Anger: The Defender
Posted August 11, 2007on:
Anger has a unique place in our lives. Let me illustrate. The physical body has its own defender — the immune system. This intricate system has many mechanisms to defend our body against foreign forces. Everyday the physical body defends against the attacks of germs and other threats. I will argue in this article that anger is to the emotions what the immune system is to the physical body. Anger is our great emotional defender.
Emotions like fear, distrust and disappointments are often covered by anger. It is anger that protects those emotions that are most vulnerable. Life can offer up many painful moments which create emotions that are not necessarily displayed without reservation. When one feels emotions like disappointment or fear, one must make a conscious choice to share the details of our pain. If we were to carry our emotions on our shoulders everyday the vulnerability can open us up to threats. We can become the target for those who prey on the weak. These primary emotions by contrast can be contained and then released when we feel that it is safe to share.
There are times unknown to us, when something or someone in the environment “touch” those vulnerable emotions and we react in anger. In split seconds that anger kicks into gear as a primitive response to a perceived threat. This response is synonymous with that of the immune systems which responds when physical threats arise.
This primitive response however, does have an override. We can interrupt the automatic response. We must take a new look at anger and see it as a signal not a call to action. When we feel that physical and emotional surge that is anger, it is in that moment that we must decide the best course of action. Should we fight, flee or freeze? Anger is our defender but only to the extent that we understand that it is subject to a “higher power.” When we feel anger; if we choose to react in uncontrolled rage we essentially have taken on the instinctive reaction of lower creatures.
However if one learns skills in anger management, stress management, communication skills and emotional intelligence, anger as the defender becomes a tool to alert us that our boundaries have been crossed. Therefore, constructive action must be taken to protect what we hold dear.
I believe that anger is a necessary and positive emotion. Our obligation is to use it for what it was designed — a warning sign not a call to action. For a listing of anger management classes in your area visit www.anger-management-resources.org For more of my thoughts on anger visit www.angeronmymind.com
Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF
President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers
Carlos Todd is the owner of Todd’s Anger Management Solutions in Charlotte, NC