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Is My Anger Healthy?

There is a difference between healthy, constructive anger and anger that is destructive and unhealthy. Below you will see the characteristics of both…see where you might fit in.

Anger can be a very difficult emotion to change. Unlike other negative feelings, anger is often a choice that YOU make. I remind many of my clients to pause and mentally try to list the advantages and disadvantages of feeling angry. Ask yourself “Do I REALLY want to feel this way right now?” If the answer is “no” – you can ask yourself another question, which is “What am I going to do with these angry feelings I am having right now?” You could express your angry feelings in an assertive or constructive way with respect.

Characteristics of Healthy, Constructive Anger

  • You express your feelings in a tactful way.
  • You attempt to see the world through the other person’s eyes, even if you disagree.
  • You convey a spirit of respect for the other person, even though you might feel very hurt or upset by him or her.
  • You do something productive to try to solve the problem.
  • You try to learn from the situation so you can better tackle it in the future.
  • You eventually try to release the angry feelings and return to a calmer state.
  • You take a close look at your own behavior to see how you may have contributed to the problem.
  • You believe that you and the other person both have valid ideas and feelings that deserve to be understood.
  • You look for a solution where you both can win and nobody has to lose.

Characteristics of Unhealthy, Destructive Anger

  • You deny your feelings and act in a passive agressive manner or lash out and attack the other person (active agression).
  • You argue in a defensive way and insist there is zero validity in what the other person has to say.
  • You believe that the other person is terrible and deserving of punishment. You appear condescending or disrespectful in your tone and body language.
  • You give up and see yourself as a wronged and helpless victim.
  • You don’t try to learn anything new. You feel that your view of the situation is 100% in the right.
  • Your anger becomes addictive and you can’t seem to shake it or let go.
  • You blame the other person.
  • You insist that you are right and the other person is simply wrong. You feel convinced of your truth.
  • You avoid, reject or abandon the other person. You write him or her off.
  • You feel like you’re in a battle or a competition to ‘win’ the argument. If one person wins, you feel that the other person will clearly be the loser.

Try to think of various situations in your past when you have been angry. What have been the advantages and disadvantages of acting the way you did in the given situation? When you start to feel anger coming on…ask yourself which type of anger you would like to engage in (healthy or unhealthy)?


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