When a Little Anger Is Good

An arguing couple staring each other down across a table

We all hear a lot about letting go of anger, curbing our temper, and learning anger management techniques. On the spiritual path, sages and gurus remind us that everyone and everything is to be forgiven and that peace and tranquility is what we all need to strive for. Anger is deemed counterproductive, useless or even destructive to our spiritual well-being and happiness. It is considered a “negative emotion” that we should reject in others and deny in ourselves. With such advice, it is no wonder that most of us shrink with guilt after our feathers get ruffled and we speak out in anger at someone we love.

But Is Anger Really All That Bad?

The notion that anger is bad needs a bit of reframing especially in spiritual circles. In truth, a little anger is good and has a function that benefits human consciousness. Used positively, anger makes us healthy, wealthy and wise and is one key to happiness.

  • Anger Signals Us That All Is Not Right in Paradise
    When we feel angry about a situation we are facing or at a person who is challenging us in some way, our anger is a signal and warning that something is out of balance. As a warning, anger saves us the grief of sitting still and doing nothing about a situation or when circumstances require a positive change. It will signal us to mobilize, get up off the chair and do something. Maybe the kids are fighting in the next room and you need to get mad enough to break it up. Or your neighbor is neglecting her children, letting them run in the street and you need get over there to see what is going on. Your anger can signal your moral compass to make sure you are doing what is right.

  • Anger Is a Teacher
    By witnessing and understanding anger in others we can see how destructive it can be, but we can also see its merits in many situations. We learn that anger turned to passion helps us achieve our dreams and even how it can champion the lives of others. Anger teaches us to develop a stronger personality so that we succeed in life and develop spiritual muscles to truly contribute something meaningful to the world.

  • Anger Points Out Old Sore Spots Needing Healing
    Old wounds can be easily triggered and for many the response is anger. Something happens that resembles an ugly experience from the past and as fast as a snap of a finger your anger erupts like red lava. Maybe your friend innocently teases you the same way your brother did when you were seven. Or your partner points out your spelling errors the same way your mother did when helping you with your homework. In these cases, your anger is pointing you towards a wound of resentment you have held onto too long. Becoming cognizant that your anger is a shadow from the past produces an “ah-ha moment” of insight. With cognition you can excavate the memories from your past, let yourself feel what you’ve hidden for so long, and let it go through forgiveness.

  • Anger Protects You
    If you are under a verbal attack a healthy response is anger. Rather than cowering in fear or retracting and feeling even more vulnerable, a little anger can push to yell out a resounding “Stop”. Anger is an enforcer of good boundaries so that you don’t become a doormat or pushover in instances when others try to dominate or threaten your safety and well-being. Anger strengthens your energy field and helps you extend out your field of light as protection from negative influences.

  • Anger Fights Against Apathy
    When we get riled up when confronted with circumstances that just seem unfair, our anger moves us deeply and points out what matters most to us. Whether it is world hunger, saving the whales or the need for a stop sign at a busy intersection in a neighborhood, a cause needs angry individuals to fuel it. A defeatist, “I don’t care attitude” won’t change the world. Neither is believing everything is unfolding as it should and sitting back in apathy waiting for paradise. The greatest accomplishments of this world were achieved because someone got angry enough to insist on a change. For instance, because of a couple of angry women, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, women eventually won the right to vote and earned equality under the law.

  • Anger Is a Motivator of Personal Change
    If you stop to think about it, anger has likely been the great motivator of change in your life. Maybe you finally ended a toxic relationship after years of putting up with someone who discouraged you or who even abused you. You probably were angry with yourself for putting up with their remarks for so long, clinging to them hoping they would change. When you finally were fed up enough to let your anger win, it gave you the potent power of courage to end it. Only when we get mad enough to change the direction of our lives can we earn self-respect.

  • A Little Anger Is Healthy
    A 2005 study by professor of psychology, Jennifer Lerner, at Carnegie Mellon University, showed that people who responded to stress producing situations with short-term anger possessed a sense of control and optimism that was lacking with those who responded with fear. The more fear individuals in the study displayed in response to the stressors, the higher their biological responses to stress. “By contrast, the more anger and indignation individuals displayed in response to the same stressors, the lower their responses,” said Lerner. Just about everyone knows a little temper tantrum can be invigorating and a relief. But anger can be deadly when it is simmers over time and no steam is allowed to escape.

The subconscious demonstrates that it is healthier to express anger than to keep it bottled up inside. Many dreamers report dreams in which they were boldly confronting someone with anger, telling them off when in real life they found it impossible to be as confrontational. The function of such a dream is to creatively resolve internal conflict in the best way possible—through the expression of anger.

Other Spirituality Articles by Ariadne Green

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