Your Anger is on Hold and Would Like to Speak to You

BY Tim Londergan
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To begin, it’s normal and even healthy to feel anger from time to time. Anger can range from mild annoyance to profound rage. Indeed, anger comes from a variety of sources and may pop up when you are having an otherwise wonderful day. Furthermore, anger problems may be caused by early trauma or events in a person’s life that shaped their personality. In some cases, hormonal imbalance or mental disorders may be the trigger. However, your anger, when left unchecked, can be problematic for your professional and personal relationships and the quality of your life.

Understanding your anger

According to the American Psychological Association, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. Heart rate and blood pressure rise, as do hormone levels. Likewise, aggressive behavior instinctively accompanies anger, often in a defensive posture necessary to our survival. Anger can take on different forms. Some people feel angry much of the time or can’t dispel the event that triggered their fury. Similarly, others are slow to anger, but when they do, there is an explosive bout of rage. Understanding your anger and its various manifestations is key to maintaining your physical health and emotional well-being.

Why is everyone so angry?

Scenes of bad behavior have seeped into our consciousness over the past several years. Sadly, service workers have borne the brunt of these attacks as rude customers took offense to their efforts to enforce COVID-​related rules. Similarly, people are fearful of changes to the economy and the political landscape. Certainly, stress is a common cause of anger, as well as not feeling appreciated or treated fairly. According to an article from WBUR​.org, “exhaustion from being stuck in a suspended state of anxiety” attributes to this continuous pattern of rage. Hopefully, your anger will be different or immune from the causes listed above. However, it’s still there until provoked, and you need to know how to control it.

Use your anger as a positive force

While a temper tantrum may feel liberating, that untamed rage can hijack our executive functions, says Molly Colvin, PhD and neuropsychologist. She advises us to first recognize and accept the presence of anger and find healthy ways to release it. Finding the middle ground spurs our best thinking and helps to release the tension created by polarization.

Strategies to keep anger at bay

The American Psychological Association offers a list of techniques to keep your anger from getting the best of you. Here are just a few:

  • Check yourself – learn the warning signs of when you start to get annoyed. When you recognize them, step away from the situation and exercise relaxation techniques.
  • Don’t dwell on the offending incident – Reframe the event by focusing on the positive aspects of the person or situation that triggered the emotions.
  • Change your thought pattern – Replace unproductive, negative thoughts with more reasonable ones. This is a technique known as cognitive restructuring.
  • Avoid anger triggers – Give thought to what makes you mad and adjust your route or schedule to sidestep the confrontation.

Psychologists can help

Professional psychologists can help people recognize and avoid the triggers that make them angry. If your family members, friends or coworkers have distanced from you due to anger, you may have a problem. According to apa​.org, 75% of people receiving anger management therapy improved as a result. Importantly, anger often accompanies other issues such as post-​traumatic stress disorder, depression or alcohol or drug problems. Family therapy, group therapy and psychodynamic therapy are effective means for people to understand the root of their emotional distress.

Photo by Andre Hunter on Unsplash