What is Anger?
Anger is a natural human response to being attacked, insulted, deceived or frustrated.
Anger can be useful but can also be a frightening emotion.
When we get angry, our bodies get prepared to either fight or flee the situation. This is known as the "fight or flight" response. In order to be prepared, our bodies can become quite tense and getting angry can release that tension. When we do this, it can be difficult to do so in a helpful and constructive way and can often make things worse rather than better.
Being angry is not the problem - it is how we manage our anger that can become a problem for some.
Physical Signs of Anger
- You may notice your heart beating faster
- Your breathing tends to quicken
- Your body may feel quite tense
- You may start tapping your feet
- You may notice that your fists are clenched
Recognising these feelings can provide you with an opportunity to think about how you might react to the situation. Once you are actually angry, it is more difficult to step back and think logically about the situation. Recognising the feelings in your body that constitute anger is helpful, as although it is not easy to do, once you are aware you can train yourself to pause and compose yourself before expressing your feelings.
When is Anger a Problem?
- When it harms you or the people around you
- When you express it at appropriate times or in unsafe ways
- When it starts to affect your relationships
- When it is not expressed (sometimes in our past something may have made us angry however we have "bottled this up" or suppressed it)
On the last point above, "bottling up or suppressing" our anger can lead to other problems, such as:
- Depression or anxiety
- Sleep problems
- Alcohol or drug addictions
In some cases, it can also cause more long term mental health problems.
Sometimes angry feelings can turn to rage and can lead to more destructive violent behaviours. Expression of our anger through violence and aggression can be very frightening and damaging for the people around you - especially children.
What Triggers You to be Angry?
We all have our own triggers for feeling angry, however, anger can be triggered:
- when you feel misunderstood
- when a situation that you are in seems unjust/unfair
- when you feel threatened/discriminated against
- when you feel powerless
How Can Anger be Managed?
Learn what triggers your anger. To recognise what triggers your anger, think about the last time you became angry. What were the circumstances? Did someone say or do something to make you angry? What did you notice about the sensations in your body? What thoughts were going on in your mind? How did you behave? How did you feel afterwards? What was happening in your body? What thoughts were you having at that time?
A diary can be a useful tool to keep about the times you have felt angry, to help you identify the triggers to your anger and identify the behaviours you demonstrate when you are angry. Recognising these are key to supporting you managing your anger in a healthier manner.
Once you are aware of the triggers, some of the tips below can support you to press the pause button, calm yourself, and enable you to react in a more controlled way.
Other tips to help you to take a step back before reacting angrily:
- Focus on your breathing, feeling your chest rise and fall
- Count to 10, before reacting
- Focus your attention on a creative task
- Listen to music that helps to calm you
- Remove yourself from the situation that is making you angry and make space for yourself to feel calmer
- Consider using some relaxation, mindfulness or meditation techniques
- Learn to be more assertive (Sometimes your anger can get in the way of you communicating what you are angry about. Sometimes people can stop listening to you and only focus on the anger. Being assertive means standing up for yourself, expressing what you are angry about in a responsible manner while still respecting other people and their opinions.)
If you would like to explore how online relationship counselling could help you to achieve stronger, healthier and more fulfilling relationships, including tackling anger management issues, get in touch with me online using the contact form below or call 07877 072741.