The emotion of anger is stigmatized: It’s associated with violence, recklessness, and poor self-regulation. What few people realize is that anger is OK! Everyone experiences anger. From an evolutionary perspective, we experience anger to better navigate interpersonal conflicts and act in defense of threats. It is one of the core emotions that all humans experience.

In modern days, we need to learn to channel our anger and use it in beneficial ways, not harmful ones. Below are a list of four reasons why anger can be a positive, safe, and healthy emotion.


1. Feeling angry might help you persist in achieving your goals

Anger can be a great motivator to help drive you forward. Use your anger as motivational fuel! A recent study in China found that infants who were feeling angry were more likely to persist in working towards a goal that they really wanted to achieve.

Another study found that people were more motivated when they were cued with angry faces instead of a reward cue.


2. Anger can strengthen relationships 

Anger is a sign that something is wrong. When you calmly and safely express your anger in any sort of relationship, it signals that there is a problem- which motivates fixing that problem. Long-term hiding of your anger means your relationship partner may never know that something needs to change. If you hide your anger, or hold it in and then ‘burst’, it can hurt your relationship (see study here).

Anger is a natural component of relationships- it teaches you how to communicate and navigate conflict. Don’t avoid it!


3. Anger might actually help you think more rationally 

PH.D Wesley Moons led a study that found that, despite the stereotype that anger can make us act irrationally, anger can help us process more analytically and rationally.

This may be because we are able to discriminate which cues/ details in a situation are irrelevant, and which are important. Angry people were better able to choose between weak or strong arguments than people who were not angry.


4. Emotional discomfort teaches us about ourselves and helps us grow

Feeling anger or another uncomfortable emotion shows us where our boundaries are and when we need to focus on our needs in a very real and visceral way. Paying attention to cues that you’re angry can help you recognize when you’re feeling uncomfortable and motivate you to take positive steps to change this or set boundaries for yourself. Focus on closing the disparity between the anger-eliciting situation you’re in, and the outcomes you’d like to see.

Anger has a bad stigma, but it can be used in productive ways. It’s a completely natural emotion, and a part of our biopsychology. Next time you’re feeling angry, remind yourself that it isn’t ‘bad’ to be feeling this way- it’s normal.  How can you channel your anger into positive actions? How can you express yourself in a kind, empathetic way?



The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.