Anger doesn’t feel good. It makes our hearts race and our palms sweat. It makes us feel anxious and scared. We grew up in a society driven by the “pleasure principle”––the instinct to seek positive feelings and experiences and to avoid pain. If there’s a feeling we don’t like, we try to get rid of it. This overwhelming urge to bury our anger––or to let it burst out in a lighting fast rage—is terrible for us. But, is emotional discomfort good for you?
Most of us find anger uncomfortable on several levels. Besides the uncomfortable physical sensations triggered by our own anger (see above: heat racing, sweaty palms), other people’s anger also makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we assume people are angry with us even when evidence points in other directions––or not to anger at all. And if someone does get angry with us, we sometimes lie, cheat, or worse to alleviate our discomfort and diffuse the threat.
Our own anger can also be frightening. Sometimes the rage we feel at our children can be deeply upsetting and guilt-inducing. Because anger is so uncomfortable, it’s incredibly difficult for us to sit with our feelings––to set aside distractions, mindfully examine our sensations and emotions, and find out what our anger might reveal. However, anger is too important and can reveal too much to us for us to dismiss it.