Anger is a natural feeling that happens when a person feels under threat. It could be a real situation where a person feels physically endangered or a perceived idea that the person is loosing control or loosing out. The amygdala is that part of our emotional brain that react instinctively when we feel threatened in any way. We will either fight, flee or freeze in such a situation. Fight response can some times express itself in anger emotions.
Anger and aggression are not the same
Anger is an emotion while aggression is a behavior that results from the feeling of anger. A person can be angry yet find healthy methods to express the anger without the use of threat or violence.
Aggression is learned and can be unlearned
There are no angry genes that a person inherits. Often angry behavior is learned from watching others get what they want by using aggression. We get angry because of the way we interpret the actions and words of other people. Often this is cause by cognitive distortions. Hence, we can learn better more positive ways of understanding other people’s actions and words.
Venting out anger is not always good.
Suppressing anger is not healthy but venting anger out in an unhealthy way is even worse. For example, punching something when we are angry can help you to feel good at the moment. But what happens inside your brain is that, now you associate punching with feeling good. Hence, in future, when anger arises, you will automatically punch whatever is there just to feel good.
Is anger really bad?
However, in some circumstances, anger can be harmful and can cause unwanted consequences. When this happens it:
- Negatively affects other people and strains our relationships
- Hinders our performance in school and at work
- Affects our health and well-being, contributing to high blood pressure and heart problems
- Cause us to loose control of our actions when it becomes too intense and unbridled.
By recognising the different stages of anger, we can do something to prevent it from going out of control.
Here are some things you can do when you feel anger rising
(1) Be mindful of what makes you angry
(2) Divert your attention away from what makes you angry
(3) Do deep breathing exercises
(4) Keep a journal of your anger episodes
Be mindful and concious of the triggers for your anger and be careful to avoid getting into those situations that can tick you off. If such situations are unavoidable, stop whatever you are doing, take deep breaths and count to ten while you remove yourself from that situation.
(5) Talk to a professional about your anger
Here is where you can get help
If your anger is causing you to have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming someone else, please get help immediately:
If you need to manage angry people, this may help.