Tacoma Christian Counselor
In many situations, we act not based on our thoughts, but by being led by our instincts and feelings. One such powerful emotion is anger, and it has the potential to either fire us up to do great things, or it can be an uncontrolled blaze that hurts both us and the people around us if we’re not careful.
A glance at the news or our entertainment will show us just how prevalent anger and angry reactions to situations are. Incidents of road rage, vicious posts on social media, angry outbursts at the dinner table or family gatherings are so common that they sometimes don’t seem shocking and have become entertaining.
Uncontrolled anger is dangerous for the person experiencing it, and whomever it may be getting directed at. A large study from 2015 found that about 7.8% of the US population deals with either intense or poorly controlled anger, and that’s a significant part of our population. Knowing if you suffer from anger issues can help you avoid the devastating effects of uncontrolled anger in your life.
The four signs of anger.
All of us will experience anger at some point. If a person is feeling angry, there are certain physical symptoms they may experience, and these include increased blood pressure and heart rate, muscle tension, and a tingling sensation in their extremities. Feeling angry and having anger issues isn’t the same thing. Below are the four signs to look out for that may indicate that you or a loved one has anger issues.
1. Inability to control anger.
Our many emotions may be powerful, but they all ought to be under our control. Being led by your emotions is problematic because the choices and actions you take while under the influence of those emotions can range from mildly inconvenient to jaw-droppingly catastrophic.
If you find that you struggle to control your anger and what you do with your anger goes beyond what is healthy for you and others around you, that may signal anger issues. Some people direct their anger inwardly, while others are passive-aggressive about it, and still others direct their anger outward.Outward expressions of anger such as shouting, making threats of violence, hurling insults at people, or breaking and throwing things are some of the more obvious signs of anger issues. But whether you’re directing your anger inwardly or outwardly and in passive-aggressive ways, struggling to rein in the anger indicates that anger issues may be at play.
2. Relationships have suffered because of that anger.
Whether your anger is of the passive-aggressive, inwardly focused, or outwardly directed sort, unbridled anger will have an impact on relationships, both personally and professionally. The things that go on within us don’t just stop there – they filter to the people around us.
If you or your loved one has lost relationships due to anger, or their life is marked by repeated conflicts in their relationships, these may all be signs of anger issues. If your anger issues are impacting your day-to-day personal or professional life, you may need to see a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
3. You are angry and hate yourself.
Anger can be directed in many ways, but one sign of anger issues is when the anger that one might feel toward others, or a situation curves inward, and you end up feeling hatred toward yourself. This self-hatred can manifest as negative self-talk, self-loathing, and feeling unworthy. Many people who struggle with anger issues develop these negative feelings toward themselves.
4. Anger is easily triggered.
In addition to the above signs, if you find that feelings of anger and an angry response are triggered quickly and easily, that too may point to anger issues. If you find that you are very impatient, easily irritated with people, or are irritable without much provocation, anger probably has more of a hold on you than it should.
Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that often there’s something else going on beneath the surface that is the trigger and underlying cause of that anger. This makes it important to take a step back and evaluate what’s really going on. If you don’t examine or deal with whatever underlies and is the root cause of your anger, it can lead to anger issues.
Anger issues can be caused by a variety of things. As a secondary emotion, anger can be caused by feelings of:
- Unmet expectations: such as when a loved one shows up late to an important event or doesn’t show up at all
- Grief: for example, when you’re going through a breakup or have lost a loved one
- Disappointment: like when you’re stuck in traffic or have missed your stop
- Fear: such as when you don’t know the outcome of important medical tests
- Betrayal: for example, discovering that your friend betrayed a confidence, or that you’re being cheated on by your partner
- Stress from financial, work, or family issues
When we feel these things and don’t address them directly, we can act in anger, sometimes without even being aware of why. Anger issues also cooccur with and may be a symptom of conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), alcohol abuse, Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Because anger issues may stem from a wide range of sources, getting the input of a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis is important. This will help you to address the source of the problem with appropriate intervention.
Finding help and healing.
Anger issues can be devastating for you and your loved ones. The great news is that there is help available to get anger under control and find the peace and joy we all crave. Depending on the severity of your anger issues, your doctor may recommend one or several of the following options:
Mindfulness techniques and self-care: Practicing mindfulness is about being present in the moment and acknowledging your feelings without passing any judgment upon them or yourself. When you practice mindfulness, it can help you be more fully aware of what your body is telling you, which equips you to better discern the physical cues of anger before it consumes you.
Self-care is about making sure that your body and mind can deal with your experiences and emotions. Poor sleep negatively affects how you react to situations, and so sleeping and eating well, and getting exercise helps you not only in reducing stress but in giving you the capacity to exercise your emotional intelligence.
Therapy: Whether it takes place in group or individual therapy, therapy will help you process and understand not only the roots of your anger issues but their consequences and impact on the people around you.
Your therapist can make use of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a type of therapy that helps you identify negative behavioral and thought patterns that may be feeding into your anger. When you become aware of these negative patterns, you can begin working on how to change them and express your anger in healthy ways.
Another therapeutic technique is Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), which can help you pinpoint the times you experienced exceptions to your anger issues, and then make tangible changes based on that. When you can determine and understand what was different about the times you were able to effectively manage triggers or feelings that would have typically led to anger, you can begin to intentionally do more of what worked in those situations.
Medications: Medications do not treat anger specifically, but they can treat underlying mental health conditions such as depression that may be feeding your anger.
Anger doesn’t have to rule over you and bring complications into your life. Like most things, anger makes for a good servant, but it is a terrible master. If you or your loved one struggles with anger, the best thing to do is seek a proper diagnosis and professional help to bring that anger under control.
“Enraged”, Courtesy of Nsey Benajah, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Rage”, Courtesy of Usman Yousaf, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Breakdown”, Courtesy of Aaron Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stressed”, Courtesy of Engin Akyurt, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
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