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How Can Anger Help You Live A More Meaningful Life?

Ever noticed that ‘anger’ is contained in the word ‘danger’?

(That’s actually what the sign in this photograph says).

And it’s often how anger’s treated – like a ‘dangerous’ emotion. Volatile. Caustic. Like it might lead us to act impulsively or say things we might later regret, or to feel things we ‘shouldn’t’ feel.

So maybe you were taught to suppress it. Stifle it. Avoid it. Perhaps to secretly seethe with it on the inside but to pretty much ignore it in public. To pretend you don’t have it, maybe – that you’re ‘above it’ somehow.

Or maybe you’ve learned that anger gives you some sense of power. That it sort of justifies a ‘right’ to take spontaneous action because it ‘makes’ you. Perhaps you’ve even used it to justify behaviours you might otherwise feel remorseful about. Or maybe it lets you do things that it might otherwise be hard to work up the courage for.

But what if anger has another whole side to it that’s often overlooked?

What if it’s more than just an emotion? What if, like in the photo, anger could be a kind of sign for you, a signal, pointing to something else on your horizons?

If so, what might your anger be pointing to?

Or, to put it another way, if anger appears for a reason, what might that reason be?

What might it have to tell you about how you’re living your life?
Or about what you need right now?
Or about what might be missing in this situation?
Or about what you value?

It might also be worth noticing if there’s any patterns here for you.
For instance, do you often find yourself getting angry in similar situations? Or with the same people (again and again)?

And, if so, what might it be like to stop and think about the reason anger turns up then, rather than just getting swept up in the biochemical cascade of the emotion itself?

What hidden gifts might anger have to offer you in those moments?

What insights into very the core of you – into what really matters in your life?

It might seem a little strange at first, but thinking about anger less as something inherently ‘dangerous’ or ‘bad’, and perhaps more as just a signpost can sometimes unearth some really important stuff. And in that way, perhaps anger can even become a kind of ally in your life…

So, it’s over to you. What sort of things might your signpost be pointing to?

(And feel free to share your insights here, so we can all learn from each other about how anger might help us live a little closer to what really matters…)


Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She was the former editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.
How Can Anger Help You Live A More Meaningful Life?

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar

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APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2011). How Can Anger Help You Live A More Meaningful Life?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 13 Apr 2011
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