Anger is universal and essential
Anger is an emotion that many people find difficult to experience. It is an emotion often thought of as ‘bad’ or ‘negative’, something that we should strive to ‘get rid of’. Yet without anger we simply wouldn’t survive. It is absolutely essential for our continued well-being.
Think of a small baby who is screaming and yelling because they need to be fed or changed or because they’re uncomfortable. They don’t ask nicely (because they don’t know how to yet), so they scream with all the anger they can muster. And it generally gets results: they get fed/changed/soothed and they calm down.
Anger in adulthood
In adults however anger is expressed differently, and we can also see a difference between anger and rage. As adults we generally don’t express anger as screaming and yelling. Anger is generally used as a positive self-protective force that helps us to guard against being exploited or manipulated by others, or when we have been hurt or insulted for example. It is a natural response to injustice and it is generally used respectfully towards ourselves and others.
The problem of rage
Rage, on the other hand, is a destructive force that is used disrespectfully towards ourselves and others. Rage can be explosive or violent, or it can be expressed in a cold manner that might seem ‘perfectly reasonable’. Either way, it tends to be an unconscious response, while anger is something we are generally aware of.
Turned inward rage causes immense and complex problems that can lead to destructive behaviours. In some people the need to deny their anger/rage can lead to problems such as drink and drug addiction (to mask the feelings completely), or depression and anxiety (which serve to repress the anger, and turn it inward).
Others may find themselves so overwhelmed by their feelings that they explode with violent outbursts towards others (as seen in cases of domestic violence), or themselves (self-harm/suicide attempts/alcohol or substance abuse). Unresolved feelings can lead to physical problems and illnesses, damage relationships and friendships, cause problems at work, as well as leading to depression and anxiety.
Counselling for anger and rage
There is no need to feel shame in acknowledging feelings of anger and rage, and much to be gained by confronting your feelings. Within a safe and supportive environment, such as that provided by therapy, you can learn how to recognise your feelings of anger and rage, express them in helpful ways, and pay attention to the traumatic life events that may have provoked the feelings of anger and rage in the first place. In this way you can learn to effectively solve problems and deal with whatever life throws at you.
If you are concerned about your issues with anger or rage, and feel like they are negatively impacting on your life, then counselling can help. Introductory sessions are available.