What Are the Pros and Cons of Venting Anger?

Debra Barnhart

Under threat, both human beings and animals are capable of growling and glaring. Animals often become hostile over physical threat to their survival, but humans do not have to be threatened with bodily harm to become irate. Understanding the causes of anger is central to knowing how to manage it, as anger can sometimes be a motivating emotion. Anger can be aired with positive effects, but it is important to express it in constructive ways and at the right target. On the contrary, not venting anger may have physiological and psychological consequences.

Chronic anger might contribute to coronary disease.
Chronic anger might contribute to coronary disease.

People often become angry when their self-perceptions, privileges and possessions are threatened. These situations are often not related to physical survival, but they are important to human beings. Thriving in society and in relationships is a balancing act that takes a great deal of daily negotiation. Many people go through life with a fixed sense of who they are, and if this sense of self is challenged they can become hurt and angry. People are protective of their privileges and possessions as well and view them as entitlements.

People are not always consciously aware of why they are angry.
People are not always consciously aware of why they are angry.

Anger can sometimes be a catalyst that moves a person to positive action. For example, a woman who is fuming because her husband cheated, might vent her anger by becoming a tough negotiator in the divorce process. This can be seen as a constructive and productive way of venting anger.

Venting anger on a spouse can damage the relationship.
Venting anger on a spouse can damage the relationship.

Venting anger verbally can be another positive way to air emotion, although it is important to keep in mind that accepting and managing emotions is a lifelong learning process for most people. Probably the best way to communicate anger is in a calm, logical manner without using words that might harm another person and be a later cause for regret. Considering the fact that anger is often accompanied by a strong desire to get even, this is no easy task.

Directing anger at the right person or persons is fundamental to successfully venting anger. This might require some self-analysis. People are not always consciously aware of why they are angry, or they may not have the courage to confront the real issue. For instance, a man who is mad at his stay-at-home wife for going out to lunch and shopping every day instead of taking care of household matters, might lose his temper with his child since that is easier than acknowledging the real problem.

According to both conventional wisdom and medical studies, if people do not face their anger it could come back to bite them. Anger is often accompanied by an increase in blood pressure and heart rate as well as a rise in adrenaline and non-adrenaline, so it can clearly have both physiological and psychological consequences. Some experts say that people who are chronically angry have a higher rate of coronary disease. Probably the best place to start the process of venting anger is to be aware of the emotion and to contemplate its source before taking action.

Difficulty with controlling anger can lead to high blood pressure.
Difficulty with controlling anger can lead to high blood pressure.

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