Psychologist Advises That Anger Need Not Be A Sign Of Hostility

Anger is a useful tool if it is in the right amount and is directed in a positive way.  Anger is not bad in itself, it is a necessary feeling that facilitates our survival as a species and as individuals.  Anger is often confused with chronic anger, or hostility.

Afraid to ask the boss for a raise.  Afraid to tell your partner that they are not satisfying your needs:  sensual needs for affection, a new car, or just one that works well.  Anger in just the right amount can provide the lubricant that helps you to handle your fear of asking; a small amount of anger quiets some fears of rejection or denial.  Anger can help you to diminish your anxiety enough to be able to take a self-protective action that you might otherwise not feel confident enough to do.

Anger is not a long-term substitute for self-confidence, but in the short run, it can help us to get our needs communicated.  Needs do not have to be communicated in an angry way in order to have them be satisfied, but our fears may have prevented us from ever making it clear that we need something different from what we are getting.

The energy to power our self-expression may be diminished by a false belief that people should never feel anger, or that anger is somehow evil or frightening to possess or exhibit.  Anger may provide some of the energy that we need to cheer ourselves up.

Anger that is conflicted with hopelessness may become depression or hostility, a chronic form of anger that is toxic to the bearer as well as to the recipient.  Hostility prevents the proper evaluation of a situation and is caused by distorted perceptions in a vicious loop.

An adult whose childhood was one in which their parents or other significant adults used the infliction of pain as their basic teaching tool will possibly experience the parents narcissistic use of inflicted pain as hostility.  Children may then learn to inflict pain on others, as well as themselves.

Some victims of teaching-by-pain learn to be secretly hostile and may cover the display of hostility in a passive-aggressive way of life that makes them impede others and themselves while unconsciously trying to seem as if they are not doing such.

Unlearning the negative ways in which we have absorbed our life's lessons can free us from needing to hurt others and ourselves and help us to find a more comfortable way of being ourselves.

Unlearning our negative ways of being does not mean just reading books, articles like this, or just talking to our loved ones, if we have let ourselves have any.  Unlearning has to be done at the same time as learning a new way that must be put into the place in our mind where self-depreciation, depression, phobias, hostile actions, and self-defeating processes once ruled our feeling, thought, and actions.  We may need to meet regularly with an insightful psychotherapist who is able to assist us in our quest to live the life that we want, if those wants can be satisfied.  Verbally bouncing ideas and feelings off others in a therapist led group and/or in individual sessions may illuminate connections between thoughts and feelings that we could not let ourself make.

Many of us can have insights because we are smart, whether we think so or not, but uncomfortable connections are not likely to be made if we are alone with ourself.  Grappling with anxiety while making connections is painful, and although the grappling may ultimately allow us to have a new useful and positive attitude, we tend to turn away from the mentally uncomfortable.  A trained therapist may be able to help us to stay with an uncomfortable mental connection just enough to get beyond the bad feelings or images and to begin to reformulate our philosophy of life into a more productive contentment with ourself.

by Dr. Lehrer