Is Anger Destructive, Constructive, or Instructive? Debunking Common Myths About Anger:

How to deal with “Anger Problems”: Learn How Anger Can Actually Help You! 

Some people feel that there are positive and negative emotions. I think that emotions—including anger are neutral but the behaviors we act out as an expression of them can be detrimental or positive/constructive or destructive. For instance, anger can be a powerful force for action to protect yourself, or make a needed change, (or it can grow to rage and murder). Anger can be used instructively as insight into your needs, boundaries, and the necessity of making changes.

 

“Whether anger is destructive, constructive or instructive is all about what you do with your behavior– not the emotion!” Phoenix Alexander

 

Myth #1 Anger is Always Negative and Destructive!

Many people have the very strong opinion that anger is ALWAYS destructive and that it is an outright sin! They want you to feel guilty and ashamed if you feel angry. (Especially with them.) This is often the most convenient opinion for the people who are the most willing to misuse their personal power and don’t want to take personal responsibility for their actions and behavior.

Often victims of abuse have been manipulated and controlled by their perpetrators by being told that their anger at the perpetrator’s abuse is wrong, unhealthy and shameful. This takes the focus off the person misusing their power and onto the “wrong” behavior of the victim experiencing justified anger.

Anger can be negative and destructive to your health; if you don’t learn problem solving tools to effectively address and siphon off your anger. Stuffing it, ignoring it, or denying anger only makes it grow and can be extremely detrimental to your physical and emotional health.

I Believe: Instead of anger always being destructive; anger can be constructive, and instructive, (maybe the most vital step in healing, and recovering your health and self-worth!)

The most important factor is not IF you feel angry, but what you do with the anger. If you allow yourself to escalate the anger into a maniacal rage and hurt or kill someone then clearly the anger is destructive.

What if we consider how anger can be constructive and instructive?

My Experience Releasing Anger:

I was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness directly related to being constantly put in extreme situations that evoked my fight or flight response. Probably the most crucial factor in healing my body and emotions, was that I allowed myself the space and time to get angry about the events of my life that I felt the most traumatized by. I had never done this before because I was truly afraid that if I tapped into the anger I felt from the trauma I had experienced, it would consume me and I would never recover. I always felt before this time that anger was destructive no matter what its cause or justification, and that I could not afford to let myself get out of the rigid control I maintained over my anger. I didn’t want to act like the people who had used their rage against me. Because of environmental conditioning, I had learned to stuff my feelings,– especially anger, just to survive!

My Lesson: What I learned was that anger is an emotion that is often elicited by the fight or flight response and can be a strong stimulus to help us take needed action. I finally learned that siphoning off the anger was a much more healthy and productive response. I had to learn some really effective anger problem solving skills.

I’m going to share some excellent tools for using your anger constructively!

Myth #2 Anger and Confrontation Destroys Relationships!

Businesses, Churches and families are destroyed by the destructive use of anger from people who never learned effective problem solving skills in how to deal constructively with their anger. Sometimes it’s because they know how but won’t take personal responsibility to consider and promote the interests of the other party.

I Believe: That more anger is generated when there is no opportunity to discuss differences, frustrations, and get real about the problems that come up in every relationship! If we don’t have the ability to honestly share our our feelings and our most authentic self, then the relationship is doomed!

This is as true in a work or business relationship where we have to effectively get along with our coworkers as it is in our personal relationships with our partners, spouses, children and friends.

How can Anger be used constructively in a relationship?

I think it boils down to intent and perspective.

If you deal with the problems and differences between people with the intent to learn, instead of the intent to always be right and defend your point of view, (protecting yourself) you can minimize the anger that is generated in both parties to the problem. If you are actually listening with the intent to learn while considering what their motivations and feelings are, you may be influenced in ways that soften your attitude and perspective instead of escalating your anger. If you must protect yourself and always be right, the other person’s conflicting viewpoint will feel like a threat and anger is intensified.

Consider these perspectives shifting affirmations when you feel your anger start to rise?

I like to start my affirmations by saying “The Truth Is” (because it will eventually become your truth!)

