How I Learned to Appreciate Anger – Part 1

Alright, so maybe not appreciate it but as I understand it better, I get the importance of it and I get the gift in it.  Yes, anger bestows a gift.

I just finished a wonderful article by Joanne Ellison Rodgers called “Go Forth in Anger”.  It’s found in the April 2014 edition of Psychology Today. In the article Rodgers talks about researchers discovering that anger is a form of social communication.  In other words, we need it to build strong connections with each other. Anger is important because without it we are unlikely to be clear on who we are in relation to others.

While fear, sadness, and anxiety prompt avoidance behaviours, anger fuels us to take on challenges.  Anger, like love, lust, anxiety, sadness and fear, is built in.  We are born hardwired for those emotions.  Nature provided them for survival and growth.

The Purpose of Anger

We are wired to get angry when others insult or exploit us.  Anger gets aroused when, in our estimation, the other person is getting too much and we are getting too little.  When our anger encourages us to speak up and set boundaries, it alerts the other person that there’s an expectation of an increase in valuing and caring for us.  Anger tells us that we feel someone isn’t valuing us enough in relation to how they are valuing themselves.  In effect, anger helps to re-establish the balance.

Let’s say you and I go out for dinner on several occasions and each time you leave me to take care of the bill. Such behaviour will arouse my anger because it’s an indication of lack of respect for my worth.  By standing up for reciprocal cost sharing, I am standing up for myself.  My anger encourages me to set a boundary with you which can then encourage a cooperative and respectful relationship.

Yes, anger is a potent force not to be ignored or denied but used to fuel our self-respect and to gain us reciprocity in our interactions with others.  There is a gift to be had there!


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