Anger is a natural emotion that everybody experiences at varying degrees and intervals. Though we might have different ways of expressing—or repressing—our anger, the reasons why we become angry are universal.
In the book Anger Therapy, authors Lisa O. Engelhardt and Karen Katafiasz explain that anger is a sign that our needs are not being met, our rights have been violated, we are compromising ourselves, or some sort of injustice has occurred. Think about the last time you became angry. Did any of these four conditions apply to your situation?
For example, if you got angry at your boyfriend for not calling you back, your need for attention from him was not being met. If you became angry when your son’s teacher punished him for defending himself against a bully, then it was an injustice that triggered your anger. If you got angry at your boss for cutting you off while you were trying to explain something to her, she violated your right to express your thoughts or feelings. If you are angry about your job in general, it’s possible that you are settling for less than you feel you deserve, thus compromising yourself.
What to Do About It
Whenever you feel anger rising within you, ask yourself what need isn’t being met or what right is being violated. As soon as you identify the reason for your anger, you can address it quickly and appropriately. The purpose of anger is to propel you to right a wrong. It can also help you to learn more about yourself. For example, if you find that a certain need is consistently not being met, you might want to explore where that need originated. Is it a healthy or unhealthy need? Is it a need that maybe you can fulfill yourself rather than expecting other people or situations to fulfill it?
Anger is kind of like an unattractive gift that you didn’t ask for. But it is a gift nonetheless, one worth unwrapping and using to improve your relationships and your life.