What Is Anger?

Controlling Anger — Before It Controls You

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We all know what anger is, and we’ve all felt it: whether as a fleeting annoyance or as full-fledged rage.Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But when it gets out of control and turns destructive, it can lead to problems�problems at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. And it can make you feel as though you’re at the mercy of an unpredictable and powerful emotion. This brochure is meant to help you understand and control anger.

What is Anger?

The Nature of Anger

Anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage,” according to Charles Spielberger, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in the study of anger. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry at a specific person (Such as a coworker or supervisor) or event (a traffic jam, a canceled flight), 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.

Expressing Anger

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

On the other hand, we can’t physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.

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 others. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.

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 behavior. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn’t allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward�on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven’t learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.

Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.

As Dr. Spielberger notes, “when none of these three techniques work, that’s when someone�or something�is going to get hurt.”

Anger Management

The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can’t get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.

Are You Too Angry?

There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.

Why Are Some People More Angry Than Others?

According to Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in anger management, some people really are more “hotheaded” than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don’t show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don’t always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.

People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can’t take things in stride, and they’re particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.

What makes these people this way? A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we’re taught that it’s all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don’t learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.

Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.

Is It Good To “Let it All Hang Out?”

Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that “letting it rip” with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you’re angry with) resolve the situation.

It’s best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.

Strategies To Keep Anger At Bay

Relaxation

Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. There are books and courses that can teach you relaxation techniques, and once you learn the techniques, you can call upon them in any situation. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.

Some simple steps you can try:

  • Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won’t relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your “gut.”
  • Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as “relax,” “take it easy.” Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
  • Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
  • Nonstrenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer.

Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you’re in a tense situation.

Cognitive Restructuring

Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colorful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you’re angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, “oh, it’s awful, it’s terrible, everything’s ruined,” tell yourself, “it’s frustrating, and it’s understandable that I’m upset about it, but it’s not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow.”

Be careful of words like “never” or “always” when talking about yourself or someone else. “This !&*%@ machine never works,” or “you’re always forgetting things” are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there’s no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.

Remind yourself that getting angry is not going to fix anything, that it won’t make you feel better (and may actually make you feel worse).

Logic defeats anger, because anger, even when it’s justified, can quickly become irrational. So use cold hard logic on yourself. Remind yourself that the world is “not out to get you,” you’re just experiencing some of the rough spots of daily life. Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, and it’ll help you get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we are all hurt and disappointed when we don’t get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren’t met, their disappointment becomes anger. As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to become aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, “I would like” something is healthier than saying, “I demand” or “I must have” something. When you’re unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions�frustration, disappointment, hurt�but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn’t mean the hurt goes away.

Problem Solving

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced, and often it’s a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn’t always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.

Make a plan, and check your progress along the way. Resolve to give it your best, but also not to punish yourself if an answer doesn’t come right away. If you can approach it with your best intentions and efforts and make a serious attempt to face it head-on, you will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.

Better Communication

Angry people tend to jump to�and act on�conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you’re in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don’t say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.

Listen, too, to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your “significant other” wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don’t retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.

It’s natural to get defensive when you’re criticized, but don’t fight back. Instead, listen to what’s underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don’t let your anger�or a partner’s�let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.

Using Humor

“Silly humor” can help defuse rage in a number of ways. For one thing, it can help you get a more balanced perspective. When you get angry and call someone a name or refer to them in some imaginative phrase, stop and picture what that word would literally look like. If you’re at work and you think of a coworker as a “dirtbag” or a “single-cell life form,” for example, picture a large bag full of dirt (or an amoeba) sitting at your colleague’s desk, talking on the phone, going to meetings. Do this whenever a name comes into your head about another person. If you can, draw a picture of what the actual thing might look like. This will take a lot of the edge off your fury; and humor can always be relied on to help unknot a tense situation.

The underlying message of highly angry people, Dr. Deffenbacher says, is “things oughta go my way!” Angry people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should NOT have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them!

