Anger in its’ proper form is a healthy emotion despite all of the bad press it has been getting. Healthy anger helps to mobilize our internal resources in order to respond to external threats and injustices. The key term in that statement is “healthy.” Many however struggle to determine what constitutes healthy anger and how to properly express it or manage it.
In order to better understand anger, we need to first know where anger comes from. From the perspective of Cognitive Therapy, anger occurs when we perceive a violation to our Personal Domain. Our Personal Domain consists of our values, our rules about the world, our needs, our wants and our expectations of others. Our physical being is also an element of our Personal Domain. An example of how anger is triggered from this perspective might be the anger most of us feel when a child or some innocent person is terribly harmed. For many of us, when we see a news story depicting someone being unjustifiably harmed-we become angry. We were not personally harmed, yet we still feel angry. The reason is because our value or our rule about the world that innocent people should not be harmed was violated. In order to determine if we are experiencing healthy anger, we need to evaluate our anger using the following criteria:
Are you making something out of nothing?
1. What did we “perceive” to have happened? We need to determine what did we see or “perceive” to have happened. We need to determine if what we “think” occurred actually did occur as we saw it by reviewing facts or using sound logic. If our perception is supported by facts or sound logic-then we are probably experiencing healthy anger.
2. What aspect of our Personal Domain was violated. We need to determine what value, rule, need, want or expectation was not met. Once we are able to identify this, we need to evaluate if this element of our Personal Domain is reasonable. Just because we feel things “should” be a certain way, does not mean is has to be that way. Objectively, if we are able to determine that our value, rule… is valid-then we are experiencing healthy anger.
Are you making a mountain out of a molehill?
1. Does the severity of our anger equal the situation that occurred? Now that we have determined that our anger is justified, we now need to make sure the level of anger we are feeling is equal to the situation. We need to make sure that our anger does not supersede what occurred. If our anger is proportional to the situation-then we are experiencing healthy anger.
Healthy anger consists of ensuring that you are “not making something out of nothing” and “not making a mountain out of a molehill.” Now, if you are reasonably able to determine that you are experiencing healthy anger, there is still one very important final step. You still need to express your anger in a healthy and productive manner that helps to resolve whatever issues triggered your anger in the first place. Healthy anger also warrants a healthy expression.
If you are interested in learning more about healthy anger and how to manage anger in a healthy manner, please feel free to contact our clinic and schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians.