Anger is an emotion, just that. It’s a normal feeling with benefits as well as drawbacks. While it can be quite complex, managing anger is a skill which can be learned.
We all feel angry at times. As an emotion it can range from a mild feeling of irritability to a full-blown outburst.
Anger can cause us to become irritable, impatient, and perhaps behave aggressively. But if we bottle it up or experience it silently, it can cause other emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.
A combination of four main factors can contribute to an anger experience.
1. External events or “Triggers”
A trigger is something that creates an emotional reaction. The feeling of frustration when you can’t get something done for example. Also things like getting annoyed at something or a perceived injustice or unfairness.
2. Thoughts and perceptions
Thoughts about past events can make us angry again. This may then cause us to become sensitive to situations. It may not really be the event itself that angers us but the significance it has for us.
We can also have strong expectations of how things “ought to be” or engage in negative self-talk and over-think things.
3. Arousal and activation
Physically we can feel different when angry. Blood pressure can rise, we may feel hot, have a faster heart-beat or breathing and muscles can tense. These symptoms can be scary and overwhelming.
Anger arousal can be a product of too much tension. It’s always useful to take time out, maybe remove yourself from the situation, let yourself settle to help you think more clearly.
Work or study that involves deadlines, pressure and demands for productivity may be risk areas for anger.
Pressures can lead to feelings of impatience and irritability, or our behaviour may become aggressive.This response is an attempt to overcome a sense of powerlessness or frustration.
Find out more about communication styles and how they affect us.
Learning to understand the source of anger and how to express it constructively can be hugely beneficial.
In situations where anger is unproductive, anger management is a step towards wellbeing.
Having awareness, acknowledging and regulating our feelings helps us to defuse anger reactions. It can limit the hurt we may cause ourselves and others.
Thinking about how anger issues are managed when growing up can help to make us aware of causes, behaviours and patterns. This can help with understanding and learning new ways of dealing with emotions and situations in the present.