Understanding the anger you have and how to master it will empower you to live a successful and happy life.
Anger is a basic human emotion that we all experience. Anger can be defined as experiencing displeasure in something or someone deemed to be a threat, harmful or evil. Anger is part of what is called the fight mechanism in
our body which is often caused by anxiety when there is a perceived threat to self, to ones rights, possessions or moral and ethical values. Anger is aroused by anxiety because of a perceived threat to one’s self, possessions, rights, or values. We can experience anger when we feel blocked or prevented from saying or doing something that we feel is important to us. Also when we have feelings of vulnerability or powerlessness then anger is expressed as a defensive response.
How intense is your anger?
The intensity of anger can determine the outcome of help or harm. Anger is not rage but can be rageful. Anger is the name or category of emotion that exists within the human psyche. Anger is often described using many different words to convey type and intensity. Such words can include: irritation, frustration, resentment, anger, hatred, and rage.
Using the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale or SUDS, where 0 = totally calm and 10 = highest intensity of emotional experience. When anger is experienced from 1-5 on the SUDS scale then the deed is rejected rather than the person it is directed towards. When it is greater between 5-10 then you are rejecting the person, this is when harm comes into being.
Depending on personality and culture anger can have different expressions. For example in some cultures when a person is in high intensity anger (5-10) they will yell, scream, throw things, break things, physically, verbally, and emotionally harm people. While another person may take the passive-aggressive approach which can be seen as giving someone the cold-shoulder, ignoring them, giving them the silent treatment and possibly some snapping words and veiled insults. Both types are violent in different ways. Both are destructive and harmful.
Helpful anger is necessary because it is a healthy response to situations. Helpful anger brings to our attention something that needs to be addressed and not ignored. What does helpful or healthy anger look like?
- When the response is a realistic reflection of circumstantial threat.
- When a person stays in control of him/herself.
- When a person is able to control and modulate their emotional intensity.
- When a person is able to be assertive rather than aggressive or passive.
- When a person is able to discuss as an adult rather then from the position of talking like a parent or a child (Transactional Analysis).
- When the threat ceases to exist so does the anger.
Unhealthy harmful anger
Unhealthy or harmful anger is what is more frequently observed and understood. Unhealthy harmful anger is developed and expressed when…
- A person is punishing or harming another individual.
- A person is violent verbally or physically.
- A person is manipulative, controlling, or intimidates another person.
- Your response is self-serving and selfish.
- You habitually push away or push down your emotions.
- You blame others for your mistakes or misfortunes.
- You are okay with people who are angry and aggressive.
- You hold onto your anger and hold a grudge.
- You hurt or disappointed with yourself, people, and the world.
What causes anger?
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
Here are some of the possible underlying causes for harmful anger:
- Poor or unhealthy attachment in childhood.
- Sexual abuse
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Neglect in childhood
- Learned behaviour from family and friends
How does anger effect you physically?
When we feel anger from mild to extreme certain things in our body happen, such things as:
- The amygdala in our brain is activated and sends signals to the body that danger is present and you need to respond to protect yourself.
- Blood pressure increases.
- Heart rate increases.
- Breath rate increases.
- Blood flow increases and enters your limbs and extremities to prepare you for physical action.
- Hormones are released such as adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
How can I manage my anger?
Inappropriate anger whether internalized or externalized is harmful to you physically, can and will result in loss of relationships, jobs, income, sleep, and possibly your life.
Learning breathing techniques, meditation techniques, healthy distractions such as good social interactions that may involve laughter will aid in helping you to calm. Managing anger is something you cannot successfully master yourself in the long run. Why? Simply put unless you resolve the underlying cause(s) to your anger problems they will simply manifest in a different way or will arise again and again in similar ways as before.
Anger Management Program
At New Hope Counselling Centre we offer both courses that you can attend or individualized sessions.
I like what Raymond W. Novaco, Ph.D. said in 1984, “We all experience anger; anger only becomes a serious concern when an individual is angry too frequently, too intensely, and for too long.”
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