New Habit Mindset

Live Better. Smarter. More Fulfilled

How to use your anger to serve you.


Do you typically stuff your anger?

Is your mantra “keep calm and carry on?”

Do you work hard to stay positive and promote a sunny outlook?

While optimism, positivity, and maximizing wins do lead to happiness, research indicates suppressing our emotions can have negative health consequences and prevent us from achieving desired outcomes.

In their book, “The Upside of your Dark Side, ”authors Robert Biswas-Diener, PhD and Todd Kashdan PhD present a compelling argument drawing on numerous research studies that a pollyanna viewpoint can actually hinder our success.

They propose that we could gain greater results in our lives by embracing our entire range emotions and even capitalizing on those deemed more detrimental such as anger, pessimism, and anxiety.

Biswas-Diener and Kashdan encourage us to make a concerted effort to be present with our entire range of emotions and engage in emotional differentiation.



Many of us have experienced the intensity of rage and anger, an inflammatory emotion that divides countries, groups of people, and families. Caution around expressing anger is highly warranted. The book suggests a “right way to get angry” by starting with what they call a “discomfort caveat.

When anger is expressed with an appropriate tone, an attitude of respect for the recipient, and an upfront apology that you are experiencing intense emotions and feeling discomfort, you can pro-actively use your anger to remove roadblocks to your goals.

Similarly anxiety, in the right context, can keep us attentive and focused on possible risks and threats in the environment that we might, in a positive mindset, automatically dismiss.

It’s important to note that the authors are not advocating that our predominant feelings should be those of anger, anxiety, narcissism, boredom, and contempt. Positive psychology has already proven that happy fulfilled individuals need to have a majority of emotions centered on optimism and positivity.

What they are suggesting is that concealing “negative” emotions could cause us to miss out on a wide arsenal of behaviors that might propel us to live more productively and creatively.

7 New Habit Nuggets:

  1. Pause and pay attention to your negative emotions.

Don’t push them under a veil or suppress them.

  1. Engage in emotional differentiation.

Label all your emotions including those deemed negative. And get down to the nitty-gritty. Anger can range from frustration and rage.

  1. Recognize that your emotions are your barometer.

Emotional discord is a signal something has occurred that conflicts with your values, self-worth, or self-esteem.  Self-reflect

  1. Practice 2 attempts at kindness first.

If the desired results don’t occur, allow yourself to express your negative emotions by using the discomfort caveat:  ( Be sure to start your sentence with how you are feeling.)

“I am feeling uncomfortable bringing this up because I value our relationship, but I am feeling discredited by the work I have done.”

  1. Give people time to reflect.

When you are express frustration, annoyance or anger the natural response is for individuals to become defensive and reactive. Usually, it takes time for them to reflect and act.

  1. Acknowledge negative emotions expressed by others.

At work, if people are expressing boredom or are working on arduous tasks it is often better to empathize with their feelings rather than ignoring and creating a happy hour to circumvent the mood. Being empathic helps to drain the pain.

  1. Bring your whole self to your work and personal life.

Create environments where you can acknowledge your emotional range. Learn to recognize when your “negative” feelings can work for you and help you live more creative and product lives.

Suggested Reading

The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self–Not Just Your “Good” Self–Drives Success and Fulfillment by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener



Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and in Life by Susan David

3 thoughts on “How to use your anger to serve you.

  1. Pingback: What you need to know about willpower |

  2. Pingback: Reacting vs Responding: How mindfulness can tame your emotional frenzy. | New Habit Mindset

  3. Pingback: How to use positive psychology to kickstart your goals for 2018. | New Habit Mindset

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