Anger is a natural emotion that is neither good nor bad. It is nature’s way of empowering human beings to “ward off” the perception of a threat or attack to one’s well being. Therefore, it is an entirely normal and perfectly healthy human emotion. However, feeling angry is not the problem; the problem is how you control anger, making all the difference in the world. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you and others.
Whether it is a fleeting annoyance towards something or a full-fledged rage, no doubt anger needs to be managed at the right time, lest it gets out of control. Unfortunately, 1 out of 5 Americans has a problem managing their anger. Mismanaged rage and anger are the leading cause of conflict in personal and professional relationships.
It can lead to problems in personal relationships, problems at work and can significantly compromise your quality of life in general. For most people, anger makes them feel like they are at the mercy of a compelling, unpredictable and uncontrollable emotion.
Divorce, road rage, domestic abuse, addiction and workplace violence are a few of the many examples of what can happen if and when anger is poorly managed.
There are two things people should never be angry at – what they can help and what they cannot.
Categories of anger
Anger can be generally categorized into two – mild and full-blown rage.
Mild anger is what includes such things as dislike, irritation or displeasure towards something/someone. So, for example, when you react to criticism, frustration, or a threat, it is perfectly normal and healthy to get angry.
On the flip side of the coin is a secondary reaction to feeling lonely, sad or frightened. When mild anger turns into full-blown rage, your thinking and judgment can get impaired, and this is when you are likely to do and say something irrational and unreasonable.
One more thing that should be clear is that anger is not only a mental state of mind. There is a lot that comes with anger, most notable increase in blood pressure, increase in heart rate, and increase in noradrenaline and adrenaline levels in the body.
Another thing that you should know about anger is that it is a natural survival tactic. Generally, it forms part of flight brain response to something perceived as a threat. In other words, when you decide to confront fear, danger or take action against something perceived to be a threat to your well-being, anger is what will help you take action.
Important facts and information about anger
- You are rarely angry for the reasons you think.
- You get angrier when you are depressed, stressed and when all your body resources are down.
- You will get mad when you do not get what you need.
- You can get angry in reaction to something that happened to you when you were young.
- Beneath most current waves of anger lies traumas, disappointments, and triggers of anger.
- Many people will get angry when a current situation unearths an old unsolved event or situation from the past.
- Anger feelings get very strong when an existing problem or event has similar words, content, or energy that one can relate to in the past.
Myths and facts about anger
One should not hold in anger; venting is the healthier way out.
Indeed, ignoring and suppressing anger can be detrimental to your health, and venting it out aggressively is not better. Be advised that anger isn’t something that should be “let out” aggressively to avoid blowing up. An outburst can only fuel and reinforce the underlying anger problem.
Anger management revolves around learning how to control anger.
The goal of anger management is not about not getting angry. As previously mentioned, anger is a normal, healthy expression of one’s feelings, and whether you suppress it or not, it will eventually come out.
To effectively control anger, you should be aware of your feelings and developing a healthier approach to emotions. In other words, it is about knowing how to express anger constructively and effectively.
Anger is something that is out of control for an individual.
While you cannot control whatever situation you find yourself in and how the problem will make you feel, rest assured you have all the power within you to control how you will express your anger. In other words, it is possible to express anger without being physically or verbally abusive.
How to control anger
1. Determine the root cause of the anger.
A short fuse could result from traits you picked up from when you were a child. For example, if your parents or older siblings were throwing things around, hitting and screaming at each other, you might have been misled to believe that that is how anger should be expressed.
Suppose you have trouble expressing emotion apart from anger. In that case, you have difficulty cooperating, and you perceive different viewpoints and opinions as challenges to you, then you should sit down and clearly define the root cause of your problem.
2. Know your anger signs and what triggers anger in you.
How do you react to anger? For example, do you have knots in the stomach, feel flushed or clammy, have a pounding heart, breathe faster, and have trouble concentrating? What triggers anger? Is it that you overgeneralize stuff, do you mind-read and jump to conclusions, are you obsessed with “musts” and “shoulds”?
3. Know how to cool off.
Before seeking professional help, you can start by buying self-help books on how to control anger.
The fact that anger can get out of control means you should take the necessary measures to react positively. However, you shouldn’t just vent it out anyhow, as it may end up hurting you and the people close to you.
Self-management and seeking professional guidance and help when the going gets tough is always the right approach to control anger.