is an emotion that is generally experienced in response to frustration,
a threat to our self esteem or when someone disobeys one of our
rules for living e.g. 'people should not be rude'. It is both
normal and healthy to respond to certain situations with anger.
It could be argued that anger serves a positive purpose in some
situations. For example, anger discourages others from behaving
in ways that we do not want and it provides us with the motivation
to do the things that we would not otherwise do. After all, anger
is what has fuelled some of the world's great protests to injustice,
and has helped shape some powerful political decisions for change.
It is how we express anger that makes it healthy or unhealthy
things that trigger our anger will be very unique to the individual
and can range from other people's behaviour, doing something ourselves
that we are disappointed in, injustice and bereavement. What angers
one person is unlikely to anger another in the same way. This
is because of the basic beliefs we have developed over the years
about how people should and should not behave, how the world should
be and how we compare to other people.
is Unhealthy Anger?
becomes unhelpful to us when we begin to overestimate or make
assumptions about the extent to which the person who has upset
us has acted intentionally. We begin to see malicious intent in
the unreasonable behaviour of others and see ourselves as definitely
correct in our reactions and the other person as definitely incorrect
in their initial actions towards us. We can become closed off
to accepting an alternative to any other point of view but our
own and sometimes will plot revenge or demand that the person/thing
that we are angry with be punished!
unhealthy anger our behaviour can be both damaging to ourselves
and to others. We might attack people physically or verbally or
we might take our anger out on an innocent victim, just so we
can vent off some steam. We might even try to get other people
on our side in an attempt to win an argument.
anger leaves us open to criticism and to feelings of guilt and
low self esteem following our angry outbursts, which is why unhealthy
anger needs to be managed in the long term.
What is Healthy Anger?
anger is much better for us in that our thinking and behaviour
is not overly damaging to us or to others. When we are healthily
angry are able to express our needs without intending to damage
the needs of others, and simply request, but not demand, that
others change their unacceptable behaviour towards us. We are
also more likely to get what we want by being this way.
Why Does My Body React In This Way When I Am Angry?
bodies are designed to protect us so that we can continue to procreate
and survive as a species. If we perceive a threat, our bodies
will gear us up to either fight this threat or to run away from
it. At this point Adrenalin is released from our brains, which
gets our hearts pumping faster and pumping blood around in the
stomach and out to the muscles in our limbs (which help us to
fight and run). Unfortunately this archaic system cannot decipher
between what is really a threat and what is an irrational response.
This explains why people experience sweaty palms, butterflies
in their stomach and a feeling of heat in response to anger.
Can I Change?
cognitive behavioural therapist (please visit http://www.nacbt.org/whatiscbt.htm
for more information about CBT) will help you to firstly assess
how your anger helps and hinders you. Secondly they will help
you to understand what triggers your anger, so that you can pre-empt
anger provoking situations and assess what beliefs/thoughts drive
your anger. You and your therapist will work together to develop
an understanding of your patterns of anger and your thoughts and
behaviours that are generated by different triggers. This is usually
done by encouraging you to keep an anger diary. Later sessions
will focus on helping you to challenge your thinking and work
on different, more helpful behavioural responses to your anger.
Visit your GP for details about how to access counselling.
your GP for a referral to a counsellor, Cognitive Behavioural
Therapist or group therapy/support (if available). If your anger
is affecting you and others adversely, your GP may want to explore
the option of medication with you. Anger often co-exists with
mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, so you
might want to mention this to your GP if you are experiencing
any other symptoms of distress. If you do not like the idea of
therapy at this time, or whilst you are waiting for therapy you
can try reading the following books: