What Is Anger?
Anger is a natural emotion found in both humans and animals. It’s a reaction to an injury, insult or threat. We feel that we’ve been wronged somehow and this creates an unpleasant feeling that we react to.
Although it’s natural and completely healthy to become angry, there are times when it crosses the line into pure rage. This is when you lose it completely and act irrationally, saying or doing things that you later regret. Some people in particular have a problem with letting their anger get the best of them.
How You React to Anger
There are three different ways that you react to anger – physically, mentally and behaviorally.
The physical reaction is a shot of adrenaline that’s known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. You’ll feel a tensing of muscles and higher blood pressure.
For most of us, the mental reaction comes from the feeling that we’re threatened. When we’re wronged somehow, it threatens our sense of self-worth and rightness, and this causes us to think and feel certain things.
Behavioral reactions include everything you say or do in response to your physical and mental reactions. This includes raising your voice, slamming doors, straightening your back and punching pillows, not to mention all the words that are said. Behavioral responses are not all negative. They also include apologizing and acting on strategies to deal with anger.
Types of Anger
Psychologists have identified several different types of anger. They include:
Retaliatory Anger. Probably the most common type, this is when you react to someone else or something that happened to you.
Deliberate Anger. Deliberate anger is when anger is used as a weapon or an instrument of control. You use your anger to try to control others or keep them below you.
Passive Anger. This is when you use sarcasm or mockery to mask your real anger. Passive anger is most common among people who tend to avoid confrontation or who aren’t comfortable with their angry feelings.
Self-Inflicted Anger – Anger can be self-inflicted when you beat up on yourself. People may do this through injuring themselves, addictive behavior, drug abuse, negative self-talk and overeating.
Chronic Anger – This is anger at life in general which isn’t triggered by anything in particular. Most often, this is a form of self-inflicted anger. It causes lots of stress and is extremely unhealthy.
In addition to these different types, everyone’s anger is slightly different. Some get mad quickly while others are more patient. Some rarely if ever get mad while others do it many times throughout the day. Many people are uncomfortable with their angry feelings and find it hard to express them, bottling them up and living with this resentment for possibly years.
Anger and Physical Health
It’s important to remember that anger isn’t just mental. It can actually make you physically sick. Your body releases stress hormones when you get mad and these raise your heart rate and blood pressure, increasing your risk of getting a heart attack. Angry people are far more likely to develop a wide range of physical ailments and diseases.
Anger management teaches you to understand and deal with your anger effectively. It starts under a trained therapist’s direction. The therapist teaches you techniques to help you get it under control so that you can deal with it more productively. Once you master these techniques, you know how to stop anger before it gets the best of you.