Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Most people believe that anger is a destructive emotion. In a prior blog, I made the case that natural anger is your best friend. It is the reaction that lets you know that a problem exists. Without it, you would not know when to protect yourself from harm. It is like physical pain. It lets you know that you have been harmed and need to defend yourself.

In a prior blog, I talked about the two sources of human emotion, the Natural Self based on reactions to what feels good or bad and the Family Self that is based on the way we were raised. I discussed that anger stems from the Natural Self and guilt/shame stem from the Family Self. The basis for guilt/shame is displeasing your parents. The problem is that the way we were raised is filled with our parent's own imperfections. The rules that we were taught can often be wrong or not apply to a given situation. The Natural Self's reactions tend to be pure and based on honesty. Anger is the voice of the truth within. If it feels wrong, it is wrong regardless of what we were told by anyone. What exactly is wrong needs to be discussed and confirmed by all people involved, but you can count on the fact that something is wrong.

The problem with the emotions from the Natural Self is that they can become confounded by memories that cause emotions to flood from history and join with the reactions in the present. Anger is a perfect example. At it's lowest level, you can trust your anger. If you hold it back, it mixes with old unresolved events and begins to build. When it finally explodes out, it has turned to rage. Rage is destructive for many reasons. It is no longer directed at solving the problem. Rage is directed at silencing the person and hurting them if necessary. Strong defensive reactions, attacking a person's character, interpreting others without their permission, jumping to false conclusions that are defended despite another's opinion are all examples of rage reactions.

When it dies down, rage easily turns to guilt and shame for doing harm to another. Each episode confuses the person even more about the validity of their initial anger. The bad style prompted by rage makes one lose the value of the content. They become more afraid of their anger, hold it back when it appears, and feed the process that ends in rage. Holding back the natural response only starts the cycle all over again.

Rage is anger gone bad. It is not natural and certainly not your best friend. Anger at its lowest level is your best friend. Trust it, respond to it, and you can avoid the rage that hurts us all.