Anger is a natural human emotion and one that can be, in some circumstances, an understandable and even healthy way of reacting. However, it can also be potentially dangerous to ourselves and others.
Therefore there are many unwritten social rules inhibiting anger to control these risks. We typically swallow these rules whole as children and then have beliefs such as "it is unreasonable to be angry", "people who are angry are out of control" or "it's bad to be angry".
The fear and shame about anger can mask it or lead us to modify what we do with it, with potentially unhealthy consequences. When we are not aware of being angry, or are aware but don't express it, anger can then become modified.
- Anger we are unable to effectively express can become persisting bitterness
- Anger that is denied can be displaced onto other people or organisations
- Anger that is denied can also be displaced within ourselves, becoming guilt and potentially depression
- Unexpressed anger that is suppressed within us can lead to tiredness, depression and physical illness
- Anger occasionally leads us to regress, as if we were a rebellious child again and can lead to us living a restricted life of acting out our anger through our behaviour
Signs that can indicate we might be unaware of our anger include regularly feeling irritable, critical, bored, dissatisfied or disturbed.