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Anger: A Complex Emotion

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.” -Confucius

Anger is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences. At times everyone feels annoyed, frustrated, irritated or angry. Anger can be expressed by shouting, swearing, or sometimes throwing and smashing things. It can become physical towards other people or ourselves. Some people may withdraw when they become angry and ruminate in silent anger.

Some anger can be helpful if it’s controlled, by motivating us to make positive changes or to take positive action toward things we feel are significant. However, when anger is very extreme or very frequent, it can be very harmful. Anger usually stems from some type of frustration: either things did not turn out the way you planned, you did not get something you wanted, or other people’s behavior negatively impacts you. Poor communication and misunderstandings can also trigger angry situations.

At times people find it difficult to communicate feelings such as sadness, shame, fear, hurt or guilt. These feelings, instead, are expressed as anger. Anger can be triggered by anything, such as being stuck in traffic, being treated rudely, or pinching your finger in a door. Sometimes there are no obvious triggers to anger. Some people are just more prone to anger than others.

There are many problems associated with anger, including physical side effects. Anger may also contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. Anger may cause conflict with family and friends. Anger, if not dealt with, may also cause feelings of guilt or disappointment, which can lead to low self-esteem and depression.

Coping Strategies

One of the first steps to manage your anger is to be aware or recognize what types of situations trigger your anger. Take a few moments to make of list of what situations your see yourself in that escalate to anger, such as:

  • Being stuck in traffic and running late for work
  • Your children not listening
  • Financial disagreements with your spouse or partner
  • No help from your spouse or partner in household chores

While being stuck in traffic may be beyond your control, running late for work is something more controllable if you plan ahead. For the uncontrollable triggers, you can control how your response will be. Once you complete your list of what triggers your anger; make a separate list of the warning signs for your anger. Be aware of what is going on in your body, which may help you to start using coping skills before your anger becomes uncontrollable.

Some common warning signs are:

  • Racing Heart 
  • Stuttering
  • Sweating
  • Tense muscles or clenched fist

If you notice any of these warning signs, stop and ask yourself what is triggering your anger. If you continue feeling out of control, take a time out; which means to remove yourself from the situation. If you can’t remove yourself from the situation, then use distractions such as counting from 1 to 10, or listening to music. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation may also be helpful in reducing anger. These are just a few examples of coping strategies you can use.

Have you ever asked yourself, do I have a problem with anger? Then consider the following questions:

  • Do you feel angry or tense often?
  • Do you get angry more easily and more often than others?
  • Do you use alcohol or drugs to manage your anger?
  • Do you break things or become violent when you are angry?
  • Have others stated that you need anger management?
  • Is your anger causing problems with your relationships?
  • Have you had problems with the law due to your anger?
  • Do you worry about your anger often, which leads to anxiety or depression?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions and would like to learn new coping strategies, we can help. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors. 

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