We ALL Experience Anger! Right?
Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems—problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This page is meant to help you understand and control anger.
Questions to Ask
These and other similar questions may indicate that you would benefit from talking with an outsider.
- Am I too angry?
- Do I seem to struggle with letting go of anger?
- Have others expressed concern about how angry I am?
- Does my anger seem to get in the way of my thinking and decisions?
- Does anger result in me feeling physically sick?
The Nature of Anger
Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal forces. 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.
The instinctive way to want to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to perceived threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight or flight. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at many people or objects that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms/expectations, rules and such.
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you stuff your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed eventual healthy outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, depression, or eventual explosion.
Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.
Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
Clay County Behavioral Health is an option available to you to help in reducing or managing your anger.