Anger and our behaviour
Anger (a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility) is a normal human emotional response. It is an emotion that evokes a strong uncomfortable and hostile response to a potential provocation, hurt or threat. Feelings of anger stem from hurt and painful feelings. This emotion can occur when we feel that our personal boundaries, morals and ethics are being attacked. We may feel injustice, frustration or an insult to our self-esteem, the direct core of who we are. We are all capable of having angry feelings. Becoming angry helps us to deal with life’s ups and downs. How would we be able to express how we felt about situations that do not agree with? How would we be able to express how we feel to others? How would we be able to communicate our points of view to others? This is the moral right of every human being.
By using our feelings of anger appropriately, we will help ourselves navigate our everyday lives. We learn how to deal with our emotions from a very early age. As a baby, we learn that when we cry, a care giver will care for us. As a toddler, we use our anger emotions to show that we do not want to share our toys or eat a certain food. Parents will nurture their child and teach them right from wrong and how to deal with their anger effectively. These learned experiences help to shape our social and emotional resilience in how we cope with others.
When we feel hurt or threatened, our anger belief system needs to react. This anger may manifest itself and be expressed in many ways, either passively or aggressively.
- Bringing up old arguments and using them as ‘digs’ in new conversations
- Sulking and having a ‘long face’ with no explanation
- Using emotional blackmail to get what you want
- Using tears and illnesses to get your own way
- Saying sorry too often and being over critical of yourself
- Being dependent on other people and choosing people who are unreliable
- Using ‘cold shoulder’ treatment
- Avoiding conflict and not ‘standing up for yourself’
- Putting the telephone down during a conversation when you do not get what you want
- Abusing and hurting others because you're hurting
- Frightening people, (e.g. carrying weapons)
- Using aggressive words or gestures
- Using or threatening violence
- Harming animals or objects
- Deliberately taking advantage of other people’s weaknesses
- Blaming others when you are not at fault
- Not helping others in need or ignoring requests for help
- Refusing to forgive and forget or ‘agree to disagree’
- Becoming explosively angry over minor issues
Constructive Ways of dealing with anger
It is ok to feel anger. It is after all, a normal, human, emotional response to threat. Allow yourself to feel anger, especially if your first thought is to ignore and bury it away. Is this feeling annoyance, a bit angry, very angry or absolutely furious? It is a good idea to add levels to the feeling to help you understand the feeling and work on coping strategies.
Encourage yourself to take a step back before reacting. This takes practice and determination. What triggered the feeling? Is the emotional reaction to the situation valid or out of proportion? How would you ideally like to deal with the feeling?
When you are ready, talk to someone who can help you sort out the issue and look at a positive outcome.
Looking at ways to positively deal with the anger so that you feel in control: you could talk to the person who made your angry and tell them how you feel, change your ways of thinking around the root cause of your anger or channel your energies in another way, for example exercise or forgiveness. Forgiving takes time and patience. By exploring the root cause of your anger, understanding why and where it came from and dealing with it effectively, this will help you live your live in a calmer and positive state.
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About Heather Shipley
Heather Shipley is a CBT and Emotional Therapeutic Counsellor (DipFETC MNCS MFETC). Her style of counselling is person-centred and includes talking and creative therapies for children, adolescents and adults. For further details: www.hshipleytherapy.co.uk.