Anger awareness week - understanding anger

One of the worst aspects of anger my clients describe to me, is feeling or acting out of control and the consequences of an outburst. With Christmas and its inherent stresses around the corner, anger awareness week has apt timing. Any time is a good time to start taking control and making some changes, maybe even more so this time of year. Let’s understand some aspects of anger.

  • Anger isn’t part of your personality! It’s a learned response that may have been reinforced over a long period, but not necessarily part of who you are.
  • Anger isn’t all bad! Anger can be a healthy emotion to express, but can have unhelpful consequences when it moves into aggression. Anger can represent the importance of a subject to us.
  • Anger can be physically unhealthy! Frequent anger responses can result in the release of our stress hormone cortisol, which can be unhealthy over long sustained periods of time.
  • Anger can seem to get results! People are likely to stay out of our way when we get angry, which can reinforce that anger is a useful function in our minds.
  • Anger isn’t only a short term response! Yes, people stay out of our way in the short term, but in the longer term people can avoid us, relationships can sever and we are left with the guilt and shame attached to it.
  • Anger is rooted in our beliefs! Anger isn’t simply a reaction, it is often from a belief relating to something we feel. Past experiences can influence how much we feel we need to defend or attack others.
  • Anger is often a defence mechanism! If we feel threatened we can react angrily or we can pre-empt a perceived attack by getting angry first. But there are more helpful ways of achieving the same outcome.
  • Anger can be overcome! Because it isn’t a part of our personality, anger is a state of mind which can be altered. We simply need to know how. If we aren’t angry 100% of the time, it means that there are times when we’re calm, happy, safe or content. If we can learn how to replicate that state of mind, anger can become a thing of the past.

Anger can feel like an overwhelming aspect of our life to try and change. We are likely to have felt angry for a long time, are not sure what else we would do in situations and have tried to make changes in the past. Sometimes we need some objective input to help us really identify what is perpetuating our anger, before making fundamental and sustainable changes. So consider speaking to a professional near you and exploring your options. 

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