‘Anger Management Part 1’ by Ruane J. Lipke published in Great Health Guide (Jan 2017). Anger is a natural emotion, however, learning how to deal with your anger is imperative. Try and understand the root of your anger to help yourself deal with anger effectively.
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MINDSET: Anger Management Part 1
written by Ruane J. Lipke
Everyone feels angry at some point because it is a natural human emotion. However, dealing with it is not always easy. If it is managed properly it may not develop into a problem. In the first instance, it is valuable to work out WHY we get angry. It is important to get to know ourselves in order to identify our own warning signs. Unfortunately, anger can persist over a long period of time and is often expressed in harmful ways. This negative behaviour can lead to many different problems. These problems are most common in relationships at home and at work and can affect the overall quality of your life.
WHAT IS ANGER?
Anger is an emotion that can range from mild annoyance to intense rage. Experts describe the emotion as primary – a way of protecting yourself and surviving challenges. It can be a response to a threat, real or perceived. It is a feeling that is accompanied by biological changes in your body. When you get angry, some people feel their blood pressure rise which increases heart rate. Some people find their thoughts racing and they yell. Some people clench their fists and jaw and their breathing changes. Overall your heart rate and blood pressure rise and stress hormones are released. This can cause you to tremble,become hot and sweaty and feel out of control. Angry behaviours include yelling, throwing things, criticising, ignoring, storming out, sometimes withdrawing and doing nothing.
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Mild anger may occur when a person feels tired, stressed or irritated. These feelings may occur when our basic needs are not being met. i.e. lack of food and sleep etc. We may also become angry when others express opinions, ideas, beliefs we do not agree with. In extreme cases, anger can lead to violence if not properly controlled. Some people use anger as an excuse for being abusive towards others. Violence and abusive behaviour creates fear in others. It could be seen as one person trying to gain power and control over another person.
WHY DO WE GET ANGRY?
Anger is usually linked with other negative emotions or is a response to them. You may be feelinghurt,disrespected,devalued,frightened, disappointed, worried, embarrassed, etc. We also tend to become angry when reacting to frustration, criticism or threats. It is emotionally safer for a person to express these feelings as anger – that way you believe they do not appear to be vulnerable. Instead of helping someone to feel less vulnerable or safer it can serve to increase the hostility.
Anger can also result from misunderstandings or poor communication between people. Frustration which leads to anger is often associated with things that don’t always happen the way we want and people don’t always behave the way we think they should. Being unreasonable or irrational can lead others to feel threatened or resentful. These can be seen as barriers to communication.
HOW IS ANGER EXPRESSED?
Anger can be expressed in many different ways. The same situation may affect people differently and it can manifest in a variety of ways. The most common signs include both verbal and non-verbal. Non-verbal cues present in the tone of voice, body language such as aggressive stance, frowning, clenching fists. Verbal cues are raising your voice, shouting, swearing, and even striking.
Men and women often, but not always, manage and express anger in different ways. Women may not show their anger and hide it behind tears or sarcastic remarks. On the other hand, men may respond to feelings of anger in a more overt way, as a primary emotion. They may believe that anger manifested as aggression, is a legitimate way to express their disapproval in a situation. Often men find it harder to express the feelings underneath the anger, like hurt, sadness or grief.
WHEN IS ANGER A PROBLEM?
Anger becomes a problem when it disrupts your life in some way. It usually causes discord with other people and could be at home, at work, daily living, even getting into trouble with the law. When your main mode of communication is through Anger it causes people around you to feel they cannot be honest with you. They can feel they cannot talk to you or disagree with you or they feel afraid that you may attack them in some way.
Some signs that anger is a problem are outlined here:
Anger involves verbal, emotional, physical or psychological abuse.
People you deal with feel they have to act cautiously around you.
Anger can lead to problems with both personal and workplace relationships.
You think you have to get angry to get what you want.
Anger seems to get bigger than the event that set it off.
Anger lasts for a long time, well after the triggering event has passed.
You are becoming anxious or depressed about your anger.
You are using alcohol or other drugs to try to manage your anger.
You are getting angry with the people who are closest to you.