Understanding Anger

What is anger?

We all experience anger from time to time. It is a healthy reaction to the feeling of fear and it is an emotion that is a direct response to our ‘fight or flight instinct. It should actually receive a little more credit for its ability to have secured our survival as human beings. However, it is not the feeling of a small annoyance, but how often of how extreme that that emotion manifests that determines whether or not it is actually a growing problem. 

Experiencing anger can have a destructive impact on our relationships with our loved ones. It can also change the way in which we see ourselves, making it difficult to love ourselves after our confidence has shattered apart by the effects of a series of frustrating episodes. The result of being unable to manage anger can impede our ability to successfully communicate how we feel and subsequently fall into a perpetual cycle of unhelpful thoughts and behaviours. 

Anger can stem from the feelings of being deprived of something or have been dealt an injustice by others. Have you ever felt that something just was uncalled for, or unfair? It can also result from feeling mistreated or root in unresolved trauma that can lead us to over-generalise and label ourselves as well as others. 

 

What are the symptoms of anger?

Physical Symptoms:

  • An increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Increased breathing pattern
  • Sweating
  • Rushing thoughts 

Believe it or not, there is a justified reason as to why we suffer from those physical symptoms. When we were in the early stages of our human development, this ‘fight or flight’ mechanism enabled us to either run away, freeze or challenge what was making us feel afraid. In order to do those things, we need to generate enough oxygen and bloody flow to sufficiently supply our muscles with the necessities to respond quickly. The issue is that this somewhat primitive reaction actually conflicts with the responses that we need to negotiate and communicate within stressful environments such as an office or a classroom. We would probably lose our job or even wind up in prison if we reacted on our natural primitive instincts (physical aggression) to the stresses and worries of our everyday lives in 2021. Imagine launching a rock at your boss because they demanded that you didn’t turn up late again? 

Feelings:

  • Frustration
  • Fury/ Rage
  • Annoyed 
  • Stressed
  • Invalidated 

Thoughts:

  • I have to sort this out/ confront the issue.
  • This is unacceptable/unprofessional or unfair.
  • They have disappointed me again.
  • They should be punished.
  • I look like an idiot. 
  • Everything has been ruined.

Behaviours:

  • Pacing around
  • Swearing
  • Arguing 
  • Being physically aggressive to objects or people
  • Leaving a situation prematurely
  • Shouting 
  • Having a “short fuse” or being easily annoyed.

Does any of this ring a bell? If so then don’t worry, they are common symptoms for those of us who have experienced anger as an extreme emotion. 

Why do we suffer from anger as an extreme emotion?

Anger arises out of fear. Most of the time, that is due to not having an awareness of appropriately blocking a series of patterns that can stem from unhelpful or unwarranted negative thoughts. Through applying effective techniques and strategies to our way of thinking, we can actually start to take back some of the control that we lose when the vicious cycle of unhelpful thoughts occurs.

Another reason that we suffer from anger as an extreme emotion is that we are not able to harness the skills to communicate our thoughts, feelings and needs to others in a helpful way. Through applying strategies to help us become more of an assertive communicator, we will be able to voice our concerns to others in a more effective way.  

Strategies to managing our anger:

  • Understand what anger is, where it stems from and why we experience it.
  • Identify negative or unhelpful thoughts when they arise.
  • Understand how unhelpful thoughts can trigger patterns of behaviour and feelings that start to spark anger.
  • Practise Controlled Breathing exercises and Progressive Muscle Techniques. Commit to regularly applying them in our day-to-day lives.
  • Actively setting aside time to do the things that we love to help us relax every day. Finding time to switch off in helpful in alleviating exhaustion and gaining self-control back. 
  • Focus on ways to better our communication skills to a more assertive style.
  • Opening up to others for help and support.
  • Ensuring we are taking the necessary steps to look after ourselves both physically and mentally. These include paying close attention how often we exercise, factoring in enough sleep and how we choose to nourish our bodies.
  • Generating routine into our daily lives.

There are so many ways in which we can manage those feelings of stress and anger. There are a wealth of strategies that can help us grow into calmer and more reflective person. These are all available from the specialists at Arkesie, but it is imperative that we allow ourselves time and patience to develop too. There is no magic wand, however, the strategies have been proven to be effective and work if followed closely and are practised on a regular basis. 

 Through regularly integrating affective techniques, reaching out for help and being as open and honest with yourself (as well as to those around you ) you will notice the positive changes that will develop as a result. You have the power to control the outcome of the path ahead of you and those changes are just around the corner. 

Sarah Hicks