When you feel that urge, he suggests, picture yourself as a god or goddess, a supreme ruler, who owns the streets and stores and office space, striding alone and having your way in all situations while others defer to you. The more detail you can get into your imaginary scenes, the more chances you have to realize that maybe you are being unreasonable; you’ll also realize how unimportant the things you’re angry about really are. There are two cautions in using humor. First, don’t try to just “laugh off” your problems; rather, use humor to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don’t give in to harsh, sarcastic humor; that’s just another form of unhealthy anger expression.

What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously. Anger is a serious emotion, but it’s often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.

Changing Your Environment

Sometimes it’s our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the “trap” you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.

Give yourself a break. Make sure you have some “personal time” scheduled for times of the day that you know are particularly stressful. One example is the working mother who has a standing rule that when she comes home from work, for the first 15 minutes “nobody talks to Mom unless the house is on fire.” After this brief quiet time, she feels better prepared to handle demands from her kids without blowing up at them.

Some Other Tips for Easing Up on Yourself

Timing: If you and your spouse tend to fight when you discuss things at night�perhaps you’re tired, or distracted, or maybe it’s just habit�try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don’t turn into arguments.

Avoidance: If your child’s chaotic room makes you furious every time you walk by it, shut the door. Don’t make yourself look at what infuriates you. Don’t say, “well, my child should clean up the room so I won’t have to be angry!” That’s not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.

Finding alternatives: If your daily commute through traffic leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project�learn or map out a different route, one that’s less congested or more scenic. Or find another alternative, such as a bus or commuter train.

Do You Need Counseling?

If you feel that your anger is really out of control, if it is having an impact on your relationships and on important parts of your life, you might consider counseling to learn how to handle it better. A psychologist or other licensed mental health professional can work with you in developing a range of techniques for changing your thinking and your behavior.

When you talk to a prospective therapist, tell her or him that you have problems with anger that you want to work on, and ask about his or her approach to anger management. Make sure this isn’t only a course of action designed to “put you in touch with your feelings and express them”�that may be precisely what your problem is. With counseling, psychologists say, a highly angry person can move closer to a middle range of anger in about 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the circumstances and the techniques used.

What About Assertiveness Training?

It’s true that angry people need to learn to become assertive (rather than aggressive), but most books and courses on developing assertiveness are aimed at people who don’t feel enough anger. These people are more passive and acquiescent than the average person; they tend to let others walk all over them. That isn’t something that most angry people do. Still, these books can contain some useful tactics to use in frustrating situations.

Remember, you can’t eliminate anger�and it wouldn’t be a good idea if you could. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger; and sometimes it will be justifiable anger. Life will be filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can’t change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep them from making you even more unhappy in the long run.

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3 thoughts on “What Is Anger?”

  1. to get rid of the anger we still may have to deal with the causes of the anger.. even the people who wrongfully made us angry as well..

    Still too many of the sheep or many Ostrich liked persons seem to avoid dealing with negative realties and as a result get often get angry be of these unresolved personal conflicts, even cause they continue to be abused by others for example so they need to recognize the problem and deal with it still..

    Like it or not 30 percent of all persons are immoral abusers, liars, bullies, cheat who likely should be jailed now.. jail is the right place for them too.. On my family blog I have loads of people researching how to deal with bad, crooked churches, alcoholics, bullies, verbal abuse, etc. and they do need enlightenment, help in dealing with this too.

    Some of us who have matured are willing to help others learn from even our own insights, experiences

    (2 Cor 1:3 KJV) Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

    (2 Cor 1:4 KJV) Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

    (2 Cor 1:5 KJV) For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

    One effective way that I do deal with anger is to write down what I am angry about and why too.

    Afghani journalism student Parwiz Kambakhsh has been sentenced to death for blaspheming because he not only downloaded articles regarding woman’s right’s under Islam, but also exposing the brutality against women and children by the local warlords in his community. He is being sentenced to death for “disseminating defamatory comments about Islam.”Say it isn’t soooo? Sounds like another mo-ham-med teddy bear moment to me! A three judge panel decided that his articles were blasphemous and sentenced him to die. That’s Shari’ah Law for you. The issue for this writer is the Islamic concept of blasphemy.. http://gto7.wordpress.com/2008/02/03/islam-is-truly-satans-religion/

    This is what American, Canadian soldiers are dying for over there now too?

