© 2024 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Anger can actually be useful

Yogendra Singh

Anger is not bad. It's useful.

Does that surprise you? If so, you’re not alone. But it’s true. What many of us think of as anger is actually a manifestation of how people manage their anger. And without question, the mismanagement of anger is destructive and overwhelming.

Anger is probably the least understood human emotion, but one of the few things we know about it is that it is a secondary emotion. In other words, it is the emotional reaction that we have to other emotions. And as frowned upon as anger is, it is sometimes taught in dysfunctional settings as the best way to deal with feelings that we aren’t comfortable expressing in other ways.

One way that anger is often used in society today is to mask hurt or helplessness. Both of these emotions cause feelings of vulnerability. Anger creates the appearance of a shield which we subconsciously use to hide that vulnerability and keep things away that might hurt us more. But chronic anger or even the variable application of anger also keeps away the good things in our lives.

So how is anger useful? Well, if we are hiking and see a bear ahead of us on the trail, then raising your voice, gesticulating wildly, and making loud noises might keep you alive. However, apply this same behavior to a spouse, co-worker, child, or stranger on the street or in a store, and the utility quickly diminishes. Like all emotions, anger’s usefulness is limited to appropriate settings and environments.

If you’re having trouble managing your anger or know someone who is, know the mental health organizations in your area and offer your help.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.