Anger is an emotion that involves a strong uncomfortable and hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat.
It is a common human experience. We all encounter it. And we encounter it more often than we like to admit.
Some experts also say that anger is a natural and most automatic response to the pain of one form or another (physical or emotional). Anger can occur when people don’t feel well, feel rejected, feel criticised, feel threatened, or experience some loss.
The type of pain does not matter; the important thing is that the pain experienced is unpleasant. Because anger never occurs in isolation but rather is necessarily preceded by pain feelings, it is often characterised as a “second-hand” emotion.
Anger is the natural emotional response designed to protect us from danger. It is part of our instinctual system for protection and preservation. It triggers the reptilian survival brain. The part of our brain, which deals with our survival and protection.
Anger is a force of energy that we project in order to push away or combat a threat. When anger appears, it is alerting us to when we are not being treated correctly, how we need to approach things differently, or when something in our life is not working. Anger is an awareness tool that provides light on injustice and provides us with the insight to make changes.
However, anger ceases to be a form of protecting your life and become a means of destroying your life and relationships when it is felt too intensely, is felt too frequently, or is expressed inappropriately.
Anger is a universal problem. It is not limited to one age group, culture, race, economic level, social status, educational background, or any other classification.
Unresolved anger is one of the chief contributing factors to the destruction of marriages, the breakdown of families, and the weakening of communities. It is a major cause of health problems and lack of productivity in the workplace, and it is a common denominator among juvenile delinquents.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna regards greed, anger and lust as signs of ignorance and leads to perpetual bondage.
Signs And Symptoms Of Anger
In the initial stages:
- Clenched jaw or fists
- Muscle tension
- Increase in heart rate
- Red/flushed face
- Stomach ache
- Feeling hot in the face or neck
Aggressive Symptoms Of Anger:
- Shouting or yelling – you might hurt them with profanity, name-calling, or insults.
- Threatening – this can range from serious threats to another’s life or safety to more trivial threats, like an angry mother threatening not to take her child to the park because of his behaviour.
- Hostile questioning – are your questions towards someone meant to hurt them or prove they are wrong?
- Urge to cause harm – to oneself or another person. This is where anger gets dangerous and leads to more serious consequences.
Medical research and psychoanalytic theory have long recognised that chronic hostility and anger, whether unrecognized, suppressed, or vented in rage, can be a causative factor in asthma, autoimmune dysfunction, coronary artery disease, cysts, depression, headaches, heart attacks, high blood pressure, insomnia, intestinal disorder, low back pain, sexual dysfunction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, paranoia, and ulcers.
Benefits and Costs of Anger: Social, Emotional, and Health
- Whether justified or unjustified, the seductive feeling of righteousness associated with anger offers a powerful temporary boost to self-esteem.
- It is more satisfying to feel angry than to acknowledge the painful feeling associated with vulnerability.
- You can use anger to convert feelings of vulnerability and helplessness into feelings of control and power.
- Some people develop an unconscious habit of transforming almost all of their vulnerable feelings into anger so they can avoid having to deal with them.
Sadness, anxiety, fear and insecurity are feelings that can make people feel very vulnerable and weak. Many times people display the emotions of anger, which serves as a mask to hide the more vulnerable feelings. Therefore, these feelings could be considered causes of anger.
Common situations which lead us to bitterness:
- The pain of rejection
The pain of rejection is one of the strongest factors in a person’s life, esp. in childhood. A child forms strong attachments to parents, friends, and relatives and finds security in these relationships. When those who are trusted communicate rejection, the child’s secure world collapses and he faces a host of fears. The pain of rejection and the torment of fears can cause the child to develop deep bitterness towards the one who is responsible for his pain, when the parents get divorced, their children typically experience the pain of rejection.
- The reaction to unchangeable features of our lives
One of the greatest challenges facing every young person is that of accepting unchangeable features, such as physical appearance, mental capabilities, birth order, race, brothers and sisters, and parents. When someone mocks or ridicules a child who is already insecure, it is a devastating blow to his self-esteem. Ridicule does not just attack a child’s action – it mocks him as a person. One who experiences ridicule will be extremely sensitive to anyone else who ridicule him or others. The anger he feels is motivated by a desire for the just punishment of anyone who mocks others.
