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Anger Management: The Role of Emotions in Your Life

Understanding emotions is key to anger management. Emotion is a compound word. The e stands for “energy” and the motion means exactly what it says — “movement.” Emotions move you to act in ways that defend you from threat, lead to social attachments and procreation, cause you to engage in pleasurable pursuits, lead to reattachment after some type of meaningful loss, and lead you to explore your environment.

Without emotion, life would be at a standstill.

Psychiatrists have a term for people who lack appear to lack emotions — including anger: It’s alexithymia. Alexithymics tend to:

  • Have difficulty identifying different types of feelings

  • Appear stiff and wooden in relating to others

  • Lack emotional awareness

  • Lack enjoyment

  • Have trouble distinguishing between emotions and bodily feelings

  • Appear overly logical when it comes to decision making

  • Lack sympathy for others

  • Appear perplexed by other people’s emotions

  • Be unmoved by art, literature, and music

  • Have few, if any, emotional memories (for example, memories of childhood)

You want to have emotions but you want to be in control of those emotions.

You want to let anger move you to write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper about some social injustice. You want your anger to move you to stand up for yourself when your talents are being exploited in the workplace. Anger that says to your spouse, “Hey, something is not working here” is good for a marriage.

But if your anger only moves you to hurt others — or yourself — then you definitely have a problem. Think of anger as a tool that can help you throughout life if you know how to use it.

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