, we often feel positive about our ability to change the situation, and change in most instances leads to self-improvement.

 

Anger also pushes us to reach a deeper self. Psychologist Bernard Golden says this of anger: “It is a response to an unmet expectation. Behind anger is a threat to some key desire.” Embracing anger therefore, instead of avoiding or repressing it, provides insight into our desires and motivations. That can’t be a bad thing.

The trick to managing anger constructively is to treat it as you would fire – left unchecked it burns down everything. When used wisely, it illuminates.