- The grief of favouritism
When parents favour one child over another, they are not only damaging the self-worth of the child who is less appreciated, but they are also encouraging him or her to react toward the one who is favoured. Favouritism to one will be seen as a rejection by the other.
- The anguish of false accusations
A person’ reputation has great worth. A false accusation not only damages the one who is accused, but it also stirs up indignation and desire to see the false accuser brought to justice.
The mixture of guilt and pain that surrounds the memory of these experiences triggers anger when we hear of or face similar situations. Can you recall a past experience that deeply hurt you? How do similar situations cause you to express anger now?
- Frustration and powerlessness
- Verbal or physical attack
- Disruption while pursuing goals
- Financial threats
- Harassment and bullying
- Injustice; real or perceived
- Exhaustion and burnout from stress
- Demands or criticisms that we think are unfair
- Threats to the people, things, or ideas that we hold dear
- Expectation not met
- How you interpret and react to a situation can depend on lots of factors in your life, including:
- Your childhood and upbringing
- You may have grown up thinking that its always okay to act out your anger aggressively or violently
- You may have been brought up to believe that you shouldn’t complain
- You may have witness your parent’s or other adult’s anger when it was out of control
- Past experiences
- Current circumstances
- Your childhood and upbringing
When we become angry, we should identify the past experience and personal failures that are contributed to our current frustration and seek to resolve them. Often, situations that are similar to ones in which we were hurt or in which we failed to do the right thing, will trigger our anger. Usually the stronger the anger, the more pain and guilt there are from the past.
Here are a few conditions that can intensify your anger:
- Overactive Thyroid – also known as hyperthyroidism. It also can increase your restlessness, nervousness and can cause difficulty concentrating.
- High Cholesterol – statins which are widely prescribed for high cholesterol can also lead to someone losing their temper.
- Alzheimer’s Disease – is a form of dementia that affects a variety of brain functions including emotional behaviour and personality. It can lead to outbursts of anger.
- Sleeping pills – such as benzodiazepine, operate by slowing down a variety of brain functions. With the reduction of some brain function, sleeping pills can make an already irritable person even more irritable.
- Premenstrual Syndrome – due to the imbalance of hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, women become more irritable.
- Inflamed Liver – the liver was linked to the emotion of anger since ancient times.
- Diabetes – blood sugar can also increase one’s anger. An imbalance in sugar levels leads to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain such as serotonin. This can lead to aggression, anger, confusion and even panic attacks.
- Wilson ’s disease – while healthy people excrete any copper they don’t need; in Wilson’s disease, the patient can’t. This build-up of copper attacks the brain, damaging brain tissue, including the frontal lode, which is responsible for personality.
- Depression – leads to feelings of worthlessness, shame or guilt, which can give rise to the feelings of anger.
- Autism – is a developmental disorder that affects the brain’s normal growth of social and communication skills. Being swamped with multiple tasks or sensory stimulation can enhance the anger.
Types Of Anger
Different experts have published contradicting lists of anger types, but some widely accepted forms of anger include:
- Chronic anger, which is prolonged, can impact the immune system and be the cause of other mental disorders
- Passive anger, which doesn’t always come across as anger and can be difficult to identify
- Overwhelmed anger, which is caused by life demands that are too much for an individual to cope with
- Self-inflicted anger, which is directed toward the self and may be caused by feelings of guilt
- Judgmental anger, which is directed towards others and may come with feelings of resentment
- Volatile anger, which involves sometimes-spontaneous bouts of excessive or violent anger
- Assertive anger, even as you are standing up for your needs or convictions, you are also thinking of the needs of others. Self-centeredness is out, while a sense of community is in.
It consists of three parts:
- How to avoid becoming angry in the first place
- How to cease being angry and
- How to deal with anger in others
Remember, not all tools work for everybody or all of the time. The following are some helpful tools:
How to avoid becoming angry in the first place
- The first and most important step is to accept yourself, as you are. That will be the foundation you will build your life on for the rest of your life.
