Many individuals have different interpretations of this feeling. Some would say that anger is an easily understood and common emotion. Others would identify that anger is confusing, overwhelming and dangerous. Many believe that anger is a feeling that makes us human and that keeps us in control of our lives.
What happens, however, when anger dominates our lives? What happens when our thoughts, behaviors, and belief systems are driven by anger rather than logical thinking and appropriate processing? The result can often lead to maladaptive behaviors and the loss of control over our lives and ourselves.
Anger can be defined as a normal human process. When we break anger down, we understand that its origins are primitive and rooted in survival. Anger is a response to a perceived threat, and its purpose is to help us fight or defend ourselves when we are in danger. However, anger can be triggered in our daily lives, oftentimes, by misperceived threats. Is encountering a bear in the woods the same threat as being questioned by your spouse about your clothes on the floor or leaving the toilet seat up? It depends on who you ask. The threat is obviously greater with the bear, but the same anger response can be elicited.
Anger is a very powerful emotion and often it’s easier in the moment for us to allow the anger to overhaul our responses rather than trying to manage it. It provides us a perceived short term gain, but in reality causes a long term problem. For example, if you respond to your spouse aggressively about the toilet seat they may back off in the moment, however, it will obviously cause long term disconnect in the relationship.
One of the most important things to remember about anger is that it is a secondary emotion. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel angry. We always feel something first even if we don’t notice it. We might feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, controlled, trapped, interrogated, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we feel anger. An important point to remember about secondary feelings is that they do not identify the unmet emotional need. When we say “I feel angry” neither you nor any one else knows what would help you feel better. Therefore, it is important to identify the primary emotion and need that caused the anger.
Research suggests that inappropriately expressing your anger can be harmful to your health. These health consequences include: heart attacks, hardening of the arteries, stroke, hypertension, high blood pressure, heart rate changes, reduced immune system functioning, lower metabolism, muscle and respiratory problems.
Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Consider seeking help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, hurts those around you, or causes you to do things you regret.
Long Island Anger Management Inc. can help you: identify triggers of anger, communicate more effectively, manage your stress better, and gain a better understanding of yourself and others.