Many people who struggle with unhealthy anger don’t want to manage it: “Problem, what problem?!” Anger does not like to admit it’s a problem, it usually masquerades as a solution: taking charge, getting things done, protecting, initiating, and reacting to the “real” problems. If we want to deal with anger in our lives, we need to first understand the purpose it serves and when it isn’t working. Here are some common examples:
Anger is motivation. It prepares us for action, pushes us to complete tasks efficiently, and motivates us to overcome barriers standing in our way. Warning Signs: it becomes a detriment when directed toward improper objects or when it becomes a distraction.
Anger is protection. It can protect us from being taken advantage of, acts of injustice, personal attacks, and helplessness. Warning Signs: it easily misinterprets threats, distorts reality, and becomes the aggressor rather than protector.
Anger is grief. Anger is not always an aggressive process, it can stem from lack of acceptance, confusion, desperation, and frustration with reality. Warning Signs: when left unresolved it can become defiance and resentment toward people, situations, and reality, especially when grieving.
Anger is self-esteem. Anger can be a means to feeling respected by others. It uses fear and control to feel a sense of superiority. Warning Signs: anger is an unsustainable and inappropriate way to earn the respect of others, it is highly manipulative, abusive, and self-deceiving.
Anger is leadership (aka loudership). Whether it’s at work, at home with family, or with friends, anger is a common form of leadership for people who haven’t learned a better leadership style. It is loud, domineering, gives off an air of confidence, and attracts those who seek absolute authority. Warning Signs: using anger as a leadership style is often the quickest means to respect, but the least sustainable. People naturally become tired of overreactions, tantrums, loudness, and inconsistency. Once it’s effects are worn, you are worse off than before.