05 May Throwing a Wobbly – Is Anger Good For Our Health?
I was so angry yesterday. I watched ‘This Morning’ and the fantastic interview with Emer O’Toole discussing a topic very dear to my heart – To shave or not to shave, a women’s decision to grow her own body hair. After the feature I witnessed the most ridiculously negative onslaught at this gorgeous woman via social media. It was like the UK had turned into a bunch of pitchfork-welding villagers. I was waiting for someone to start chanting ‘burn her’ like some crazy Monty Python sketch.
Seriously I was livid… over a bit of body fluff.
Anger, as an emotion, is new to me. My raging fires had died out so long ago that I stopped experiencing anger altogether. Nothing and no one could hack me off, I was such a ‘nice’ person. And then I discovered that I was denying an incredibly important part of myself. I dared to step into the flames of my emotion and it has been the most empowering, liberating decision of my life.
Why do we get angry? It’s a very natural reaction to being offended, threatened, wronged or denied. It’s a human instinct, proof that we are still animals. Anger is immediate. It’s like a fire, it ignites, it rages and it burns out. I love watching a child having a full-on tantrum, so alive in the moment and with no regard of what others think of them. They just let rip. It usually lasts no more than ten minutes and then it’s gone.
Do you remember not getting your own way or being denied something as a child? Do you remember your reaction? My mother still talks about the royal tantrum I had, aged 3, when I wasn’t allowed a second go on the 20p ride in ASDAs. I was not allowed to have a go on that ride for weeks afterwards as a result. Needless to say I learnt a lesson and it was the first and last childhood tantrum I ever had.
Here lies the difficulty with anger. We are taught from a very young age that tantrums are not acceptable behaviour and are punishable. On the flip side tears and upset are often rewarded with cuddles and soothing. We are taught anger is rejected and tears are accepted. Have you ever been so cross that you have burst into tears? It’s common that the two emotions can get muddled up.
Different emotions create different chemicals reactions in the body. When we happy our body floods with the hormone serotonin which makes us feel good. Anger creates a stress response in the body – heart rate, blood pressure, and adrenaline levels increase. Because of this some health practitioners believe that anger should be overcome – all emotions are a choice and therefore can be selected.
I once heard a practitioner say he was above anger. It was the biggest load of tosh I’d ever heard. No one is above anger. Experiencing anger is a part of the human condition. It’s like saying I’m above eating (I will never say that).
Anger that isn’t allowed to express itself turns into resentment which often becomes dis-ease within the body. Conditions such as digestive problems, constipation, eczema, psoriasis, endometriosis and migraines are common symptoms of repressed anger.
So you’re really hacked off. What do you do? Start verbally or physically attacking people or destroying their property? Maybe not. However I do thoroughly recommend a good old fashioned childhood tantrum. An empty room at home – just you, a defenceless pillow and your raw, unadulterated anger. Wonderful. Trust me, as a recent divorcee, this is one of the most cathartic and cleansing things you can do. Afterwards you feel lighter, freer, calmer. Once the fire has burnt out, rational thought kicks in and the situation that troubled you in the first place can be addressed with a clear and calm head.
Now that I’ve had a healthy rage over society’s reaction to one women’s body hair, I can rationally and calmly reply to all the bush haters on the Daily Mail blog that they are all a bunch of idiots.
Do you think expressing anger is healthy?
What can parents do to help children experience anger in a healthy way?
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