Anger is a common human emotion that arises when we are upset by life circumstances, difficulties in relationships, and frustrating inconveniences.
Because the emotions and physical feelings of anger are so strong (and so often negative), it can be hard to know what to do with your anger. But anger is not a feeling you have to be afraid of. There are ways to understand and manage it.
Not everyone gets angry for the same reasons, but there are some common threads behind what drives anger for most people.
Pain: Pain and anger fuel one another. Very often, anger issues develop after abuse, or some other trauma you’ve experienced (neglect, assault, abandonment, etc.)
Sense of Injustice: This is one of the most common sources of anger. When you feel that you or someone you care about have been treated unfairly, anger is often a natural consequence.
Grieving: Grief after a loss often includes anger because you’re upset that someone you love can no longer be with you, or because you feel like your life will never be the same (i.e. after losing a job or ending a relationship).
Toxic Forms of Anger
Once you better understand your anger, it’s important to put healthy boundaries on your feelings (and how you express them) so that your anger doesn’t contribute to abusive or toxic relationships. Be on your guard against feelings like:
Bitterness: Becoming bitter is resigning yourself to your anger, and convincing yourself that nothing about your life or your emotions can change for the better. The resulting jealousy and resentment may keep you from forming new relationships.
Hatred: Anger shifts to hatred when you desire that the people who hurt you also experience pain or are “paid back” for what they’ve done. There’s little room for forgiveness and healing when people hate one another.
Rage: Rage is the point when anger causes people to lose control and cause pain to others by harming them verbally, emotionally, or physically. If you’ve damaged property or valuables (throwing or breaking things, punching walls, etc.), or feel as though fights with someone have gotten out of control, it’s time to get help with your anger.
Healthy Anger Management
Learning healthy ways to manage your anger keeps it from controlling you and prevents harm to yourself and others.
Don’t Ignore It: It’s okay to express your anger to a mentor, therapist, or trusted friend. Asking for help and support can help lessen the intensity of your emotions and lead to healthier coping strategies.
Find an Outlet: Sometimes you just need a break from thinking about the person or situation making you angry. A healthy outlet (exercise, prayer, meditation, or creative expression) can help with relaxing some of the intense physical feelings that accompany anger.