- Learn to be thankful for what you have
- Accept the lessons from the past, but have no regrets. The past will never be back. so remember what you learnt and move on
- Stop worrying about others’ perception about you . For Others, you are just a small part of their lives… but your life is yours 100 percent
- Be Nice to yourself. if you are overcritical… life becomes a drag
- Learn from the past, do not dwell there. Nothing can be achieved by brooding over the past
- Remember to communicate. There are never any unique problems. There is a merit to seeking ideas and feedback from people who care for you
- Effective stress reduction and stress management
- Physical Exercise
- Increasing life mastery and satisfaction
- Building on one’s strengths to address life challenges
- Realistic expectations of ourselves and others
- Emotional and psychological healing
- Not personalizing situations and adopting a problem-solving stance instead
The solution for your anger is to divert the energy in a direction that is so inspiring that the anger is no more a priority for you.
How to cease being angry
- Step 1 – Acknowledge that you feel hurt
This is not as easy as it sounds.
when you get angry, you either don’t allow yourself to feel your inner vulnerability and hurt because at that moment all you can think about is your desire to get revenge, to defend your pride, to do something – anything – to create the feeling that you have power and importance to hide your inner feelings of vulnerability.
Or suppress the awareness of your honest inner experience because to don’t want to lose that person’s love. When it happens often, it becomes unconscious anger, which ultimately makes you feel depressed. Depression, after all, is often “anger turned inwards”.
- Step 2 – follow the hurt back into its roots in the past to all those times and circumstances when you felt the same way.
You need to do this because any insult/hurt in the present is magnified by similar insults from the past. Failure to recognize old insults only makes the current insult seem far larger than it really is.
This digging is a psychological task of realizing how this one insult pierces deep into your self-esteem, and the way unconscious resentment about all sorts of old emotional injuries from the past continues to poison you even in the present.
- Step 3 – avoid the popular response to feelings of hurt and insult.
It could be the intellectual frustration of knowing that others are missing the point. It could be the social irritation of having to tolerate rude behaviour. It could be the humiliating insult of not having our expectations fulfilled. It could be the traumatic insult of childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. But insult it is, and we feel the urge to pick up weapons—whether physical (i.e., guns and bombs) or verbal (i.e., sarcasm and curses)—and turn them on others.
Or, in our deepest hurt and frustration, we will turn those weapons on ourselves as a form of masochistic self-sabotage. This self-sabotage brings with it the unconscious satisfaction of inflicting guilt on those around us—that is, we secretly hope that our self-inflicted suffering will “say” to others, “Look what you made me do to myself!” In this case, our frustrations can stay within us as silent guilt-inducing fantasies lurking behind our social injuries.
Therefore, regardless of whether it’s expressed as overt social aggression or silent self-sabotage, the “popular” response to insult is revenge. Thus all anger is, at its core, a dark and cruel wish for harm to come upon the person who hurt you.
- Step 4 -Forgiveness.
To forgive someone means that you consciously make the decision to set aside any desire to see a person hurt because of the hurt he or she caused you, and instead you wish that the person will recognise his or her hurtful behaviour, feel sorrow for it, and learn to be a more considerate person.
So beware. There is no escaping the psychological effects of injury and anger; either you can face up to all of your unconscious anger and learn real forgiveness, or you can let the deadly poison of revenge become your ugly destiny.
Once you notice that you feel hurt, however, you have a choice. You don’t have to accept blindly the unconscious slide into revenge.
- The key to all this, however, is that you speak up as soon as you feel the first inkling of injury—before the hurt turns to anger and has a chance to build into anything destructive. Just communicate what you’re feeling in the moment.
- And when you do that, remember: You cannot control the behavior of others.
- Therefore, resist saying things such as, “What’s wrong with you?” or “How could you be so insensitive?” or “You shouldn’t do that!” So, when you feel the urge to say something, ask yourself what you want to happen as a result.
- If your answer is anything like, “I want her to . . .” then you probably have the wrong motive.
