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None of us like being around angry people, nor do we like ourselves very much when we are angry. Angry people are impatient, unreasonable and frightening. Some people become so aggressive they physically attack someone else.We often communicate our anger in ways that, at best, have no effect on our situation. More commonly, we show our anger in ways that make our circumstances worse – giving anger it’s negative and destructive reputation. Many people struggle to express their anger at all.

Yet anger is something we are all born with and it is up to us whether we use it as a positive or negative influence in our lives.

 Understanding anger

Anger is the ‘fight‘ part of the ‘flight or fight’ reaction – the response our body has to a real or an imagined threat. It is the result of a surge of adrenaline, cortisol and other automatic chemical and neurological reactions in our body and brain.

These reactions are very quick and work faster than the rational and logical part of the brain and therefore seem difficult to control. The more times we get angry, the quicker the reaction becomes. The higher our adrenaline levels are, the less control we will have over these reactions.

Anger can be used as a cover for other feelings and prevent us from showing our vulnerability. It is our way of saying that our needs are not being met

If we remain angry with other people it will simply keep us stuck. It will stop us moving on and addressing or changing a particular aspect of our lives.

Unexpressed anger

Many people learn in childhood not to show anger – let alone express it. Over time we can even keep it hidden from ourselves and may not even feel it.

Many people I have worked with, or know, are proud in the knowledge that they never get angry. However it is not easy to hide our anger from other people. They will detect it in the smallest of gestures, the tension in our muscles, and the tone of our voice, the flush of our skin or the narrowing of our eyes.

If we don’t express anger, it will build up inside us and create illness and pain, depression, anxiety and burst out at inappropriate times with the wrong people.

If we consciously or unconsciously ignore our anger it will express itself in passive/ aggressive ways and we may become sarcastic, manipulative or forgetful and can cause deep problems in our relationships.

Anger can also be suppressed by addictive behaviour. 

Causes of anger

  1. Stress and anxiety.

Physiologically anger and anxiety are connected to each other.

Anxiety is the feeling we have when we are worried about what may happen or fearful about something specific that has occurred. It creates adrenaline in our bodies and becomes a chronic condition we call stress, when the accumulated adrenaline isn’t ‘burnt off’.

Symptoms are numerous and vary from person to person. They include muscle tension, headaches and migraine, sweating, digestive and appetite disorders, chest pains, sleeplessness, memory problems, an inability to concentrate and depression.

This build up of adrenaline is the flight or fight reaction and therefore also causes angry outbursts and mood swings.

Some people turn their anger into anxiety and some people express their anxiety as anger.

  1. Feeling powerless

Feeling powerless seems to be the most difficult emotional state to tolerate.

As a rule of thumb, a feeling of powerlessness underlies anger. When we cannot control or change the situations that we find ourselves in we can become frustrated and angry.

As a reaction to the hopelessness and despair we experience when we are feeling powerless, we swing into anger, which even though it isn’t necessarily a good feeling, does serve to take us away from a painful or disturbing place. We feel powerful when we are angry even if we don’t actually achieve anything. 

  1. Trauma

One of the long term symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress is mood swings and angry outbursts.

This seems to be caused by our body and mind remaining in the hyper vigilant state (with the associated high levels of adrenaline etc), that we need to survive and cope with extreme and life threatening situations.

This needs to be dealt with by a skilled professional.

  1. Grief

One of the stages that we go through when we have suffered a loss is anger. This is normal, but becomes problematic if someone becomes stuck at this stage. Professional support will be needed for someone to move past this and be able to move on.

  1. Physical causes

Tiredness, low blood sugar, illness.

  1. Resentment

Every time we say yes when we mean no, or our needs are not considered by other people we feel a bit of resentment. Over time these small amounts can build up into anger, or turn into guilt and shame.

Anger, at its best, is a powerful energy for change.

If you would like to find out more about how to deal with your own anger book a no obligation ‘Get Calm’ Clarity Call with Linda.