    Some persons try to say that Islam has freed them, but did your brothers, father, government free you yet too? or are they still killing, murdering you ?

    Physical abuse, Human rights abuses, Verbal abuse, silent treatment or being a control freak is also not acceptable even on the net.. For any religion to survive in the modern world, it needs to adapt to its reality, especially when it comes to equality between men and women concerning religious practices. As men and women should worship God in the same way, women should also have the same rights as women in assuming religious responsibilities.

    While there are some common, rare similarity amongst some of the major religions in this world, The aspect of polygamy, the rights of divorce is clearly one that contrasts them all.. for a True Christian divorce is not permitted at all.. even if many Christians falsely practice it.

    Too Many persons do practice their own version of Christianity, and Islam it seems thus, based on what others have said it says too..

    It is true that there are many Muslims, men as well as women, who fully do not live up to the teachings of Islam, and the other religions now just as there are too many Christian men and women who do not live up to the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles, the Bible undeniably.

    Muslims women themselves now often complain to news editors how they are abused by Muslim men. Muslim Religion and do not have equal rights to the men, for example the right to go to school in many Muslim countries now too.. Muslims have equal rights to the other citizens in the English speaking countries.. In fact non Muslims do not have the same rights as Muslims in many Muslim countries now too and all of these facts are undeniable, and undisputable.

    You must always still judge any person now by what they say, but by what they do. Bad people do bad things, no matter what their religion is now too.
    It is interesting that a lot of the comparative religion’s values stated on the internet was, are still based on how the followers of that religion, do respect the human rights of others too, and how they now do practically treat other, and each others too, especially how they do treat the women today, equally or unfairly now too. And while that alone is a valid point, especially since women make up over half of the population of the world, and all of this is valid especially , since God himself clearly and for certainty does not allow the abuse of any persons, verbally or physically, or allow now any human rights abuses now as well, and for any reasons as well, and that now also still even includes any man, woman, child, and any seniors now as well, any abuses of self or others are sinful…While there are some common, rare similarity amongst some of the major religions in this world, The aspect of divorce is clearly one that contrasts them all.. It is true that there are many Muslims, men as well as women, who fully do not live up to the teachings of Islam, just as there are many Christian men and women who do not live up to the teachings of Jesus. You must always still judge any person now by what they say, but by what they do. Bad people do bad things, no matter what their religion is now too. Also real Reform from within Muslim societies is still even needed, first by education, knowing that over half of Muslims today, are illiterate, only 15 percent know Arabic, which is the language of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam. Too Many persons do practice their own version of Christianity, and Islam it seems thus, what others have said it says too..

    What others say

    “Islam as a religion aiming to oppress women is a direct result of the abuse of Islam by some Muslim states, depending on the absolute respect given to religion by Muslim societies. In fact, Islamic law, if interpreted outside of its proper context, could be abused to justify and codify the violations of women’s rights in Muslim societies and states in the name of religion, in order to achieve certain social and political goals. The central question that poses itself, is whether there already exists a space for women to enjoy their human rights under the umbrella of Islam, or whether in general, men “have a degree” over women in Islam (Abdul-Ati). If some people are arguing that Islam ensures equity between men and women in both rights and duties, then what does it mean when the Qur’an, which is the standard revelatory source of Islamic Law, says: “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage in some cases of inheritance) over them,” (Qur’an 2:228). How would those people explain the meaning of that “degree” that men have over women? Is it because of that revelatory verse that some Muslim societies until now treat women as second-degree creatures in the name of Islam? The existence of some specific women’s rights in Islam is now obvious, and provided with a good argument, but how about polygamy in Islam? Is it true that a Muslim man has the right to marry up to four wives? Where is equity, then? What does it mean when the Qur’an states that a Muslim man, if he has the potential, can choose to marry one or two or three, or even four women (Badawi)? Does it mean that women are that marginalized and humiliated by the name of the religion?”
    http://takingitglobal.org/express/panorama/article.html?ContentID=2393

    It is a sad note as well that both religious persons of all the minor, major religions too, and non religious persons, at least 90 percent of them, have been, or are still unacceptably guilty of false the discriminations of others, even too often the accusers of the others.

