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  • Anneka Barrett

Your Relationship to Anger



Have you felt a little frustrated lately? Maybe disappointed? Have you found your temper has gotten the better of you? These and many other situations make us angry, and yet it’s often a word we avoid using to describe how we feel.


Anger falls into the category of negative emotions, which we often have trouble understanding within ourselves. We learn that negative emotions, anger, sadness, fear are not to be expressed freely. Perhaps you grew up in a home where there was always someone more angry than you, and that was scary. Perhaps you were shamed or told off when you expressed yours in public, and that’s stayed with you. Sometimes even the smallest events from our pasts dramatically shape our present. This is often most prevalent when we explore our own relationship with anger.


We all have anger, each and everyone of us. It is a human emotion, as valid as joy or love. The difference is we don’t honour it in the same way.


Today I invite you to take a little journey and think about your own anger and your relationship with it.


Firstly, what is anger? ‘Anger, also known as wrath or rage, is an intense emotional state involving a strong uncomfortable and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat’. (Thanks wikipedia.)


There are three different types of anger. You will have experienced all of these in your life.


1. Hasty & Sudden

This anger is a ‘survival’ response to a situation and is often an instinctive reaction to a perceived threat.


2. Settled and Deliberate

This anger is often a result of a manipulative situation, for example to motivate people to compete by suggesting someone is ‘better’ than another.


3. Dispositional Anger

Dispositional anger often occurs when feeling anger over long periods, your mood may be sullen or irritable.


Feeling angry may be uncomfortable, however, it is an important emotion to pay attention to. Anger can help us know when something happening to us isn’t right, it can help keep us safe when we sense danger and it can motivate us to change.


Anger becomes a problem when it is suppressed, which can lead to an over expression, such as destructive behaviours, or an impact on your physical or mental health.


Anger is a strong emotion to process. In fact, one of the key cognitive signs that we are angry is the reduced capacity too ‘think before we act’. Therefore, understanding how your body reacts to anger both physically and emotionally can give you more time to gather your thoughts before reacting.


HOW YOU MAY FEEL ANGER PHYSICALLY

  • You may furrow your brows

  • Crossing your arms

  • A sensation in the pit of your stomach

  • Your heart races

  • Your chest tightens

  • You may tremble

  • You may feel tense



HOW ANGER MAKES YOU FEEL

  • A general sense of being ‘out of control’

  • You may feel tense/ nervous

  • You may start to feel resentment towards others

  • Feelings of guilt may become overwhelming

  • You may feel more irritable

  • You may sense a ‘red mist’ coming over you


Understanding what anger feels like will help you recognise when you begin to feel angry. Now we know what our anger feels like we can take some much needed time to check in with ourselves before responding.


HOW TO CHECK IN


Breathe:

It’s simple but effective. Breathe deeply and slowly, counting five long breaths. If you practice any kind of mindfulness you could incorporate that into your breath, calming the mind.


Take yourself out of the situation:

If it’s a possibility, get away from whatever is creating anger for you. If you often find yourself getting angry in situations with others it may be worth practicing some ways in which you can politely excuse yourself from the situation.


Talk about it:

Often expressing your anger in a productive and articulate manner can help to defuse it. If the word anger seems to big or dramatic try using some of the below to express it:

  • Annoyed

  • Frustrated

  • Cross

  • Disappointed

  • Offended

  • Irritated

We have many wonderfully expressive words in English to describe our anger. I encourage you to find the ones that feel most natural to you.


All parts of ourselves are valid, no one emotion is better than the other. It’s important to remember your anger is an intrinsic part of who you are, and by making friends with it, by understanding it, you will massively improve how you respond to it. I can’t think how that could ever be a bad thing.


Remember, whatever you are going through you aren’t alone.



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