Anger is a powerful emotion and many individuals deal with this emotion in many different ways. When our anger isn’t dealt with properly, it has the potential to not only destroy us, but also destroy the people around us. Uncontrolled anger can lead to assault, self-harm, arguments, physical abuse, physical fights, and even death. Anger by itself isn’t necessarily a problem; the problem comes with the actions that follow. Well-managed anger has the potential to be a healthy emotion that can make us more aware of issues that may need to be addressed and changed in our lives. Similar to poorly managed stress, anger that isn’t handled the right way can be not only uncomfortable, it can damage our health and personal life; which in turn, will lead to greater levels of stress and anger.
Varying from mild irritation to intense fury and rage, anger is accompanied by biological and physiological changes. When we get angry, our heart rate and blood pressure rise, along with energy hormone levels like adrenaline (a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal medulla in response to stress and high pressure situations), and noradrenaline (neurotransmitter released from the sympathetic nervous system in response to stress). Unfortunately, anger can be caused in many different ways, both externally and internally. Whether it’s the attitude of someone you work with, or something as simple as a traffic jam, or a canceled flight, anger is always around us. Childhood memories of trauma along with constantly obsessing about personal issues can also be a prime source of anger. When our anger is triggered, it is easy to react in ways that make the situation worse, whether that means making regretful comments or acting in ways that have not been fully thought out. It’s always more beneficial to respond to situations while being calm, versus being in a place of ire and emotion. Our instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond with aggression. Anger is our natural and adaptive reaction to threats that inspires powerful feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and defend ourselves when we’re attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary for our survival. Nevertheless, because of laws, social norms, and common sense, limits are placed on how far we allow our anger to take us, which fortunately, prevents us from showing aggression in every foul situation.
When we feel anger beginning to arise, we often immediately know what caused us to feel this way. Sometimes there are many things that have subconsciously built up inside of us emotionally, and the trigger of an angered reaction is simply “the final straw that broke the camel’s back”. Sometimes this is unfortunate, because the event that triggered this “last straw” might have been extremely minor and innocent, however it simply just hit a deeper emotion that we ignored. Dealing with anger is much easier when we know what the actual cause of our anger is. Some of us may naturally feel irritable because of stress, sleep deprivation, or other daily activities; but normally, there is a specific reason for our angered emotion. Once the specific reason is addressed, we can then take the necessary steps to solving the problem and dealing with the emotion.
Anger should be managed rather than stifled or ignored because it can provide us with information about what we want, what we don’t want, and what we need to do next. When acknowledged as a biological signal rather than a to an emotion to ignore, anger can be a useful tool. Listening to our anger, as a signal doesn’t, however, give us the “okay” to act on every angry thought we have. This type of uncontrolled anger can lead to more serious problems than our original issue. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to our feelings of anger when they’re mild, evaluate where they’re coming from, and rationally decide the best course of action to take to manage the situation that triggered the emotion. We all use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes called expressing, suppressing, and calming to deal with our feelings.
Expressing our angry feelings in an assertive, not aggressive manner is the healthiest way for us to express our anger. To do this, we have to learn how to make clear what our needs are, and how to get them met without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it just means being respectful of others, along with us.
Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when we hold in our anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to prevent or suppress our anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it’s not allowed to be expressed, it can turn inward, which can cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or even depression.
Lastly, finding techniques like cognitive reframing that help shift and calm our feelings can help us look at things differently and possibly see solutions that we may not have seen initially. Asking for other people’s perspectives and alternate points of views may help us see calming actions to take. Pondering about our anger and frustration isn’t helpful. Studies show that, among other things, those who have a tendency to chew on situations that have made them angry in their past tend to experience higher blood pressure and are at a greater risk for organ damage and other serious health problems.
Adults are not the only people who feel angry; at times children get angry also. When humans feel threatened, we move into fight, flight or freeze mode, but “fight” is the body’s first response when we are angry. If we make it a habit to yell at our kids, keep in mind that we are modeling behavior that our children will certainly mirror. Expressing anger appropriately is a learned behavior, and our children learn from watching how we handle conflict and disagreement.
Gourmet Services Inc. knows that society can be a fast-paced environment; and for this reasons, we understand how crucial it is to take additional steps to control our internal responses, lower our heart rate, and keep calm during intense situations. We recognize that some of us have chronic issues with anger, which may cause some of us to become emotionally overwhelmed in some situations. If we ever feel like we can use more support with our anger management, discussing our thoughts and feelings with a therapist, counselor or a licensed life coach can be extremely helpful. Not only in addressing specific issues that trigger anger, but also by creating a plan to manage our anger and stress in healthy ways.