Anger Management
Anybody can become angry - But to be angry..... at the right time and for the right purpose is not within everybody’s power.
- Aristotle

Anger is a natural reaction - it is normal to feel angry at times and we feel anger as a part of the stress response known as ‘The Fight or Flight response’. The Fight of flight response is a stress response - it can also make you freeze in a situation. When the response is activated adrenalin is released into the body which makes your heart beat faster and results in you feeling agitated. Anger makes us feel strong and powerful.
Many people are uncomfortable with expressing their anger and at times can fear it and therefore may minimise it or suppress it. This tends to distort anger which can be destructive - this can result in sarcasm, verbal abuse, revenge, hostility, racism etc. or turned inwardly it can result in self criticism, self harm, abuse of alcohol or drugs, self medicating or suicide and as a result both personal well being and relationships with others are affected.

Imagine if someone has just stolen from you - your wallet or your handbag, and you feel angry this is a natural response, Anger is a reaction to situations beyond our control it can be triggered by not achieving a goal, invasion of privacy, protecting your boundaries or defending ourselves or loved ones. Anger can also be used to mask feelings such as shame, guilt or embarrassment.
Anger helps us to define values and boundaries and manage disputes.

Anger is part of the “Fight or Flight Stress Response” defined by Cannon (1920). Canon discovered that we have an intrinsic reaction when we feel at risk, threatened or stressed. Anger is The Fight Response - where we deem the need to fight our corner. As a response to this we have several bodily responses alerted by our five senses. We may hear, see, feel, smell or taste something that alerts us and makes us angry. Messages are relayed by our senses to the brain where adrenalin is released into our body, This raises our heart beat and pushes the blood around our bodies quicker to oxygenate our muscles which become tense. Insulin releases glucose to energise the body (which is why angry stressed people are susceptible to diabetes) Eyes widen to ensure you observe details in your environment.
Being angry is natural and as children we should learn to express our anger appropriately and express ourselves assertively.

So where does it go wrong?
Children are often told not to be angry and learn to squash down their feelings of anger and pretend everything is ok. Alternatively adults who have grown up in families where there was a lot of shouting or uncontrolled anger also suppress their anger as they do not want to lose control of their anger as they fear their own anger - lest it becomes out of control. It can be very frightening for a child witnessing adult anger and at times they resolve never to behave in the same way. As a result people try to contain their anger and smother it or suppress it so as not to be like their parents or caregivers. But the more they try to contain or suppress their anger the more likely they are to have outbursts of rage. Confirming they are just like their parent /parents/ caregivers. Containing anger is similar to a pressure cooker which gets hotter and hotter until the steam bursts out, for example - ‘road rage’ or losing control at petty situations, shouting at cold callers. These are often a result of suppressed anger whereby anger is directed at the wrong person at the wrong time which happens as a result of not addressing issues as they arise.
Suppressing anger can also result in behaviours such as passive aggressiveness, vengefulness, sarcasm, cheating, spite and violence. Passive aggression is masked anger when we avoid managing the issue that is upsetting - whilst avoiding direct conflict but using spiteful, sarcastic, vengeful or aggressive behaviours towards others instead. Revenge is a behaviour where we want to hurt the other person as much as they have hurt us. To justify our own behaviour - we consider our opinion as being right and want justice when we feel wronged.

Anger is often a reaction to a more painful feeling that gets masked by anger. Anger is a more powerful reaction to feeling unpleasant feelings. Anger can manifest itself when we are disappointed, scared, embarrassed, ashamed, rejected or feeling guilty.

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Suppressed anger when suppressed can turn into depression. At times individuals may use different behaviours to manage intense feelings and may revert to self harm. There are many different types of self harm such as :

  • Cutting
  • Impact Hurting, punching kicking slapping
  • Carving - symbols or words into the body
  • Interfering with the healing process of the wounds you already have
  • Hair pulling - trichotillomania this behaviour may extend beyond hair pulling but may also result pulling out eyebrows and eyelashes
  • Burning, cigarettes, central heating radiators, lighters candles
  • Alcohol and Drug Abuse - Binge Drinking and Addiction
  • Eating Disorders - over eating or starving as well as purging behaviours
  • Sex Addiction
  • Accepting abuse in any way

Anger management helps you to break down your aggressive behaviours and reflect on the consequences of past behaviours. This helps you to reevaluate your behaviour and assess whether the consequences of anger creates. Create a pros and cons list - how does it help you to be angry - what does it cost you? Anger can take from you the trust of others, people may fear you, it contributes to breakdowns in relationships. You may have lost of jobs/work, contracts or work colleagues, because you have not managed your anger.

Therapy helps you to understand your anger - to get to know how it works, start identifying triggers that lead you to anger, start identifying physical cues that warn you the you are angry such as rapid or deep breathing, or is your heart beating faster? and find ways to help you to remain calm, try to consciously slow down your breathing. Learn to address issues before they become out of control and become more assertive instead of being angry. Resilience training also helps you to be able to bounce back after incidents that have made you angry instead of ruminating on the event and plotting revenge. Anger is human given - we all experience it - but at times we need help to manage it.

Trust is often broken as a result of anger, vengeful behaviours or passive aggressiveness. When trust is broken it is difficult to return to the previous status quo. Trust diminishes each time a person feels abused.

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