Although anger clearly has some connection with hostility and aggression, they are not the same. Hostility is an attitude of ill will, aggression refers to behaviour that is always meant to hurt, whereas anger is an emotion - plain and simple. Anger is neither a positive or negative emotion; it is the way we handle our anger - what we do with it - that makes it negative or positive. For example, when we use our anger to motivate us to make life changes or to make changes to dysfunctional systems, anger becomes a very positive emotion.
When we express anger through aggressive or passive-aggressive ways (such as getting even or gossiping), it becomes a negative emotion. So why do we need anger at all? Why not simply work toward eliminating it from our lives entirely? The reason is that there are many positive functions of anger:
• It energizes and motivates us to make changes in our lives.
• It serves as a catalyst for resolving interpersonal conflict.
• It promotes self-esteem - when we stand up for ourselves, we feel better about ourselves.
• It fosters a sense of personal control during times of peak stress.
• Expression of anger can actually promote health. Women with cancer who express their anger are found to live longer than those who express no anger.
• As uncomfortable as anger is for many of us, it can be preferable to anxiety, as it lays the blame outside ourselves.
If we find constructive ways of releasing anger and safe places to let it out, it can become a positive force in our lives, creating energy, motivation, assertiveness, empowerment, and creativity.
"The Nice Girl Syndrome" - Beverly Engel, pp. 165-167