“Releasing pent up rage is good” and other myths about anger

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Are you a rage monster? Or are you one of those martyrs who silently hides their anger inside?

How you handle this complex emotion has physical, psychological and social consequences. Understanding anger is one of the keys to living a healthy and normal life. Let’s start by exploring some of these myths relating to anger. You might still be holding on to some of the following:

Anger is a negative emotion

Anger is a natural reaction to certain events or situations that run counter to our expectations or block our goals. It is actually positive if the situation calls for it and when it is expressed appropriately. For example, getting angry when you see an injustice done to someone can help right a wrong. Or if someone attacks you for no reason, getting angry will get your adrenaline going and fuel you to action. It is the natural trigger that pushes your “fight or flight response,” a human mechanism linked to survival.

However, anger can be negative, especially if it is not justified or if it is excessive. Not only will it have negative effects on your mental and physical health (it can lead to anxiety, headaches, high blood pressure, etc.), expressing it aggressively can also lead to dire consequences like losing your job, damaging a relationship or losing respect.

“It’s better if I let it all out”

It is true that keeping your anger bottled up can have negative mental and physical effects. Doctors say that keeping your anger can lead to depression and anxiety. However, venting your anger without understanding why you are angry can do more harm. It is not an “all or nothing phenomenon.” If the reason why you are angry is still there, you will continue to be angry no matter how much you vent.

Instead of letting it all out, express it in healthy ways. Experts suggest:

  1. Walking away from the situation temporarily. Let yourself cool down. This will help you think clearer.
  2. Thinking about the situation objectively. This means taking out your unfounded conclusions or prejudices out of the equation. It will also help if you write your thoughts down.
  3. Pinpointing the exact reasons why you feel angry.
  4. Coming up with possible solutions to solve it.
  5. Engaging in a sport or exercise. Release some of your mood-enhancing hormones. You can also choose a relaxing activity like yoga or meditation.

Try these 4 simple steps to manage your anger from WellCast.

Anger gives you respect

Fear is different from respect. When people walk on eggshells around you because you are prone to angry outbursts, that’s more of fear. They avoid you because they brand you as trouble. On the other hand, knowing how to control your anger is a sign of maturity and good emotional intelligence. These are the building blocks to forming a respectable personality.

Men are angrier than women

Men and women feel the same amount of anger. The difference lies in the manner of expression. Men seem to be angrier (and more aggressive) because they are more likely than women to use physical violence. Women are more likely to resort to indirect expressions of anger, such as giving the silent treatment, crying, or gossiping. The reason for this is mainly biology as well as societal views – men are seen to be more masculine when they get angry, while angry women are labelled unladylike when they show outward signs of anger, so they avoid showing it.

Need more tips for managing anger? Read Cool it: Tips and tricks to manage anger better.

Sources: Anger Management: Tips and techniques for getting anger under control, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. and Melinda Smith, M.A., Helpguide.org; 7 myths about anger (and why they’re wrong), Amy Morin, Psychology Today; and Are men angrier than women? Steven Laurent, Psychology Today. Retrieved May 31, 2018.

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Community Resources

Do you need anger management classes? There are many free workshops around Manitoba. Contact your area’s Neighbourhood Immigrant Settlement Worker or check with Aurora Family Therapy Centre.

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