What is Anger?
Anger is a basic human emotion. Everyone experiences feelings of anger at times. It is OK to feel angry, but sometimes how we respond to or express anger can lead to problems. Anger as an emotion can vary from simple annoyance to passionate rage. Anger is natural, it is a signal and one that may be worth paying attention to. We refer to this as controlling our anger or anger management.
The emotion of anger is accompanied by physical changes, such as increased heart rate, higher blood pressure and stress hormones being released. This can result in symptoms such as shaking, becoming hot, sweating and feeling like you are out of control.
Angry feelings often result in certain behaviours such as yelling, criticising, storming out and sometimes even withdrawing and ignoring. In some circumstances, if angry feelings are not properly identified and managed, it may lead to violence. When your anger expresses itself in a damaging or detrimental way, obtaining the support of a qualified professional is recommended.
Why do we get Angry?
Anger is an important emotion. It is often a warning signal that can tell you when you are being mistreated, when you are doing or giving too much to others or when your sense of identity is being impacted.
Anger is a primal instinct designed to protect us and keep us safe. It can also be a reaction to something else you are feeling, such as (but not limited to):
We are often angry because things don’t work out the way we want or people don’t act the way we believe they should. Anger can also result from poor communication or misunderstandings. Often it is easier to feel angry than to process more complex emotions. The first step to managing anger is figuring out what is making you angry in the first place. When angry feelings repeatedly show up in your life it may be worth reflecting on what is triggering you. What unmet needs, unresolved issues and old frustrations may be present? If you are not aware of your triggers or you find your anger distressing, professional counselling can help.
When is Anger a Problem?
Your anger becomes a problem when it creates issues with relationships, at work, with your health or with the law. It is also a problem if those around you feel scared, hurt or unable to talk (or disagree) with you because of your reactions.
Signs that anger is a problem include:
- Your anger involves physical, verbal or emotional abuse.
- You are angry often, or your anger lasts for a long time.
- People around you are worried or scared.
- Your anger is causing problems at home or work.
- You are depressed or anxious or about your anger.
- You are using alcohol (or other drugs) as a way to manage your anger.
What are the warning signs?
To be able to control your anger, you need to be able to recognise the warning signs that you are getting angry. These include:
- Feeling hot, flushing in the face or sweating
- Elevated breathing
- Pounding heart or tight chest
- Gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw, tensing your arms or shoulders
- A sensation of increased pressure in the head
- Pacing or being unable to sit still
- Temporarily losing your sense of humour
- Being able to recognise that you are getting angry gives you the opportunity to do something to diffuse the situation and stop it getting out of control.
Why should we Manage Anger?
Expressing anger in a violent, abusive or negative way often has significant costs to you and those that you love. It is also unhealthy (and unhelpful) to suppress anger and it usually “leaks” out anyway. Underlying resentments build up and can lead to behaviours such as stonewalling, sarcastic remarks and non-verbal behaviours such as eye rolling, or sighing.
To be able to constructively manage anger, to learn to express and manage our anger in a way that acknowledges the feeling without harming ourselves or anyone else is a valuable life skill.
What is Anger Management?
Anger management does not mean ignoring your feelings but involves dealing with it appropriately so that that it doesn’t get bottled up. This is vital for your health and the health of those around you.
Anger management is about understanding what triggers your anger, recognising any warning signs, learning ways to constructively express your feelings and learning how to calm down and techniques to manage situations before your emotions get out of control.
Seeking Professional Assistance
Anger is a normal emotion and if managed properly, is not a problem. However, if you express anger in destructive ways, or it continues over a long period, it can lead to problems in your personal and professional relationships and in turn can affect your quality of life.
If you’re getting angry often, or for no reason, or finding it hard to control your anger, you may need to get some support. If your anger comes out in violent ways, you should talk to someone you can trust and who can help you.
If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with anger please contact Wellbeing Therapy Space: