Do you have an anger problem? If you are reading this article it is probably because you have recognised that you have a problem with anger, or somebody else has told you that you have. Some people shout or throw things, others seethe quietly; whatever your way is of feeling angry, we can help. We provide individual counselling for men and women to help them understand and manage their anger more effectively.
Is it wrong to get angry?
Everyone feels angry from time to time. It is not usually the feeling that is problematic, but how people behave when they feel angry that causes problems. Most people can feel annoyance or frustration and still behave in a deliberate, appropriate manner. But the more intense the feeling, the harder it is to control your behaviour.
Most people are troubled not when they feel angry, but when they lose control. Losing control might mean you shout or say things you later regret; at its worst you might get physically out of control and break things, hurt others, or hurt yourself.
Anger is often considered a ‘bad’ emotion and subsequently people sometimes wish they didn’t feel it or try to hide it when it happens. It is helpful to remember that sometimes anger is a normal, healthy response that serves a purpose. We would not have got far on the evolutionary path without it. For example:
- Anger protects you from threats – e.g. will help fend off an attack
- Informs you when something is wrong – e.g. when someone takes advantage of you
- Gets attention at important times – e.g. when your kids are about to do something dangerous
- Helps you learn – e.g. “I won’t let that happen again”
So, anger can be an appropriate response to a threatening situation.
Anger can be subjective
What constitutes anger can be quite subjective. Internally, what one person feels as passion another might describe as feeling angry. From the outside, explosive anger is clear to all, whilst milder anger can be read different ways.
A significant influence to how people perceive anger is the environment they come from. For example, if you grew up in a family where nobody ever got angry it may be quite disconcerting to see others get heated. Conversely, someone coming from a family where boisterous interactions were commonplace will likely take longer before they become concerned.
It feels justified in the moment, but regretful afterwards
Like most strong emotions, anger changes the way you think and can make it difficult to see things objectively. When you are in a situation that has made you angry, your primitive survival instincts have kicked in. When this happens you are usually reacting automatically to a perceived threat without much time for thought. This is great when you really are threatened, but not so great when your survival mechanism has been triggered too soon and goes into hyper-alert. When this happens you suddenly feel much angrier than the situation demands and by the very nature of the survival instinct inside you, reasoning goes out the window and anger dominates. At these moments it is very difficult to see things clearly and no matter how inappropriate your anger might be, it feels justified in that moment.
Anger is often a normal response to a situation in which you perceive a threat to yourself or to someone you care about. However, sometimes people get angry in ways that do not seem to fit the situation and they find it hard to regulate their strong feelings and control their behaviour. Often this is because anger can get triggered so quickly that it has exploded before you even know it. Even when you can feel your anger building there is often no stopping it and out it comes before your very eyes, much like watching a movie that is out of your control.
Is your anger a problem?
The key thing here is not proving whether or not you are angry, but understanding how your way of interacting affects those around you. So, even if you don’t think there is an issue, if other people keep telling you they are uncomfortable with the way you behave then it might pay to reflect and try to understand yourself better and see what all the fuss is about. There may be different ways of expressing yourself that don’t cause alarm in others.
Anger can be a symptom of underlying issues
As mentioned, anger can be a normal, valid response to a situation. However, anger can also be a symptom of underlying issues such as stress, depression, or unresolved feelings such as grief, guilt or shame. When these conditions exist they can often manifest as angry outbursts that seem inappropriate to the situation. In these cases the underlying issue needs to be addressed rather than the anger.
How we can help you manage your anger
- We can help you recognise what is appropriate and what is inappropriate anger.
- We can help you understand your own warning signs (e.g. increased heart rate, shaking hands, muscle tension) so that you regulate your feelings and reactions more effectively.
- We can help you learn better communication skills so that you can express how you feel in a more effective, less threatening way.
- We can help you understand and work through underlying feelings that may contribute to your anger.
- We can help you see more clearly what your triggers are so that you can avoid or preempt situations that might be provocative.
If you think you have a problem with anger, or if other people are telling you that you do, get in touch and find out if we can help.