Anger is considered a negative emotion by many people. When people speak of anger it is often in very negative terms, for instance, “anger is bad” or, “I shouldn’t get angry.“ Anger is like any other emotion it is neither good nor bad it is just an emotion that wants and needs to be expressed. It is what people do with their anger which is important. Everyone from time to time feels anger in their relationships. Sometimes expressing strong feelings is useful when a person is dealing with strong emotions. But when anger starts to intimidate others then it is unhealthy and counterproductive in relationships.

Anger can often hide other strong emotions like fear, embarrassment, hurt, shame, humiliation or jealousy. When there are a complex range of emotions a person may lash out with anger to protect their vulnerability. They may find it difficult to express their feelings of hurt or shame to their partner, family or friends. So their natural response is to become angry. For some people anger has become their main avenue for expressing strong emotions. This may be in part due to not feeling heard for most of their life or being exposed to high levels of anger in their family of origin. Learning how to express anger without intimidating others is an important part of establishing a healthy open and supportive relationship.

Men are often labelled as needing to manage anger in a healthier way. A man may experience difficulty in expressing their emotions due to social conditioning and nurture. Men still turn to anger and violence to resolve conflicts. Expressing high levels of anger is not good for the person or those around them. High levels of anger may lead to relationship difficulty at work, with friends, family and principle relationships. Once anger gets out of control it can escalate into domestic violence, verbal fights, physical fights, and property damage. This can lead to anxiety and depression, low self-esteem and psychosomatic illness. But there is also a need to express feelings of anger in a controlled healthy way or it may lead to a pressure cooker experience.

Learning to manage anger is an important aspect of any relationship. This means understanding the triggers that lead to an escalation of anger and the warning signs of when you are about to lose control of your emotions. It is important to recognise that it is possible to manage your anger through techniques that calm you down and manage situations in a controlled way. We are not purely animals of instinct, we do have choice when we begin to feel flooded by our emotions. We can choose to become overwhelmed with feelings of anger or we may choose another path that leads to a better communication and understanding.

Christopher Swane - Counselling And Psychotherapy For Men - Wellington New Zeland