Seeing Red; perspectives on Anger

Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.’ Aristotle

Anger, what is it good for – this issue is often coming up in my work with individuals and groups.

Often I explain using some of my experience working with young men out in the forest. Have you ever tried to make fire by friction? Give it a go. Yes you can rub a stick with your hands, but you’ve got more chance with a bow drill, the same principle but you move a bow backwards and forwards which spins the spindle and makes friction on the wood below. Sounds easy.IMG_0402

I’ve never mastered the skill, and one thing I know is that it sure pissed me off trying.

The energy behind anger, if channelled right, not only keeps us warm, it keeps us alive. Fire is connected to our evolutionary history; cooking meat freeing up our energy from digesting to develop our pre-frontal cortex (thinking brain) and rest is history.

So put in the right place it’s great & essential, but as Aristotle says it’s not easy, and the untamed emotion of anger can lead to behaviours of hostility and violence, or impotence and depression.

Well what helps?

Express the energy don’t lock it away, anger is ok, what you do with it is the issue.

Learn to manage conflict.

Chill out; lowering emotional arousal, but not as an end in itself if the emotion needs to be expressed, other wise it comes back.

And lets not forget an important point: Frustration, pissed off, irked, annoyed, wound up, irritated, fed up, upset, tired, board = angry.

Naming the emotion is an important step to expressing it.

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