"Physiologically, it simply doesn't matter whether our anger or resentment is justified. The body doesn't make moral judgments about feelings… it just reacts."
~ Adapted from Doc Lew Childre, Jr.

“Physiologically, it simply doesn’t matter whether our anger or resentment is justified. The body doesn’t make moral judgments about feelings… it just reacts.”
~ Adapted from Doc Lew Childre, Jr.

Justifiable Anger!

Many people look at their anger or resentment to determine whether it’s justified or not. If so, meaning some situation just happened that “made us angry,” or if we can point to a person as the cause, we tend to feed, and even act upon these intense emotions. If not, meaning we can’t blame how we feel on something or someone, we might start to question whether the anger is something we really want to feed or continue to feel.

It all revolves around whether we believe our anger and resentment is justified. What’s interesting however is how the body responds. As Doc Childre (a founder of the HeartMath organization) says, “The body doesn’t make moral judgments about feelings… it just responds.”

This response comes in the form of a series of chemical changes in our brain and body. These chemicals, for the most part, are adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol, and in short bursts, these are not harmful. In fact, they can get our heart rate up and our blood pumping in a way that is actually good for us. However, when this intense experience is sustained over a period of time, it becomes what is known as “chronic stress,” and this can be bad for our heart, blood pressure, and overall health.

Therefore, I suggest we ask a different question when we find ourselves feeling angry or resentful. Rather than “Do I have a good reason to be angry?” or, “Do I have a right to be angry?”, I suggest we ask whether we want to feed this anger, whether it is helping us in some way, and/or how long would I like to feel this way?

You see, there are times when anger is a signal that something needs to change. Maybe we are in a relationship that is abusive or is a toxic work environment, and when this is the case, we don’t want to ignore that signal.

However, when our anger is directed at some driver or clerk that we don’t know and will probably never see again, or some person that we don’t want to make important in our lives, then even if the anger is “justified,” I suggest we choose our mental and physical health over our righteous anger and resentment, and move on. Because when we do, the body will respond to this as well, probably in a way we would recommend to someone we love.

~ All the best, Dr. Bill