Feeling Happy with Being Angry

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As I work to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I have about 8-10 weekly therapy sessions with clients. I see a wide variety of presenting problems and people with no one case being the same as another. However, some themes start sticking out the more individuals I work with. One particular theme that I have heard and worked hard to fight against is the idea, “I cannot or should not feel angry.”

Every one of us has eight primary emotions. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger are the five identified in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, but we also experience interest (sometimes called anticipation), surprise, and shame. Every person is born with these emotions wired into their brain. That wiring causes our bodies to react in certain ways and to awaken certain urges when the emotion arises. This is nature. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way many of us learned that only seven of these emotions are safe to feel, while one needs to be squashed and eliminated.

On the one hand, it’s not hard to see why anger is ... Read more »