Dr Coral Arvon


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Anger Management: The Two Faces of Anger

Some people might have trouble managing their anger and others have trouble expressing or letting it out. Everybody has a bully; it’s either in you or standing real close to you. Lets take a look and see how unpleasant emotions, like anger and fear can play havoc in our life. Sometimes it can be down right petrifying.

How do we define anger?

Anger is a strong, powerful emotion that can originate from feelings of disappointment, frustration, hurt, or annoyance. This emotion is one that we all experience from time to time. It can range from a petty irritation to strong feelings of rage. Angry feelings are influenced by emotional make-up, our view of the world, and what going on around a person.

Anger is a natural, healthy emotion that we all need to express. Sometimes, anger can become uncontrollable and harmful—and it can even lead to violent behavior. The problem is not the anger; it is the way we handle it. This can cause a breakdown in communication. Anger is a by-product of an underlying hurt we’re feeling deep down inside, probably experienced since childhood. Hence, this makes us more vulnerable to our current situation.

Do you remember when you were just a small child, 4-5 years old? Were you allowed to say you were angry or show anger? Were you told to go have cookies and milk or go in your room? Perhaps, your parent said “no you’re not, you’re just bored,” denying your feelings. Maybe anger and screaming was an everyday occurrence. That was the norm, the chaos in your house. Threatening feelings seemed to result from both external and internal events.

Examples of external triggers; could be a spouse’s lack of attention, a coworker’s slight remark, a teenager’s behavior outbursts, a traffic jam, the neighbor’s loud stereo, or even their dogs barking. Internal triggers include worrying or brooding about personal problems, feelings of not being good enough, not having a voice, or misperceptions and fearful thoughts.

Some more reasons for getting angry include the following;

Being physically or verbally assaulted
Feeling a hit to our self-esteem or our egos
Interruptions when focusing on a goal
Losing money on a bet
Someone defying or arguing about a principle that we consider important
Being treated unfairly or perceiving that we are and feeling powerless to change this
Feeling disappointed by someone else
If you’re explosive, you need to resolve this behavior because of the hostility it can cause to your relationship. One often denies that they even have a problem; they’ll justify their actions no matter what.

The two faces of anger; The Silent Stuffer and The Electric Explosive

Silent Stuffer

These people hide their real feelings, they will not admit that they are angry and have an even harder time expressing it. Minimizing their hurts and are reluctant to share with others. Why do stuffers stuff? There are many possible reasons:

They are uncomfortable with confrontation. There might have been a child in a family where anger was not allowed, kept feelings inside oneself, and the behavior continues. Feelings of shame and low self-esteem make them feel as if they’re not worthy of being heard and this fear inhibits their willingness to express anger to anyone. They have a need to feel safe and have the approval of others.

These people are usually the “victims.” They avoid conflict at any cost and are afraid to express any form of anger. Tending to keep their anger and resentment bottled up. This type of anger avoids issues and results in increased tension and a failure to resolve the situation. Some people display their anger in passive ways, such as through avoidance, arriving late or ignoring, sarcasm, and may experience a sense of revenge. They are called passive–aggressive types. These approaches do not directly resolve or confront the problem and are very difficult to change or even identify.

The Electric Explosive

The Electric Explosive needs to find a way to get rid of this behavior because of the bullish “in your face” hostile damage it can cause to your relationship. Sometimes they yell, usually don’t hit but will frequently be found standing, blocking the doorway. “I’m not done talking,” or “how dare you walk out on me.”

Some people are continuously angry, they don’t enjoy life, or other people, they appear to have a defensive approach, its everyone else’s fault. This response causes health problems and stress that often leads to headaches, ulcers, and heart disease.

How does anger affects the mind and body?

Anger gets the mind and body ready to take action, go into motion. It stimulates our nervous system, increasing the heart rate, blood pressure, and supplying blood flow to muscles, increases blood sugar levels, and the body’s ability to sweat. These physical changes are what happens during the fight or flight response.

