December 26, 2022

Why You Get Angry and What You Can Do About It

Why is it that we can get so upset at the people we love over the smallest and most insignificant of things?

Anger can appear irrational, but if you look below the surface, you will find the natural causes of anger. When you discover these causes, you can successfully manage your anger.

What Is Anger?

Anger is a normal emotion that arises when we feel wronged, something gets in the way of our goals, or we perceive a threat to our identity. 

When we manage anger well, it prompts us to make positive changes in our lives and situations. Yet, poorly managed anger is counterproductive and unhealthy. 

When anger is too intense, out of control, misdirected, and overly aggressive, it can lead to poor decisions and unhappy relationships. 

When consumed with anger, we tend to cope worse with stress, have lower self-esteem, be more likely to misuse drugs or alcohol, and judge others unfairly.

While you might feel that you just explode into anger without warning, there are physical warning signs in your body. 

  • Knots in your stomach
  • Clenching your hands or jaw
  • Feeling clammy or flushed
  • Breathing faster
  • Headaches
  • Pacing or needing to walk around
  • “Seeing red”
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Pounding heart
  • Tensing your shoulders
  • Headaches

Situations That Provoke Anger.

Four situations typically provoke anger: frustration, irritation, abuse, and unfairness.

Frustration. Anger is a common reaction when trying to achieve something important, and obstacles get in the way. For example, you apply for a new job you want but do not get a job offer.

Irritation. Daily hassles are annoying and can trigger anger. For example, while trying to work, you keep getting interrupted or leave something at home and must go back to get it.

Abuse. Anger is a normal and expected reaction to verbal, physical, or sexual abuse. For example, someone putting you down, hitting you, or forcing you to do something you do not want to do.

Unfairness. Being mistreated can also trigger anger. For example, being blamed for failing to meet a deadline at work when it was the fault of a co-worker.

What Can I Do About My Anger?

The best way to control your temper depends on you. There’s no quick fix. Every person needs to take time to think about what works for them.

Be aware of your anger warning signs and triggers. While you might feel that you just explode into anger, there are physical warning signs in your body that anger is rising. Once you know how to recognize the warning signs and anticipate triggers, you can be proactive.

Pay attention to what upsets you. When you figure out what triggers angry feelings, you can decide how to manage those triggers. Sometimes they’re avoidable, and other times not. It’s up to you to be prepared with strategies to help you stay in control.

Find healthy ways to express your anger. If you’ve decided that a situation is worth getting angry about and there’s something you can do to improve it, the key is to express your feelings healthily. When communicated respectfully, anger can be a tremendous source of energy and inspiration for change.

Take a second before reacting. The simple trick of “counting to 10” before responding can help you keep your cool.

Take responsibility and learn from your actions. You can decide how you’ll behave in certain situations ahead of time if you find a way to “keep a cool head.”

Think about the consequences of your behavior. How you behave affects those you love and others around you. You can ask someone about how they were affected and remember this for the future. You can also reflect on the consequences of your actions to remind yourself what happens when your anger escalates.

Breathe. Breathing can override your anger/stress response. Note how your breath goes in and out of your chest and focus on a replacement attitude, like compassion or appreciation. After about ten breaths, your heart rate will slow, and you may think more clearly and act more reasonably.

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