Anger: Causes and Effects of this Powerful Emotion
Everyone experiences anger at some point. Various factors can contribute to the emotion of anger. It can be triggered in many situations, We feel angry –
- if we are scared
- if someone has wronged us
- if we feel helpless
- if we see something wrong happening
- if we feel frustrated and unable to handle a situation
- if we interpret things inappropriately
- if we keep harping about some past event
- if someone has not followed instructions
- if someone has hurt or disrespected us
- if we have family issues/ health issues/financial issues or stress.
Underlying disorders such as depression or alcoholism can also be potential triggers for anger.
Understanding the Multifaceted Nature of Anger
Anger involves a complex emotional response with both physiological and psychological components. It’s essential to acknowledge that anger, as an emotion, is a normal and often healthy reaction to specific situations. However, it becomes problematic when individuals do not manage or express it appropriately.
- Channels for Expressing Anger: Anger can be directed towards (i) rectifying a situation or (ii) causing harm to others.
- Physical Effects of Anger: Anger has varied effects on our body such as Flared nostrils, lowered brows, thinned lips, churning of the stomach, tightness of the chest, increased heartbeats, rise in systolic blood pressure, weakening of legs, tense muscles, sweating, feeling hot and sweaty, urgent bowel movement, teary eyes, shivering limbs, grinding teeth, dizziness, migraines, gastrointestinal flareups, eye-strain etc.
- Anger and Mental Health: It is also associated with a few mental health conditions like antisocial personality disorder/depression among others, however, anger, as a whole, is not classified as a mental disorder. It is also associated with resentment and irritability.
- Impaired Mental Functions due to Anger: It also limits our mental functions like memory, judgement, evaluation, reasoning, decision-making, practicality and comprehension. We should never make any decisions if we are angry as they turn out to be the worst ones ever!
Understanding and Managing Different Types of Anger: Strategies for Effective Anger Management
There are various types of anger. Yes, you read it right! Who knew that anger also has classifications ?? The following are the various classes of anger and how to manage the issues:
- Assertive anger: A form of constructive anger, it aids in addressing the underlying issue without crossing boundaries or the rights of others. The Management tactic of this type of anger is justified and it helps to overcome fear, fight injustice, and achieve desired outcomes.
- Behavioural anger: A form of impulsive anger in which we react physically – that makes us want to throw things, punch pillows, break crockery, bang doors etc. and which is very unpredictable thereby destroying interpersonal relationships. To manage it, the best approach is to walk away from the situation and tell yourself to “Relax”, “Keep calm”, take deep breaths until you are calmer re-assess the situation and sort it out peacefully.
- Chronic anger: A form of anger directed at ourselves a feeling of resentment towards others/the whole world and a feeling of frustration owing to certain circumstances adversely affecting our well-being. The Management tactic is to take time to understand the reason for your inner turmoil and forgive yourself and others for any past deeds as forgiveness is empowering and powerful which resolves persisting hurt and frustration.
- Judgmental anger: A form of anger which is a reaction to perceived injustices or shortcomings in others. The management tactic involves understanding the other person’s perspective and finding solutions. This helps to face the problem without acting superior and discrediting the other person.
- Overwhelmed anger: A form of anger in which frustration coupled with hopelessness evolves uncontrollably when things are out of our control. This happens when we try to “bite off more than we can chew” i.e. take on entire responsibility/do too much even though it is out of our limits, and then find that we are unable to cope with the same. The tactic is to ask for help, support or delegate some of the responsibilities, to get a part of the load off your shoulders so that you can be in control of the situation.
- Passive-aggressive anger: A form of anger that is avoidant, where confrontation is avoided and frustration is repressed, leading to sarcasm, pointed silence or veiled mockery. The best approach to manage this type of anger is to ask yourself the question “what if” in the given situation thereby making you face your frustration confidently and resolve the issue without suppressing your feelings/emotions.
- Retaliatory anger: A form of anger in which we instinctively or impulsively respond to the situation. This is best managed by stopping, pausing and thinking whether this extreme reaction is required. Will this improve the situation? Will this worsen the situation? Will this improve or hamper relations? What is the benefit of this reaction? If “No” is the answer to all these questions, then anger is not required. You need to stop yourself and avoid the continuing thought of revenge.
- Self–abusive anger: A form of anger leading to negative self-talk, self-harm, substance abuse, unmindful eating and an increasing sense of alienation where you vent your anger to all around you, to hide your feeling of low self-worth/low self-esteem. Management tactic: The key is to identify the thoughts or behavioural patterns that need to be changed, understand their consequences and replace them with positive thoughts. This is called the Cognitive Reframing/Restructuring Technique. Mindfulness meditation is another way to curb negative emotions.
- Verbal anger: A form of anger leading to emotional, psychological abuse aimed at hurting the target of our anger. This can be managed by practising delayed impulses, taking a breath before responding and replacing verbal abuse with assertive communication.
- Volatile anger: An impulsive form of anger leads to getting upset about perceived annoyances and harming interpersonal relationships at home and work. The Management tactic involves recognising the physical symptoms and feelings preceding the anger attack and using relaxation methods to diffuse your anger. Deep breathing is very useful in combatting this.
Journaling is another anger management tactic. This is a very good way to pen your thoughts, feelings and emotions that you are going through. One method is to write down your angry thoughts and vent it all out till you calm down. Then tear up the page. Another method is to write down why you are angry, what triggered you, what you feel besides anger, how is it going to help you, how is it going to affect the person you are angry with, how will this affect your relationship, can this situation be interpreted in another way, is your anger really required, did you feel like walking away or breaking a few plates or verbally abusing or screaming or whatever you felt like at that point of time, what is the outcome of your anger, do you feel like crying, do you feel isolated, are you frustrated about something, are you in fear, etc. This will help you understand yourself better and gain an insight into the anger issue, which will reveal itself in a new light thereby making you re-analyze the situation and diffusing your anger. It helps to calm down.
There are small, small things that we can do to calm ourselves – listen to BK Shivani’s talks or any other speaker/s, listen to soothing music, drink water, drink a cup of tea, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing, sleep, take a walk, take a run, hit the gym, clean your cupboard, polish your shoes, wash your car, knit/sew/paint/draw, anything and everything that calms you and reduces your anger.
Anger management is an interesting subject that offers insight into human behaviour and a lot of research has been done and is ongoing on the same. There are Anger Management classes, where we can learn about controlling our anger under professional guidance. But that’s another tale for another day! None of us can escape this feeling of anger as it is but a part of human nature, but we can definitely do our best not to let it rule us and our decisions.
To conclude with a saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind”.
Author: Ms Rupal Sonpal
- Health Updates