25 Jun Anger Management in Daily Life
What is Anger?
Anger is an emotion that is experienced when we notice something to be threatening or dangerous to us. Our reaction to that event, situation or person is the form in which anger is expressed. Anger can also result in full fledged ‘aggression’, where an individual may behave in a manner to harm another person, or to defend oneself from a threatening situation by using an aggressive stance. Irrespective of how it is understood, anger is a valid emotion that most people feel on various instances. It is not necessary that everyone expresses anger in the same way, like violence for instance. Also, due to the negative idea of the emotion, anger has found new forms of emerging, through much more subtle means like, demeaning someone, passing rude comments, as compared to traditional forms of exhibiting anger like physical violence or serial offences.
- What happens to us when we are angry?
Firstly, anger is not a pleasant emotion to deal with. It causes not just an emotional upturn but also a bodily reaction. It increases the rush of adrenaline (also called epinephrine) in the body which results in the heart beating much faster along with faster breathing, sweating, and tenseness in the body among other reactions. Adrenaline is a hormone in the body that is released when we perceive something to be threatening, it activates out body’s sympathetic nervous system which helps us confront the situation by preparing the body. Secondly, any kind of stress that results in these biological reactions lasts ten times longer than usual and therefore it is essential that the body is brought back to normalcy. For that to happen, one needs to tackle the cause of the anger or stress reaction.
In addition to a bodily response, we may also indulge in an emotional response called ‘catharsis.’ It simply means releasing the aggressive or anger provoking urges through certain actions. We have all heard of the advice of ‘venting out the anger’ or ‘expressing’ it in less harmful ways; however, research shows that it does not help in the long run. Temporarily calming the anger by venting it or through catharsis is not promising to end the negative feelings it causes. Anger from one situation can easily be carried on to other situations and domains of life for instance, when a parent scolds the child, the child cannot aggress against the authority figure so he or she may find a more gullible or soft target to release that anger. A quote by Buddha reads, “Anger will never disappear so long as the thought of resentment are cherished in the mind.” Anger outbursts either physically or verbally can be regretted later and therefore, finding healthier ways of catharsis is vital in order to manage anger effectively.
- What are some potential reasons that lead to anger?
Anger like any other emotion is experienced through the course of one’s life, however, the intensity and duration could differ across situations, people or anything that causes it. Various theories suggest the causes of anger to be diverse. Some suggest that anger is caused by to external events and it leads to feelings of frustration, anxiety, or unpleasant emotions, which further lead to a drive to harm others in order to release that unpleasantness. Other studies suggest that aggression can be learnt from watching others, imitating them, or having a direct experience of their angry behaviour, for instance in violent video games through observations, or in abusive households through experience. Additionally, situations, people, and emotional states of individuals could all interact to result in anger for example, a person is having difficulty at work, along a tendency to be short tempered; in such a case the situation and personality of an individual are contributing to the possibility of anger to arouse him/her. However, the way in which the individual deals with the situation is what will differentiate the anger from anger management.
Some other causes for aggression are as follows:
- Provocation: actions from others that anger the person who is the receiver of those actions that trigger anger.
- Teasing: this is a subtle yet relevant form of violence that is carried out towards others flaws or imperfections.
- Rejection: being rejected may be interpreted in a risk to one’s esteem, and could result in severe forms of aggression.
- Media violence: increased amounts of screen time with violence as a primary component for drama and popularity have made it a contributing factor to anger. Cyber bullying is another media related act towards others in the shadow of aggression.
- Preserving one’s honour or status: many violent acts are also due to protecting one’s social and cultural dominance.
- Histories of abusive childhood or households: such categories can either make people model the aggression from their past or lead to a drop in their self esteem. Bullying is a by product of these situations.
- Personality: this can sometimes be the cause for deeply rooted issues, even anger. Having a tendency of getting angry could just be part of someone’s personality and could be difficult to control, but not impossible.
- Gender roles: it is a rooted in the fabric of our society, and expects males to express anger more physically and openly than a female’s expression of more internal and controlled forms of aggressing.
- Situation specific: sometimes all it takes to get angry is be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- How can I identify my levels of anger?
Well, anger is experienced differently based on the many things previously mentioned. However; there are ways to know when the anger is disruptive and harmful to oneself and others. Some signs include:
- Feeling anger all the time
- Frequently arguing or fighting with those around
- High irritability; i.e. getting agitated at the slightest of the things
- Directing your anger from the source to another target
- Any form of verbal or physical aggression
- Feeling a sort of tightness due to an inability to express the anger
- Unusual behaviour on one’s part
- Sometimes nausea, anxiety and unpleasant feelings could be an outcome as well
Most of these signs could be identified for oneself, but if it goes unidentified, it would be helpful to ask those around you to inform you about your angry behaviour. In other cases, if you know you’ve had a history of angry acts and people have spoken to you about your anger, it would be a good thing to reach out to someone to solve this concern.
- How can I manage my anger?
It is important to understand why anger management is necessary. Anger that usually diffuses in short periods is still better than when it persists. Anger management is not difficult but takes patience. It involves learning techniques to deal with anger rather than eliminate or completely suppress it. Even though it is not a permanent solution, it is an effective method to deal with the intense emotions that can come up. The first step in managing one’s anger is acknowledging the fact that you are angry and you feel certain disturbing emotions. Secondly, the source of anger must be identified, that is what is causing you to feel angry? Next, spend some time to think clearly before you react to the situation or person. It may be difficult initially, however over time you will be able to do it more calmly. Think about what are better ways of dealing with the anger provoking event; there’s always a better way out!
If you feel like you cannot deal with it in the moment, all you can do is leave the situation until you feel prepared to confront it. Rational communication is always a key to any problem; discussing one’s concerns with the respective people is important. Also, learning creative forms of exhibiting that anger could be fun and directive from the issue, for instance art, learning a skill, writing, or anything that engages you. Lastly, thinking about the same situation in different ways could help you understand why it occurs, what caused the onset and how it could be dealt with.
- Why should I engage in counselling or other services?
Since you have a fair amount of knowledge about varied aspects of anger, along with some tips for anger management, nevertheless it is effective when there is a more short term concern with anger. Even then sometimes you can find it difficult to apply the anger management techniques and use to your advantage. Therefore, counselling can help you in such a time, where you can understand your own deep rooted causes of anger, identify how it feels, learn to think of it in varied ways, and finally help yourself in dealing with it. Counselling is not just individually rendered but also in group settings sometimes. This could help you share you concerns with anger not just to the counsellor but also those who experience the same processes as you.
Sometimes the cost of physically meeting up with a counsellor may seem a bit much, therefore in such cases what could help is online or calling services to convey your problems and get an on the go session at your own comfort. Counselling will help you cope with various situations across life and domains of your life and hence it is an asset for your own mental health. There is nothing to lose and much to gain via counselling for your concerns. Therefore, reach out to these services when you are in need of it, and learn that you are not alone even for a problem like excessive anger.
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