- Mental Health
How to Deal with Anger
What is anger?
a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.
Do you find that you are angry often? Is the intensity of the anger a concern? Anger is a basic human emotion. Yet, it can be dangerous if not well managed. Learning about anger’s causes and signs can be a way to identify one’s source of anger. It can also help identify healthy or unhealthy anger. The more you learn about anger, the more prepared to manage it you can become.
Signs of Anger
The signs of anger can vary from one person to the next. One person may experience an incredible calmness while another passionate rage. Here are five common areas that may change when anger occurs:
Know How to Describe Your Level of Anger
Degrees of Anger
Slightly irritated or frustrated
· Tightness in the chest, shoulders or stomach
· Flushed face
· Rapid heart beat
· Elevated voice
· Hushed voice
· High pitched
· Lowered pitched
· Lashing out verbally or physically
· Toughing head
· Clasping or wringing hands
· Loss of sense of humor
· For anything else that is a “soother”
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5 Common Causes of Anger
The causes of anger are as varied as the signs. Yet, learning to identify common triggers for anger can help in the management of this strong emotion.
1. Family Feuds: Family issues can cause people to become anywhere from mildly to intensely angry. Problems in the home can become serious triggers for anger because of how deeply rooted they can be. For example, I can get extremely angry with my mother over seemly small issues but really it is rooted in old tears in our relationship. It takes a lot of work to heal old hurts in a family. Without that healing, anger can crop up at any turn.
2. Work Stress: Our work lives all reach points where they can feel overwhelming. The byproduct of such stress can be anger. Finding yourself more agitated at work? It might be time to look at your stress load and to evaluate your coping mechanisms.
3. Pain or Hurt: The natural and often first reaction to hurt or pain is anger. Whether an emotional or even physical hurt, anger usually follows.
4. Lack of Sleep: Even children experience the “grumpiness” that comes with missing sleep. As an adult, the effects of missing sleep can be extreme and can often include agitation. I find that my response to common irritations such as long lines at the grocery store can be more exaggerated when I am tired.
5. Unreasonable Expectations: When we have expectations, especially ones that are unreasonable, it is a self-made trigger for anger. I have found that in relationships, for example, when I am expecting someone to behave or react in a certain way, especially a way that would be uncharacteristic for him/her, I experience a feeling of disappoint. I feel much more at ease without such expectations. When others place unreasonable expectations on us, we usually react with anger as well.
Gary Chapman on Anger
When is Anger Healthy?
· When it brings about positive change: Anger can be a powerful tool for change. When anger causes you to make new decisions that change your path, it is healthy. For example, when I was in a relationship where I constantly found myself angry, I was finally able to see it was time for me to leave. My anger helped me make a new, healthy choice.
· When it is expressed in a healthy way (such as talking to others, writing or exercise): When you are able to express your anger in a healthy way, it can be healthy. For example, my anger associated with my break up fueled me to start writing. I was able to turn my anger into something healthy. It allowed me to air my feelings as well as do something good for me.
When is Anger Unhealthy?
· When it hurts others verbally, emotionally or physically: When others are hurt by our anger, our anger is unhealthy. We all experience some unhealthy anger and knowing when it is a problem is how we can change.
· When it causes you pain, guilt or depression: When we hurt ourselves with our anger it is also unhealthy. Learning to manage our anger means finding ways not to fall into the pit of self-degradation that can accompany anger.
· When it fuels addiction: Compulsive anger can be part of the cycle of addiction. When an addict experiences anger their reaction is to use their drug of choices (food, sex, drug, alcohol, money, cigarettes, etc.). After using they feel guilt that may later lead to anger (defensiveness with loves ones, confrontations at work, etc.). The cycle starts again.
How to Manage Anger
1. Find healthy outlets: Finding healthy outlets such as exercise, writing, woodworking, drawing, painting or gardening can make for a more balanced life. When we have outlets for our feelings our relationships often improve and we are less likely to lash out.
2. Lower your stress: Lowering your stress level is another way to find more balance. If being stressed causes you irritation and shortness with those you love, it may be worth it to let some things go. Consider taking regular vacations or simply not taking your work home.
3. Get regular rest: Sleep is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle. Being more rested will instantly boost your mood and attitude.
4. Get clear: Finding out why you are angry is a key component to managing anger. Until you know why you are angry, it is hard to address the feelings. Writing or talking with others can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger.
5. Deal with core issues: If you find that you have childhood issues or major relationship problems, dealing with those problems head on can free you from reoccurring anger.
3 Signs that it is Time to Seek Help
1. You feel out of control when you are angry: You simply do not know what may happen once you become angry. This is dangerous for you and those around you and is definitely a sign to seek some professional help.
2. You are constantly angry: If you are finding that you are consistently angry, it is time to seek help. While it is common for everyone to experience anger, constant anger is a sign of deeper problems. A professional can help you sort through your emotions and experiences to identify the source of your anger.
3. Anger is ruining the quality of your relationships: If you are noticing that your anger is inhibiting your opportunity to maintain healthy relationships, seeking help is in your best interest.
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