What is Anger?
Feeling angry, upset and irritable is a normal part of life. Most of the time it’s in response to something that we perceive as wrong or unfair. In its mildest form, we may feel annoyed at someone or a situation, such as when we’re stuck in traffic. In a stronger form, we may feel rage at an injustice done to us or a loved one.
However, normal anger is usually something that we’re able to resolve; whether that means looking at a situation differently to change our perspective, or giving ourselves space and time from an upsetting situation before re-approaching the issue. But sometimes anger can be a destructive emotion that negatively impacts our ability to communicate, our relationships, our jobs, and our health.
Different Forms of Anger
There are three general types of anger that can negatively impact our lives. These include:
- Outward Anger (otherwise known as explosive anger): Often comes in the form of yelling and screaming at others. It is when you often feel out of control of your emotions and often say things that are hurtful and that you regret later. At the explosive stage of anger, behaviours may include yelling, punching a wall, hitting, kicking or throwing things.
- Inward Anger: Often a less volatile form of anger and can often go unnoticed. Inward anger is when the emotion is turned inward. Instead of blaming others (as we do in outward/explosive anger) we blame ourselves and often experience anger towards ourselves. By monitoring our self-talk, we’re able to note the negative things we think and say about ourselves.
- Passive Aggressiveness (otherwise known as sneaky anger): Can be extremely destructive in relationships as it is often difficult for others to pinpoint your intentions during conversation. Passive aggressiveness often has us doing something to “get back” at someone else through anger, such as ignoring another person, accidentally burning their supper, “forgetting” to pick up the coffee that was requested.
Signs that Anger is a Problem
Here are some common signs that your anger is outside of the normal range of everyday emotions:
- Frequent anger
- Loss of enjoyment of previous interests and activities
- Caused by something that happened in the distant past
- Stronger than is warranted based on the situation
- Creating issues in your relationships with others
- Impairing your ability to communicate effectively
- Interfering with your ability to do your job
- Affects your physical health
- Loss of control; angry outbursts
- Noticed by others
Anger Management Options
There are options for resolving issues with anger. Some of the activities may include:
Separate emotion from behaviour: Learn to identify anger the emotion (normal, healthy) versus anger the behaviour (yelling, shouting, hitting).
Identify your emotional triggers: The more you can recognize the scenarios that are most likely to trigger an anger response, the easier it becomes to predict the behaviour and start to do something about it.
Learn your personal anger symptoms: When we experience anger there is often a change in our breathing patterns, our muscles may tense up, and there may be a pit in our stomach. Create your own personal symptom chart. The more you can understand your symptoms, the easier it is for you to control them.
Don’t let anger take a hold on your life. An Encompas care manager can help you find a mental health professional trained to help you stop the cycle of anger, resolve angry behaviours, learn new coping strategies, and return to enjoying your life.
Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016). Feeling Angry.
Retrieved from http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/feeling-angry/#.V1MPVJErLIU