The Nature of Anger
Namibian Clinical Psychologist Edwina Mensah-Husselman, and the team at Let’s Talk Psychologists have helped us to drill into the psychology of the emotion of anger. Firstly, helping us to understand anger, this week they have shared with us on the nature of anger. Next week’s they’ll give us the tips to deal with anger because as in the words of Advocate Thuli Madonsela, “Anger corrodes the soul that carries it.”
The following summary has been prepared for MYD Heart by Let’s Talk Psychologists
What is Anger?
- Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats. However, this emotional state varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.
- It is accompanied by physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
- The instinctive way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.
- People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings.
What causes Anger?
- Anger can be caused by both external and internal events.
- You could be angry at a specific person or event, or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.
- Many things can lead a person to struggle to manage their anger and this can include things like disruptive families that were not skilled at emotional communication or sociocultural norms that see anger being denied expression in our society because it is regarded as negative emotion and as a result we don’t learn how to channel our anger correctly.
How to know if you are too angry?
Chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help in finding better ways to deal with this emotion.
There are warning signs to look out for that can tell is a person has not dealt with their anger or if they are ‘too’ angry.
Symptoms of anger that is not being dealt with :
- Being irritable and grumpy.
- Withdrawing socially, sulking, or getting physically ill.
- Having a low tolerance for frustration and feeling you should not be subjected to any frustration, inconveniences, or annoyances.
- Not being able to take things in your stride
- Extreme reactions to situations you feel are unjust
Easy ways to deal with anger:
The three main approaches for dealing with anger are expressing, suppressing, and calming
Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger.
Learn how to make clear what your needs are. Being assertive doesn’t mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected, focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behaviour.
Unexpressed anger can create other problems: passive-aggressive behaviour, a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile, constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, making cynical comments and aren’t likely to have many successful relationships.
Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes.
The team at Let’s Talk Psychologists will have more for us next week as they share tools to deal with anger.