Showing your anger rather than repressing emotions is the key to a successful professional and personal life, according to research.
By Chris Irvine
Last Updated: 12:14PM GMT 01 Mar 2009 Expressing anger is the key to success Photo: Alamy
A new study by the Harvard Study of Adult Development found that those who keep a check on their frustrations are at least three times more likely to admit they have disappointing personal lives and have hit a glass ceiling in their career.
But those who let their anger out in a constructive manner were more likely to be professionally well-established, as well as enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with loved ones.
Professor George Vaillant, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, has been director of the Study of Adult Development since 1965, which has tracked the lives of 824 men and women for the last 44 years.
Professor Vaillant, based at the Harvard University Health Service, said: “People think of anger as a terribly dangerous emotion and are encouraged to practise ‘positive thinking’, but we find that approach is self-defeating and ultimately a damaging denial of dreadful reality.
“Negative emotions such as fear and anger are inborn and are of tremendous importance. Negative emotions are often crucial for survival: careful experiments such as ours have documented that negative emotions narrow and focus attention so we can concentrate on the trees instead of the forest.”
Although he believes uncontrolled anger is destructive, he criticises the rise in anti-anger mood-stabilising drugs and anger-management counselling because learning to channel anger can serve a vital role in our wellbeing.
He continued: “We all feel anger, but individuals who learn how to express their anger while avoiding the explosive and self-destructive consequences of unbridled fury have achieved something incredibly powerful in terms of overall emotional growth and mental health. If we can define and harness those skills, we can use them to achieve great things.”
A recent study published in the Journal of Social Behaviour and Personality found that more than 55 per cent of people said an angry episode produced a positive outcome, while almost a third admitted the episode helped them see their own faults.