While these physical changes are taking place, so are the thoughts in our mind. When a threat arises, anger helps us quickly translate complex information into simple terms like right or wrong. This is helpful in making quick decisions during an emergency (fight or flight), but it can also cause us to act impulsively without thinking through a situation. When anger interferes with rational thinking, we may act aggressively, propelled by our natural instinct to survive or protect someone from an impending threat. Some research suggests that inappropriately expressing anger can be harmful to your health. Long term and intense anger have been linked to mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression and self-harm. People, who have anger issues tend to make poor decisions, have risky behavior, and are more likely to have substance abuse problems. Also, pensive continuous anger is known to aggravate chronic pain disorders, leading to sleep difficulties, and or digestive problems. Research suggests that stress and hostility related to anger can lead to cancer, the flu, colds, and heart problems; such as heart attacks, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

What does anger look like?

Irritability and grumpiness are often signs of anger, as are withdrawing socially, sulking, or getting physically ill. It’s easy to identify someone as angry when they are screaming, cursing, and throwing things, but there are many other forms of anger.

As previously mentioned, when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones. People who have anger issues are usually well aware of it. Sometimes they feel their anger go from 1 to 100 instantly. Often behaving in ways that seem out of control and very frightening, they need to find help in dealing with these emotions as soon as possible. Anger issues usually get worse in time.

Ways to help people with their anger

Anger management treatment is the first response method. It is learning to recognize all the signs that you’re becoming angry, and to take action so that you can calm down and deal with the situation in a positive, healthy way. Anger management is about learning how to appropriately express yourself, especially your angry emotions. Learning what anger is and where your anger comes from is essential, identifying all of your possible triggers. Learning to recognize the mental and physical signs that you’re becoming angry is paramount. Then one needs to learn healthy, controlled ways to respond to their feelings.

It is important to remember to explore underlying feelings, such as sadness or depression, to resolve earlier issues.

How to control your anger and start to feel better

1. Take a timeout: Breathe and slow down. Think before reacting, take a moment or two and count to 10. Sometimes it is necessary to step away from the person or situation until your frustration subsides.

2. When calm, express your anger
by stating your concerns and needs clearly and directly. Don’t try to control or confront the other party or hurt them.

3. Exercise: As soon as you start to feel anger, before it explodes, take a walk, a long run or choose an activity that you enjoy doing. Stimulating your body and your brain will help you feeling happier, healthier and more relaxed.

4. Think before you speak: Before you say something, you’ll soon regret, press the pause button and hold off for a few minutes, collect your thoughts and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

5. Look for possible answers and solutions: We often focus on what made us mad or upset. Instead, assess the situation and remind yourself that anger isn’t the answer and won’t lead to a solution. In fact, it might make matters worse.

6. Use the word ‘I’ whenever possible: Blaming and criticizing the other person will only increase the angry feelings and tension. Instead, use “I” statements to describe the problem in a helpful, understanding, mutually accepting way. For example, you might say, “I’m upset that you didn’t take the dogs for a walk this morning,” instead of, “You never take the dogs for a walk.”

7. Self-talk: Instead of saying, “I’m worthless” or I can’t control myself,” use the third party. “Joe, you can’t control yourself” rather than “I can’t control myself.” This will help you create distance from the emotion, it will help you think more clearly and rationally. You will see the situation a bit differently.

8. Forgiveness: Don’t let anger and other negative feelings crowd out the positive ones. Avoid being swallowed up by bitterness or sense of injustice. It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to behave exactly as you want at all times.

9. Use humor: Be funny, silly and lighten up. Easing up on the situation can help diffuse tension. However, avoid using sarcasm as it can hurt feelings and make matters worse.

10. Meditation and relaxation skills: Practice deep-breathing exercises, guided imagery (imagine a relaxing scene), or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as, “Be calm, easy does it.” Dance, listen to your favorite music, write in your daily journal or stretch the body for a while.

11. Practice good self-care: Eating healthily, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, making time for fun, seeking connection with others, and growing spiritually

12. Seek help from an expert on anger: Learning to control anger is very challenging but is imperative for a happy, calm life. Consider seeking help if you are hurting yourself or others, or if your anger seems out of control and you are often regretting your actions. Or seek help if all this anger is just making you plain miserable!

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