The Truth is:

  • Confrontation means I have an opportunity to bring up an issue for healthy resolution.

  • Confrontation is the necessary first step in setting a boundary, and asking for positive change

  • The purpose of anger is to move me to take necessary action to meet my needs and change my circumstances and then move me into resolution through forgiveness and empathy.

  • By taking appropriate action when I feel angry, I’m increasing my mind and body wellness and personal empowerment.

  • I recognize that other’s needs and feelings are as important to them as mine are to me.

  • My anger is often generated by the perspective I have of events and the behaviors of others, so I take the time to evaluate if changing the value I place on the event would better serve me.

Myth #3 No Good Ever Comes from Anger!

Some people will cite example after example of how anger causes crimes, trauma, and destruction. They cannot see that there is any upside to anger.

I Believe: Anyone who has been abused or significantly wounded; (emotionally or physically) will experience anger! It may become a core part of their personality. Anger is something that can be used constructively or destructively.

In the past for me, sometimes the only thing strong enough to compel me to take action was that angry feeling of “Oh no you didn’t!” When I feel indignant like that, I can take charge of myself and use the anger to make a constructive change.

The presence of the anger is my cue, (how anger is instructive) into my own thoughts and feelings. Anger creates the opportunity for me to gain understanding of my needs and feelings and create positive change in my life.

“Anger is a gift of insight into my needs, beliefs, and thoughts”—Phoenix Alexander

When I feel angry in order to get to the instructive aspect of anger I ask myself these questions:

  • Who else made me feel this way? I may be triggered by old history with someone that has some resemblance to the current situation and I’m reacting inappropriately.

  • Is there any other possible interpretation of the other person’s actions than the one I’m taking now?

  • I might be totally misinterpreting what the person said, or their intent—especially if I’m feeling angry.

Application: If you rage often, the expression of anger may not be the healthiest way to deal with your life. You may need to practice abstaining from the expression of anger. For instance, you could say to yourself when you are feeling rage start to rise, “I am calm and under control. I can handle this without hurting anyone with my fists or my words.” You get the picture.

“When you change your thoughts you can change your behavior and feelings, and you can master self-control. This is the most critical element in problem solving to overcome adversity.”

–Phoenix Alexander

We have the power to change our emotions if we change our thoughts. We can actually substitute an emotion we don’t want to feel anymore with another more suitable one.

 Affirmations: In dealing with some really difficult relationship issues, I wrote several pages of anger affirmations to help me to cope with and re-frame this powerful emotion into one that is more empowering and less destructive. I’ll share some with you.

“The Truth Is”

  • I am always in control of my thoughts and emotions.

  • When I feel angry it means: An important need has been blocked, or my personal boundaries have been violated, or I’m trying to control someone or something that’s not in my control.

  • Anger is often the feeling that initially gives me the courage and strength to set boundaries and make positive changes.

  • Even when angry, I can use my words in ways that will most likely bring about successful resolution.

I have learned my unusual problem solving tools for changing my mood including Aromatherapy:

These are a few Essential Oils for Anger. I have been a certified Aromatherapist for over 20 years. This subject would take weeks to cover, so if you want more information on why and how Aromatherapy works, go to my website and find the Aromatherapy Pamphlet I wrote under the Products page.

Aromatherapy For Anger: (Getting rid of it).

  • Chamomile: Calming, anti-depressant. Treats nervous tension, anger, and insomnia.  Great oil for children—use for tantrums

  • Lavender: “Universal oil”. Balances emotions, eases nervous exhaustion, and depression. Calming, reduces anger. Good for trauma and shock.

  • Rosemary: Antidepressant, uplifting, refreshing, strengthening. Stimulates brain and memory. Good for low energy, mental strain. Reduces anger.

Phoenix Alexander

If you like this article you will want to watch for more of my articles and videos dealing with this powerful emotion—Anger.

You will find many more ideas on dealing with Anger in my “Transform Yourself” Seminar, and in my book, “Turning Trials Into Triumphs, The Way of the Phoenix”. You can also hire me to do consulting with your office or group or to give a keynote speech on problem solving; including how to deal constructively with anger.

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