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“Saint Anger”: the name of Metallica’s album released in 2003, and a rather controversial expression if used outside the context of heavy music. Indeed, when it comes to anger—feeling it, expressing it, or even talking about it—people tend to treat it as something horrible, unacceptable, and publicly decried. Anger can quickly transform into rage, and when a person is outrageous, he or she can commit horrible actions. In this relation, it seems the epithet “saint” can be applied to anger in a rather limited number of situations.

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Hundreds of thousands of parents (if not millions) around the world teach their children to suppress or ignore their anger. Intentionally or not, they show their children that feeling angry is wrong, that it is better to always look calm and balanced, and even if there is a thunderstorm of rage boiling in a person’s chest, and that this person should not, under any circumstances, show his or her true emotions. But is it possible to tame a thunderstorm?

Along with this, anger—or, to be exact, the ability to feel, express, and use it constructively—plays an extremely important role in a person’s emotional health. Anger can and probably should be used for self-defense from physical and emotional violence; it is useful for bearing obstacles, achieving goals, and self-realization; anger can show a person what is wrong in their life situation, and give him or her strength to fix it. It performs many functions, so it is crucial to realize why it is important to feel anger.

First of all, anger can be effectively used to establish and defend your personal boundaries, personal space, sense of justice, beliefs, and so on. When another person somehow infringes upon your comfort, one of the first emotions you normally experience is anger—along with the urge to fix an unpleasant situation, cast away the violator, or do something else to defend yourself. Anger provokes you to ask yourself a question, “What has happened? Were my boundaries/freedom/beliefs violated? What can I do to fix it?” In other words, anger returns you to yourself, to your security and personal needs. And the great thing about anger is that it is not only a catalyst, but also a high-octane fuel. When a person is angry, he or she sweeps away any obstacles in their way without rumination. It is important to keep your anger under control: express it in socially-acceptable ways if your life is not under threat, mind not to hurt other people, and so on. But generally, anger demonstrates your readiness to confront threat, and gives you strength to do so (Lifehack). Therefore, when used with care, it is your best weapon for emergencies.

Anger can serve to cloak some other emotions of yours if they are less appropriate. Everyone knows the classic “flight or fight” response to danger. It does not mean you are feeling either scared or aggressive towards a threat; rather often, it means you are both afraid and aggressive. Sometimes, expressing fear is unacceptable—for instance, among men in more traditional cultures, where masculinity and valor is highly valued; so, covering fear with anger, acting aggressively remains a more appropriate option for men, even in more “gender-neutral” western countries. And this is an effective strategy: not just in terms of saving one’s reputation within a certain social group, but once again, in terms of dealing with difficulties and bearing obstacles.

Anger is an extremely powerful emotion—as compared before, alike to a thunderstorm—and it is not recommended, if not dangerous, to suppress or ignore it. A person who has been covering and hiding their anger cannot get rid of it—the anger will still build up inside, finally resulting in unnecessary and/or excessive violence as a response to a situation that does not require it (Foreign Policy News). If a person suppresses his or her anger, it can still manifest itself in a number of dysfunctional behaviors, such as substance abuse, vandalism, and so on.

Therefore, it is important to learn how to manage anger, express it non-violently and in a non-offensive manner, redirect it in constructive directions, and use it as “fuel” for one’s actions that require persistence and large amount of efforts. Anger signalizes that your inner boundaries are being violated, and stimulates you to act accordingly; it can help you temporarily deal with other emotions that are less effective or appropriate in a certain situation; and anyways, if you do not express it, sooner or later it will manifest itself in a form of rage, dysfunctional behaviors, or in other harmful ways. So, do not ignore your anger: face it, accept it, and learn how to deal with it.

Works Cited

  1. “Three Reasons Why Anger is your Friend.” Lifehack. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. .
  2. “The Importance of Being Angry.” Foreign Policy News. N.p., 14 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. .
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