Each and every one of us has felt anger at some stage in our lives. Anger can be described as an emotional response to a set of circumstances. Anger in itself is not a problem; it is the mismanagement of anger that creates the problems. Anger is a normal emotion, one that we are born with and we need this emotion to help us in life. Anger is like an alarm bell going off to signal to us that there is something not quite right. So learning how to deal with our anger is important.
People have learnt different ways of expressing anger. It may be expressed as rage, verbal abuse, or physically striking out at others and things. It can be quick, loud and violent, or it can be slow and seething. Some people swallow their anger, sit on it and let it smoulder. Anger can pierce deep into the heart and may lead to problems when it happens too often, lasts a long time, gets out-of-control and is destructive. It hurts you and other people and can literally destroy relationships. The aftermath of an angry outburst can be a painful time creating shame, guilt and isolation.
Understanding anger and learning to reduce it will help to improve our quality of life. Anger involves a chain of events when one thing leads to another. Understanding this chain of events can help to stop or diffuse anger. Anger is experienced as a combination of hostile thoughts, a surge of bodily sensations, and an attack or desire to cause harm – verbal, physical, emotional or mental. It is an emotional response to a situation or a set of circumstance.
The Chain of Anger
The 1st happening is events or situations that occur in every day daily life! Events or situations are occurring all the time and there are times when these events could ignite anger. If our anger has been ignited by and event or a situation we have experienced what I am going to call a trigger. Triggers are those situations that “push” our buttons.
The 2nd thing that happens in the chain of anger is how we think, how we perceive, interpret or give meaning to a situation or event. The situation could be perceived as threat, misdeed or failed expectation. We evaluate the situation with our selves in mind and we assign cause or blame. We think that the other person was bad and wrong to have harmed us, and should have acted differently. We may THINK or tell ourselves that someone is purposely making life miserable for us. Resentment precedes most anger problems and is triggered by an event that is perceived as unfair: we think we give more than we get or hardly anything works the way we think it should. Our thoughts are automatic so these interpretations can happen in a split second. Sometimes we “stew” about them as they play in our heads over and over again.
The 3rd thing that occurs in the chain of anger is our feelings. We may feel manipulated or unappreciated. We may feel that something is blocked, forced, or not expected. Or we may feel threatened, attacked, overwhelmed, or abandoned.
Physiological and Biological changes:
The heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, coronary arteries narrow, blood becomes thick and sticky, muscles tense, the body is agitated. The mouth is dry, we breathe faster, the face gets red and energy from our feelings and body build up.
The 4th link in the chain of anger is behaviour and action. The energy in the body is released with some kind of outward behaviour. Physical reaction is the most familiar expression of anger. The natural, instinctive way to show anger is to respond aggressively. Examples of responses are: verbal assault or shouting and yelling, gesture of the hands, clinched jaw, hitting or standing ready to defend or over power, and many more destructive ways. Some people plan and act on revenge. Other people keep the energy in and „stew‟ with anger. They withdraw, pout and stop talking or relating to people. Some people release the energy by crying.
The 5th link in the chain is the result of anger. Anger may help to defend ourselves to survive, it can also hurt us, the people we love, and other people. Anger may involve verbal and physical injury, property destruction, job loss and trouble with the legal and justice system.
Diffusing the feelings of anger
Anger can work fast, so as soon as you feel the surge of anger it is important to recognize it and stay calm. Take a deep breath and let it out slowly: In through your nose, and out through your mouth.
• Count slowly to 10, count to 20 or 100 if you need more time.
• Find a way to distance yourself from the situation.
• Excuse yourself, pull on the side of the road, go to another room, sit down, or take a walk.
• Think of something funny.
• Tell yourself to “cool it!!”
• Talk yourself down – “It‟s not worth it to get angry.”
• Tell yourself “I am not going to let him or her get to me.”
• Call a friend and tell him/her what happened
• Think that the glass is half filled, rather than half empty
I hope that this article has been of some benefit to you. If you are one of the millions of people who have an anger problem just know that it possible to change, it is possible to learn a new way to deal with anger and the benefits of learning to manage your anger are life changing.