Anger isn’t a bad thing. Often, we demonize it when really, anger is a healthy, normal emotion. It helps to move energy in the body. It only becomes a problem if you’re living in a constant state of anger and/or not letting yourself express anger in a healthy way.
I was such an angry kid, and didn’t know how to express my it. I would throw toys, scream, cry, and in my room alone I’d pull my hair or hit my bed. I didn’t understand that I was actually sad or scared of being vulnerable, I just knew I felt an intense sensation bubbling up in my body and had to physically release it. At age 12 my body couldn’t handle all the anger and inflammation in my body any more – that’s when I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. Then, as I grew older I began my healing journey and tried to push down all my anger – because ‘it’s not spiritual to get angry’ I thought. I thought anger was a bad emotion that should never be felt. It wasn’t until only a few years ago that I finally began to understand what a healthy relationship with anger is.
What happens IN your body?
Anger results from the relationship between the limbic system (the center of emotions in the brain), the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight/freeze responses), and the consciousness (how people think about or perceive an event). “…When the emotional brain receives information from the part of the brain that perceives an impending threat, it sends signals to the body using biochemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals communicate by telling the body to respond to the threat.”(1). When the Central Nervous System gets the message of ‘DANGER’ it triggers a release of hormones into the bloodstream.
When you think about anger as responding to a threat, it makes it more understandable that anger is simply an armour emotion. Usually the underlying emotion of anger is sadness, vulnerability, or fear. Our body is simply using anger to protect us. This is what causes people to fight to protect their beliefs and lives.
What happens TO your body?
- Increased chance of Stroke and Heart Attack.
- “There is a higher risk of cardiovascular events shortly after outbursts of anger.”(3)
- Dr. Chris Aiken, MD speaks about how both repressed anger and excessive anger can double your chances of coronary disease. “Constructive anger — the kind where you speak up directly to the person you are angry with and deal with the frustration in a problem-solving manner — is not associated with heart disease,” says Aiken.
- Decreased Immune System and Increased Inflammation
- A study showed that there was a six-hour dip in levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A, the first line of defence against infection.
- Decreased Life Span.
- A University of Michigan study done over a 17-year period found that couples who hold in their anger have a shorter life span than those who readily say when they’re mad.
To move into a healthy relationship with anger,
- You first need to be able to identify what you get triggered by.
- Realize your anger in no one else’s fault.
- Then CHOOSE to take a breath, and check in with yourself. Ask yourself:
- “Why am I angry?”
- “What emotion am I actually feeling/How do I feel unsafe?”
- “Do I want to be angry?”
Maybe that last questions seems weird to ask yourself. You might be saying “If I could choose not to be angry I obviously wouldn’t be angry then…” Well guess what, you can choose! And sometimes you might choose not to be angry and sometimes you might choose to be angry – and that’s okay too.
**keep in mind, just because you have the right to be angry, doesn’t mean you have the right to be cruel**
When you start to realize and feel comfortable with the idea that you aren’t a victim to your anger and you don’t have to choose anger, a whole new world is available to you. Anger is an amazing defence mechanism, it has protected you – give it some gratitude. And how can you truly heal if you don’t tear down that defence mechanism and deal with your actual emotions?
Now its up to you, what will you choose?