Embrace Your Anger: A Secret, Yet Powerful Personal Growth Tool
Ever wish you could get rid of your anger? That fuming, mind-twisting emotion that gets you all twisted, irrupted and out of sorts. All anger isn’t bad, in fact it can help you.
As a life and business coach, my job is to help clients to understand their power. And yes, your anger is powerful force that can help you.
In this article, we will talk about how you can use anger to help you for bigger and better things in your life.
What is anger?
First, let’s define anger. Anger is a basic, yet powerful emotion. And like all emotions, it is linked to your sympathetic nervous system during “fight, flight, fawn, fright or flop.”
Anger is an instinctive, ‘gut-based’ reaction. It is a signal that something or someone has violated your social norms, expectations, or threatened your sense of safety. Your body is signaling that something is ‘off,’ and you need to adjust either your expectations about yourself, others, or the situation.
When you ignore or suppress anger, your body can undergo various psychological and physical effects. First, we will talk about the psychological cost to ignoring your anger.
Psychological cost to ignoring anger
Many of us were trained since childhood to ignore and dismiss our feelings. The reason was that our parents or parental figures lacked the capacity and/or interest to be aware of the feelings of others. Consequently, we learned early in our lives to keep our mouths shut and ignore anything that could be considered a disturbance to our family members.
The disconnection from anger and other strong feelings can lead to more problems, as shown below in the “Anger Processing Circle” diagram.
- First, you need a stimulus. It could be someone disappointing or betraying you. Other times, you may have failed to perform in a way you would like. Either way, you are experiencing a mix of confusion, betrayal, and perhaps grief.
- Secondly, if you had a life script that didn’t appreciate healthy communication, the best and only option was to suppress or ignore your feelings.
- Thirdly, since you were not able to comprehend and deal with the situation in a healthy manner, it remains unresolved. Imagine me holding a sealed soda can while shaking it violently; just as the contents remain under pressure, so do your unresolved feelings.
- Fourth, if you did not have an emotional outburst or some type of acting-out behavior, you will enter a state of despondency.
- Fifth, that despondency, if left untreated, turns into depression. And depression is what fuels addictive or high-risk behavior.
Not all of us process anger in the same way. People with higher pain tolerances may go straight to despondency, while others may stew in sadness and become overwhelmed. Everyone handles pain differently.
Now, let’s discuss in detail what happens to your body when you ignore your feelings.
What happens when your body ignores anger
As stated earlier, if you grew up in a dysfunctional or painful home like me, you may have been taught to ignore anger or downplay its effect on your mind. Unfortunately, there are numerous problems when you ignore anger or any other strong emotion.
Ignoring anger can lead to increased stress levels. Remember the soda can example I mentioned earlier? Your unresolved anger continues to simmer within you, causing chronic stress that can impact your overall well-being. That stress can mutate cells which can lead to cancer.
To make matters worse, you may also have feelings of irritability, frustration, resentment, or even depression. You always feel teetering on the edge of sanity, lacking confidence and unable to make clear and decisive decisions.
Impaired Mental Health
Ignoring anger can also contribute to the development or the worsening of mental health conditions such as increased anxiety, depression, or difficulties in managing emotions.
I have worked with clients with eating disorders and other issues that originated from denying their past emotional pains.
Elevated Blood Pressure
Unexpressed anger can contribute to elevated blood pressure. The body’s stress response triggers the release of stress hormones, which can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure levels. If blood pressure remains high, you may be at risk for numerous health problems, such as decreased sex drive, heart attack, or stroke.
Ignored anger often manifests as muscle tension, particularly in areas like the jaw, neck, shoulders, and back. Holding onto anger can lead to chronic muscle stiffness and discomfort.
Below is a picture of me in my late 20s. If you look carefully, you will notice that one shoulder is higher than the other. I had no idea that my body was so tense!
Weakened Immune System
Prolonged suppression of anger can weaken the immune system over time. The constant stress associated with repressed anger can make you more susceptible to illnesses and infections.
If you find yourself sick more than usual throughout the year and/or staying sicker longer than normal, it could be due to the stress.
You don’t have to let anger destroy your mind or body. Next, let’s talk about how you can use anger to help, nor hurt you.
How anger can help you grow emotionally
Do not let anger destroy your body. Your anger can serve as a powerful tool if channeled and managed effectively. Below are one of several ways your anger can help you:
Anger can ignite a strong sense of determination and motivation within you. It can fuel your desire to bring about change, overcome obstacles, or stand up for yourself and others.
Instead of thinking that, ‘somebody else can do it,’ see what you can do that is within your power. This can help you to increase your confidence and take more risks to expand your business or other goal.
Anger can help you assert your boundaries and communicate your needs more effectively. When channeled appropriately, it can give you the courage to speak up, express your opinions, and defend your rights.
Do not let messages from your past destroy your present. Speak up and let others know how you feel or what you think!
Anger can sharpen your focus and enhance your problem-solving abilities. It pushes you to analyze situations more critically, find solutions, and take decisive action.
You may have negative or critical influences in your life who questioned your ability to make decisions. As such, you may have come to rely on others to solve your problems. However, with anger, if you correctly, will force you to recognize what you want and how you want to solve your current problem.
Increased Energy and Drive
Anger releases adrenaline and cortisol, which can provide a surge of energy. This heightened state of arousal can boost your productivity and drive, enabling you to tackle challenging tasks or overcome obstacles.
However, be cautious about these hormones. If left unchecked, these hormones can impair your ability to make pragmatic, logical decisions. Take a moment to breathe and evaluate your options and consequences before making a decision that you may later regret.
Anger can provide individuals with a sense of empowerment that can help you navigate through difficult situations with more ease and confidence. With each challenge, you learn more things and can rebound quicker from challenges and obstacles.
Don’t be afraid to be afraid to use your anger, it is there to help you! Just be careful with how you channel respond to it. Anger, like all powerful emotions, should be used carefully and responsibly.
By channeling your anger in a constructive manner, you can grow into a stronger, more resilient version of yourself, capable of thriving even in the face of adversity. So don’t let anger get the best of you; take charge of your emotions, and use them to your benefit!
If you need help learning how to use your anger appropriately, consider working with me.
Dig deeper: Learn how to use your anger appropriately. Click to listen to this episode or press the play button below.