Dealing with Anger in Our Modern Society
Dealing with anger: What is it? Where does it come from?
with anger is something we all have to learn and cope with, and may be anything
from a minor annoyance to a psychotic rage. It is usually a healthy, completely
normal emotion, that may be a helpful sign that an emotional or physical
violation has occurred that may be necessary for us to pay attention to and/or
respond. Nature seems to have provided us with an awareness of potentially
harmful threats to our physical and emotional well-being, and an appraisal
system which functions to a large degree on
an unconscious level, assessing
potentially damaging stimuli or threats, activating an arousal of our autonomic
nervous system, and resulting in a response to preserve our well-being. Our
personal abilities in dealing with anger may determine our ability to function
in society, hold onto a job, maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and
ultimately have a significant effect on our entire life.
Like most emotions, anger is accompanied by physiological and
biological changes including an increase in heart rate and blood pressure,
increases in hormonal energy levels, adrenaline and noradrenaline. In terms of
“primitive functioning”, it prepares us for “fight or flight“.
When dealing with anger, it is important to understand that
both internal and external events may be responsible for its occurrence. You may
be upset at a neighbor or co-worker for something they said or did not say, or
may have an internal origin such as worrying or brooding about your own personal
problems. Memories of hurtful or traumatic events may sometimes trigger anger.
Many people believe that the natural way to express anger is
through aggression. While it is true that it is a natural, adaptive response to
threats, and that it motivates a powerful reaction that sometimes may be
necessary to preserve our emotional or physical well-being, it frequently
results in a reaction that is out of proportion or not an accurate reflection of
People use a variety of both unconscious and conscious
processes in dealing with anger. Researchers have found at the three main
approaches to dealing with anger include expressing, suppressing, and calming.
Expressing your anger in an assertive, direct, specific way, is probably the
healthiest way of expressing your anger. You need to make it clear what your
needs are and how to get them met without hurting others. Being assertive does
not mean being demanding and not respecting and showing consideration for
another person’s feelings or needs, however.
Many people suppress anger, and then convert and redirect it.
Frequently this happens when people deny it or attempt to stop thinking about
it, and try to focus
on something else. Obviously the objective is in these
circumstances to suppress the anger and convert it into more constructive
behavior. The problem is that denial of these feelings and the allowance of an
outward expression may lead to the anger being turned inward to be expressed at
a later point in time, or in an inappropriate way. Also, suppressed anger has
been found to have a high correlation with hypertension, high blood pressure and
depression. It can also lead to pathological expressions such as
passive-aggressive behavior (getting back people indirectly) or affect the
personality by causing the person to become cynical and hostile.
However, you can calm down inside. This doesn’t mean just
controlling your outward behavior, but also controlling your internal responses
and consciously forcing yourself to relax, taking steps to lower your heart
rate, and letting the angry feelings subside.
Finally, sometimes it may be necessary to get some additional
assistance in learning specific techniques of anger management.
Information and webpage by
Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist)
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