Identify your response to anger
Feeling emotion is all part of being human, and anger is no exception. Feeling angry can be a natural and healthy response to being attacked, insulted, deceived or let down by someone you love. For example, anger can be useful when someone attacks you as it raises the level of adrenaline in your body ready for ‘fight or flight’.
As anger is energy, it needs to go somewhere – either externally or internally. Expressing (externalising) anger is good for you, but not when it is expressed at inappropriate times or in unsafe ways as it can damage your health and relationships. If anger is bottled up, and internalised, you may find yourself getting annoyed and feeling extremely angry and respond more aggressively than is appropriate to the situation.
If you are struggling to recognise your response to anger, think back to how your family dealt with the emotion. Were you raised in a home where one or both of your parents were emotionally ‘out of control’? When your father became angry, maybe he took it out on you, or threw things around the room. This could lead to the child believing that it is always okay to act out your anger and not learn how to understand or manage it – or that anger is something destructive and terrifying.
Or maybe you were raised in a family that didn’t like anger and didn’t address it, or were punished for expressing anger as a child? This could lead to the child believing they shouldn’t complain and should just ‘put up with things’. Therefore, more passive symptoms may arise, such as defensiveness, withdrawal and silence.
If you’re unable express your anger using a safe and constructive method, it could affect your emotional, mental and physical health. It could lead to depression, sleep problems, compulsive behaviour, irritable bowel syndrome or destructive and violent behaviour.
If anger is becoming problematic for you, it’s important that you start to understand it and use methods to limit the chances of it being expressed in a way that is damaging. For instance you could start a journal and write down what is happening when you feel when angry (triggers) and how you responded. Just identifying and recognising what is making your angry may help you to work it out for yourself. For further help visit: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/controlling-anger.aspx or speak to a counsellor.
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- Anger management: “How do you transform a raging lion into a purring cat?”
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