    There is still a serious, real need in changing the Muslim countries’ laws, agendas, in order to fill the gap between the supposed women’s rights afforded by Islam, and women’s rights afforded in reality by many of the Muslim societies, and most Muslim males have to accept some serious religious even re-education.. Also real Reform from within Muslim societies is still even needed, first by even education, knowing that over half of Muslims today, are illiterate, only 15 percent do even know Arabic, which is the language of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam.

    “I don’t understand how Islam supposedly can give all these rights to women and then place the man as the head of the household in a position to abuse the woman’s rights. For instance, how can she hold on to her personal wealth if he tells her to hand it over? I do not know one Muslim family where the man is not abusing his position in some way.” Surah 4 – verse 34: *{… as to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill conduct, admonish them [first], [next] refuse to share their beds, [and last] beat them [lightly]; but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means [of annoyance]: for God is Most High, Great [above you all].}* Can a wife beat her unfaithful husband according to Islam now too? Another central issue should be re-examined–the common practise of Islam where a Muslim man’s testimony in a court is counted as equal to the testimony of two Muslim women. That itself is degrading. “and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as you choose for witnesses so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. ” (Qur’an 2:282). ” Much too many Muslim men consider this verse religious evidence that women are mentally deficient.” ” Many persons consider the standing of Muslim women behind men in prayers a practical evidence that women under Islam, are excluded and humiliated, even in matters regarding their spiritual rights and there is no justification for the standing of women behind men.”
    “My beloved wife oftentimes reminds my family to regard her with respect to her mind, but my mama and papa laugh at her. What can I say to my wife to stop her from slapping them down in anger? “. If husband can divorce his wife by saying 3 talak at a time & marriage is over, then how does Islam protect women’s right? Many husbands do abuse their divorce power. All the Muslim men who claim to be Muslims and abuse the women supposedly do not even know well their own religion or do not practice it? and for too many Muslim men it seems also it does not matter what Islam says because he is only following what pleases him, his interests, his interpreations of the laws.. sad.. Also since Islam came supposedly with higher moral laws to correct those of the Jahiliyyah, why didn’t Islam abolish enslaving women and children at times of war? Any abuse of anyone by anyone still is unacceptable. ” Everytime I ask my dad to open a bank account for me, he says I am a girl and therefore I should not get a bank account, while my younger brother has a bank account…” all about the true side of Islam.

    “O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and God brings about through it a great deal of good. Surah 4 Verse 19″
    …They (Your wives) are your garments and ye are their garments. …. Surah 2 Verse 187

    “Among the Muslims, the most perfect as regards his faith is the one whose character is most excellent, and the best among you are those who treat their wives well.”

    .. I am also sure if you ask enough people, continue to look for it that you can find just about any answer you want to justify your continuing to sin as well.. but you are fooling only yourself still and not God.

    Note: Sikhism now also like Mormons, Hindus, Jehovah Witnesses, Islam , Buddhism, and many others too are a cult, sect that bears no genuine relationship to Christianity too. It does not follow the Christian Bible too.

    One cannot help but notice how so many of these religions differ but now they still do claim to be originated with God. A true God is certainly not so confused that he has started all these various, different and false religions.

    but one should also clearly note that the religion own method of the absolute treatment of the forgiveness of personal sins is also more important to note, recognize now as well. Only the Christian religion undeniable provides assurance of one’s personal salvation, entrance to Heaven and clearly now promises immediate complete forgiveness too, through the past shed blood of God, Jesus Christ Himself !

    (Luk 11:2 But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

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