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Healthy Anger

Updated: May 14, 2023

Psychotherapists often talk about modelling ‘healthy anger’. But that's easier said than done. Very few of us will have grown up in a household where 'healthy anger' was modelled for us – so how are we supposed to know what it looks like.







Anger is a misunderstood emotion with a bad reputation, but it’s an essential tool in maintaining relationships and creating healthy boundaries.


Anger is the force that rises up to say ‘no – that’s not okay’ when we feel under attack. It protects us, stopping others from hurting us and is an important tool in healthy relationships, allowing us to be close to others without feeling overwhelmed. We can think of Anger as our emotionally intelligent early warning system, alerting us to possible threats to our physical, emotional, intellectual or spiritual well-being.


When it protects us from harm, when it is constructive and when it is proportionate to what is happening Anger is Clear-sighted and a 'healthy' force. In an ideal world Anger would always be Clear-sighted.


But all too often Anger is triggered by imagined threats, vulnerabilities that we carry around with us. It is disproportionate to the situation we are in and it becomes a destructive force in our relationships with others. This Distorted Anger can be the cause of much pain.


A lot of us bottle-up Anger, stewing in it, rather than expressing those angry thoughts and feelings. But just because we’re not raging outwardly does not mean that our Distorted Anger is not also destructive – it’s just that this destructive force is focused inwards.


Distorted Anger exists for a reason. It is there to protect us from our own painful feelings. When we’re angry we’re distracted – we don’t have to think about these feelings. But instead of protecting us from pain, Distorted Anger brings yet more with it. Only by exploring our painful feelings can we stop this cycle.


The key to understanding whether our Anger is healthy, or not, lies in understanding the difference between Clear-Sighted and Distorted Anger.


Ask yourself these questions:


Is my Anger protecting me from physical or mental harm in the here and now?
Is it constructive?
Is it proportionate?

We need to be prepared to answer these questions honestly. Only by being honest with ourselves can we start to work with our Anger and ensure it's a positive force. If our answers to any of the above questions are 'no' – we need to have the introspection to work out what is being triggered and why we are really so angry.


Maybe it's time that you tried to unpack your Anger...



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