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How to make a friend of your anger

Updated: Sep 30, 2019

There is no quick fix to anger issues, but working through them can be a journey that sheds light on who we are and how we perceive the world

It’s easy to feel hijacked by our anger. After all, anger was one of the primary evolutionary feelings: it was designed for survival. It knows only on and off. But this means that once the trigger is pressed, often by a trivial event, we end up in noise and miss out on the detail and complexity of our humanity. Our capacity for empathy is reduced and we want only to survive, hide, hurt, blame or punish.

Many people come to me expecting a quick fix or a solution to their anger. There is none. But working with anger can be a journey of exploration that offers information about how we perceive the world and shines a light on who we really are.

Anger can drive terrible deeds and behaviours. But it can also be a force for good. It plays out in both healthy and dangerous ways. It drives athletes, philanthropists and protesters, as well as killers and abusers. We usually focus on the “bad” behaviours that come with anger, such as losing your temper, bullying or being heavily critical or sarcastic. But anger itself is just a feeling, not a behaviour. My work, many people are surprised to learn, is not about getting rid of anger but changing our relationship with it.

Ultimately, anger is part of our humanity. Denying it will not make it go away; it creates shame, fear and even more anger. We can change our relationship with anger simply by treating it as a source of valuable information about ourselves and how we see the world.

Us angry people like to blame others for our anger, but taking responsibility for it is an important “growing up” process. These tips will help you understand how you create much of your anger and this will make a difference. But changing your relationship with anger is a deep and profound process that usually requires the support of a skilled therapist.