Disagreements within relationships.
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
Many people come to counselling because they are uncomfortable with their own anger. Having been brought up in households where anger was unsafe or an emotion that was not allowed, they may be at a loss to know how to deal with or even recognise their own.One way to unpick such discomfort is to differentiate between anger and rage.Anger is an emotion that we all experience, it allows us to set boundaries, define who we are and gives us the energy to communicate our needs and as a result effect change. When we are angry and we allow ourselves time to reflect on it, we are not out of control, but able to think, act and communicate. Within a relationship acts of communication increase intimacy and security. Anger can also protect us from exploitation or oppression.Rage on the other hand occurs when we are overwhelmed by an experience and cannot integrate it. It takes us out of our zones of comfort and when it occurs, and we lose the ability to think. Rage can be hot or cold. In hot rage a person may shout or lash out. In cold rage they shut down and distance themselves. These responses are very similar to the fight, flight and freeze that people experience when they feel under threat. Any of these responses are more destructive than constructive.Whilst anger relates to the here and now, is proportionate and is usually expressed and completed within a few minutes, rage is out of proportion and may last for hours or days.How can therapy help?Therapy provides a safe and containing space where we can gently unpick the emotions such as sadness, hurt or rejection that underly anger.As emotions are never selectively suppressed by allowing ourselves to explore and air uncomfortable emotions, we also allow ourselves a richer experience of our more joyful emotions