- But if your answer is more like, “I just want to clear my conscience. What she does there after is up to her,” then you are probably on the right track.
So, as I say above, recognize the feeling of anger, yet don’t act on it. Instead, do the following –
- Cool down. Remember the old, stereotypical advice about counting to ten before saying or doing anything when you first feel hurt? Well, it’s still good advice. That’s because the first reaction to hurt is purely physiological: you receive a rush of adrenaline to prepare you to take action in real danger.
- If you’re prone to violence, then walk away from the provocation as soon as you feel the pressure building.
- In most cases, simply taking a few moments to practice some simple relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing, can allow your sympathetic nervous system’s arousal to calm down and dissipate by itself.
- Ask yourself what you’re really feeling. Many persons have such a limited knowledge of their emotional life that they tend to lump everything together into anger. If you look closely, though, you might find that behind the anger are more pertinent feelings, such as disappointment, sadness, fear, and so on.
- Challenge your negative thoughts. The way we think has a lot to do with the way we feel, so changing your thoughts from a hateful, negative orientation to a calm, positive orientation becomes essential in managing feelings of hurt and insult.
- Look at things from the other person’s perspective.
- Avoid accusatory questions (“So, you’re late again! You’re seeing someone else, aren’t you?”). Ask open-ended questions that can’t be brushed off with a simple Yes or No, and let them be non-judgemental questions that bring out true emotions. Here are a few examples:
“What’s bothering you?”
“What do you need?”
“What are you disappointed about?”
“What are you worried about?”
“What do you want?”
“How can I help?”
How to deal with anger in others
Many persons do not like to hear the “truth” about themselves, and they will often try to defend themselves by going on the attack. They might accuse you of being judgmental
So, despite the opposition, keep in mind that it’s not judgemental to state the facts in such a way that you do not tell the other person what you want him to do. When you speak up, do so for the sake of your conscience, because you believe something is not right; what the other person does with the information is up to him.
A lot of anger, therefore, can come back at you for being blunt and honest, and you might feel the urge to back down.
So, if you resist the pull to shrink back, then you will find freedom. You will discover a part of yourself that you can trust to guide you through disputes without injuring yourself or others—because you will be motivated not with unconscious anger and revenge to defend your identity but with love for the good of others.
So there you have it. Someone insults you, you feel the pain, you speak up if necessary, and you forgive. Still, after all this, you might be feeling some lingering emotional arousal. What do you do? Just feel the emotions and let them pass away, on their own. Do not act on them.
A healthy response to insult and irritation really does require you to feel the pain that others cause you. Feel the pain for the sake of emotional honesty. Feel the pain for the sake of your sanity. Be careful not to deny the facts about what has happened. But also be careful not to point your finger at others in blame
Take professional help
When you experience disproportionate anger, it may be too difficult to resolve the issues alone, or even with the help of loved ones. See a qualified mental health practitioner or therapist/counsellor
If an underlying health condition is causing your passive-aggressive behaviour, then that condition will be treated first. Your behaviours should improve with treatment.
Homoeopathy – in the treatment, the cause is first found out. Homoeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using a holistic approach.
Psycho-social Treatment –
- Hypnotherapy and many other psychotherapies help you learn that there are very specific environmental triggers for your feelings. Recognise the triggers, first, and then recognise the emotional “bridge” that goes back to childhood wounds. They help you to learn to look for the actual events (notice the plural) that have been bothering you recently. Take each one separately. What are all your feelings about that event? Frustration? Helplessness? Abandonment? Betrayal? Fear? (It won’t be just anger, because anger is the final, hostile reaction to all the other feelings.)
When you have these emotions all separated out, then you have an idea of what is really happening to you, apart from the anger. Then you can deal with each event separately, according to the emotions specific to that event. And it’s your choice. Do something constructive and creative about each problem individually, or, well, get angry about everything and stew in it.
- A qualified mental health therapist or counsellor who is clinically certified so that they can help you work through your feelings and re-frame your thoughts about an incident.
- A therapist may also work with a family member to help resolve issues of guilt and anger that can at times affect the entire family.