What is anger?
Anger is an emotion which includes your state of mind as well as the physiological reactions of your body such as increased adrenaline, heart rate and blood pressure. This is our fight or flight response to something we perceive as harmful or threatening. Just like a tiger may bare it’s teeth and growl, angry energy causes similar reactions in people such as changes in our body posture or tone of voice. We cannot exist without experiencing anger on some level. It is and has been essential to survival for millions of years.
When anger reaches the intensity of 5 of 10 and higher (10 being most intense anger) it highjacks our rational brain and we no longer think clearly or have the same checks and inhibitions. That’s a lot of angry energy percolating – in need of strategies to best funnel and utilize it.
Why do we get angry?
Anger is sometimes a reaction to frustration, threats, criticism, unfairness or more often than not it is a sometimes instantaneous secondary reaction to more vulnerable feelings such as loneliness, hurt, or fear.
Other causes could be:
- Being bullied or being taken advantage of
- Disappointment or failure
- Injustice or unfairness
When does anger become a problem?
- If it causes problems in any area or your life, especially your relationships with others.
- If you can’t control it and experience an anger – shame cycle. Meaning you get angry and behave in ways that cause you to feel deep shame afterwards.
- If you are violent or abusive
- When it’s out of control and destructive
- Trouble with the law
- Breaking things
- Threatening others
- Frequently fighting with others
Healthy ways to control and channel the angry energy
- Talk about your feelings to friends, family, an anger management counsellor or therapist.
- Learn from an anger management counsellor how to understand and communicate your feelings in healthy, tactful and assertive ways as opposed to being passive, aggressive or passive-aggressive.
- Write out your feelings. Write out all the angry thoughts and feelings without censoring. Write exactly what you would like to say if you were to tell someone off for example.
- Use physical activity to channel the angry energy.
- Use the angry energy as fuel to propel you towards a goal. For example, if you feel angry that someone didn’t believe you could do something use the anger to show them you can do it.
- Try to explore what is driving the angry energy. Is it hurt or fear? Make sense of why you feel that way.
- Mindfulness and meditation is helpful for some.
- Self-care – do things to take care of yourself and make yourself happy.
- Learn your triggers.