I love exploring emotions from both a neurological perspective and a philosophical one. Here’s some fantastic writing from Newberg and Waldman (How God Changes your Brain), about anger:
“Anger makes people indiscriminately punitive, blameful, pessimistic and unilaterally careless in their logic and reasoning skills. Furthermore, anger encourages your brain to defend your beliefs- be they right or wrong- and when this happens, you’ll be more likely to feel prejudice towards others. You’ll inaccurately perceive anger in other people’s faces, and this will increase your own distrust and fear. It’s an insidious process that feeds on itself, and it can influence your behaviour for very long periods of time, Eventually, it will even damage important structures in our brain.
Nor is it good for your heart. Regardless of your age, gender or ethnicity – anger, cynicism, hostility, and defensiveness will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular problems. What makes anger particularly dangerous is that it blinds you to the fact that you are even angry; thus it gives you a false sense of certainty, confidence and optimism,”
This inspires so many thoughts for me!
The last point in particular, about anger making us feel certain, confident and optimistic might sound strange, but I have noticed that people use anger to protect themselves from depression, sadness and feelings of disempowerment. As a therapist, I’m often working towards helping people lift up their anger and take a look underneath, because it’s usually an offensive defence used to shield feelings of vulnerability. Continue reading