Actually, You're Not Really Angry. What You Feel Is 'Helpless'

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anger issues

Anger is an emotion we've all experienced, but not everyone understands. Though not everyone suffers from anger issues, there are so many misconceptions about what anger is and isn’t, so I’m going to let you in on a big secret that’ll help you release your anger and feel calmer and more compassionate. 

Let me start with a question first: Is anger a positive or a negative emotion? Well, that’s actually a trick question.  Emotions aren’t positive or negative.  And if you think of them that way, you’ll get yourself into trouble because you’ll try to chase the “positive” ones (happiness, love, and pleasure) and avoid the “negative” ones (anger, anxiety, and sadness).

RELATED: 5 Best Ways To Deal With Your Anger (So You Can Find Peace Without Medication)

That’s no good. And when you try to control, suppress or chase certain emotions, you end up doing things you shouldn’t (like overeating, drugs, alcohol, spending money, and diving into relationships) in your quest to feel only the good and avoid the bad stuff.

Instead, I want you to think of emotions as either being healthy (and moving you forward) or unhealthy and (keeping you stuck). 

With that mind, understand that there are times when "being content" can actually keep you stuck. For example, have you ever stayed in a relationship or job long past when you should have left? In those instances, contentment may have felt like a positive emotion, but it was keeping you stuck. So, guess what? It’s unhealthy! 

That brings us to the topic of anger. Anger is actually a healthy emotion.  Think about it for a moment: Anger is often very motivating. You know, like when you think your butt looks too big so you get pissed and haul yourself to the gym. Or, if you’re upset about the latest political campaign and it motivates you to start working the polls.   

The problem is that a lot of people think they’re experiencing anger, but what they’re really experiencing is rage! And rage is an unhealthy emotion.  This is because rage = anger + helplessness.

It’s the combination of the two that’s the problem, not anger on its own.   Feelings of anger come and go. Rage stays with you all day. 

A lot of clients come to me and say they have anger issues.  In the past, they were told to do things like “count to ten” and “breathe through their feelings.”   They end up working with me because this doesn’t work. It didn’t work because they focused on the wrong thing.  They were focusing on the anger they felt instead of on the helplessness.  

RELATED: Go Ahead, Get Mad — It’s Good For You (Says Science)

So, if you want to feel better and really change how you feel, you need to shift your attention to the helplessness you feeling.    As luck (or years of therapy) would have it, there’s actually a quick and very effective way to stop feeling helpless: take action.

If you want to stop feeling helpless, you need to take some form of positive action.  No matter how small the step, if you just do one thing, you’ll start to feel different. You’ll start to feel empowered.  

For example, let’s say you’re furious at your boss because he treats you unfairly. Maybe he favors another coworker or maybe he’s just always micromanaging you. You feel helpless because you need this job, and whenever you’ve tried to talk to him in the past, he shuts you down.  

What you really are, in this case, is enraged.  If you focus on how angry you are at him and try techniques to stop your anger, it’s not going to work long-term.    Instead, start taking action to deal with your feelings of helplessness. 

This might mean investigating night classes you can take to earn a degree or get another job. Even though the degree would take awhile, you’d definitely feel better once you start that process.  Or, maybe you start looking for a new job in the classifieds or within your network. Or, maybe you start documenting all the things your boss does that seems unfair.  

It’s about taking your power back.  

 All of these actions will change your mood. I’m not saying you won’t still feel angry, but you’ll no longer feel helpless. When you get mad, it’ll be fleeting — it will go away and won’t stay like a cloud over you 24/7.    

RELATED: The Hidden Reason Men Get Angry With Women Over 'Nothing'

If you’re ready to take this one step further, here is an awesome FREE tool that you can use to shift from angry and resentful to compassionate and patient in less than 10 minutes! Get your free download right here and start feeling better today!