Why anger is not always a bad thing

When you struggle to be justifiably angry, write a letter – and don’t send it.

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As I sat in my therapist’s front room a couple of years ago, and a month or so after I’d begun working with her, I distinctly recall my complicated reaction when she asked what made me angry.

“Nothing really,” I replied. “I don’t think I ever get angry.”

For a moment or two, I felt proud. Proud that I obviously had my emotions so buttoned down that they never boiled over. Proud that I’d got everything under control.

Except of course that I hadn’t.

The raised eyebrows of my therapist said it all really.

“Really? You honestly never get angry?”

And of course in that split second I realised that of course there had been plenty of times in my life when I’d had every right to be angry, but that more often than not I’d suppressed the emotion. Not allowed it out. Pretended it didn’t exist. And although this wasn’t something I should have beaten myself up about, neither was it a reason to be proud.

Over the years I’ve had to falteringly find ways to express anger when it’s appropriate. I’m still not terribly good at doing so with others, but I can at least summon up a modest amount of wrath when conducting an internal conversation.

I’ve found one really useful way of unleashing inner anger about someone is to write them a letter telling them exactly how I feel.

Then not sending it.

I hope you have no problems expressing difficult emotions but if you do, why not give the letter-writing approach a try? It’s worked for me, and others. Maybe it will for you too.

2 thoughts on “Why anger is not always a bad thing

  1. I have found that we have all our emotions for very good reason, even anger has it place.
    I have found that by getting angry that it has stopped me from spilling over to other emotions that would of been bad for my mental health state at the time. Anger can sometimes stop us from feeling the pain that we feel will kill us if felt, it’s the miss use of the emotion anger that creates the problem. But we all know right from wrong whatever state of mind we are in, and personal responsibility must always come first in any situation of whatever emotion.

  2. Interesting.
    I often say I don’t get angry, but I do a lot of avoiding situations where I’m not comfortable. I’m also mostly live alone now.
    I suppress anger, as children we weren’t allowed to be angry. When I was married we didn’t argue. I was usually angry at him when he wasn’t there and often because he wasn’t there! I used to take my anger out on the kitchen or by slamming doors, one flew off its hinges once! It feels so satisfying to slam a door.
    I am just learning about communication and ‘getting to the root of a problem’. It’s excruciating going through it, but very rewarding to get to the bottom and find that what caused a big volcano was just a misunderstanding that festered till it was enormous.

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