Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage”.
Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (eg, a work colleague) or event (eg, a tool not working properly) or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
Like other emotions, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, breathing becomes faster, your mind races and thinking becomes narrowed and your muscles tense up, just to mention a few signs.
How Do You Express Anger?
Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires strong, often aggressive feelings and behaviours which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we perceive we are in danger. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.
On the other hand, if we physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us we are going to end up hurting others and ourselves. Common sense tells us we must learn to take the healthy way out by taking control of our anger and not let anger take control of us.
Anger can be suppressed and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself resulting in depression.
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met without hurting yourself or others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding, it means being respectful to yourself and others.
Article posted 8 December 2013
is a counsellor and group facilitator with a pirvate practice in Birkenhead on Auckland's North Shore find out more