Don’t let society tell you otherwise. Anger is perfectly natural. If you’ve been wronged or hurt in some way and feel anger as a response – that is okay. It’s your prerogative as a human being to feel whatever way you feel. Doing so is healthy. What has the potential to not be natural or healthy is how you deal with it, and what your response is.
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Where anger comes from
The interesting thing about anger is its not actually a primary emotion. In fact, we’ve talked about this before in Choosing Love Over Fear, our emotions boil down to one of two triggers: love and fear. The secondary response to choosing one of those can be anger.
Now let me take that a step further. It seems obvious, if you choose fear as your main emotional response, then anger can be a natural secondary. But what if I told you, it could be perfectly natural attached the love as well? Think about it. Love is insanely powerful, and controls everything we do. Loving something or someone so fiercely that when that person or thing hurts you, you may feel angry.
The common misconception is anger is evil, only the villains feel it. However that couldn’t be further from the truth, and constantly pretending to be perfect and better than everyone else and not getting angry when you deserve to feel that way must be exhausting! The truth is, anger as a feeling as NORMAL and HEALTHY. Pretending it doesn’t exist is NOT healthy. The only thing that makes someone a villain for being angry, is simply their response to it.
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how anger works from a scientific standpoint
But let’s back up for a moment. Anger, as with all emotions, starts in the brain. When an event triggers this part of the brain, it releases stress hormones that begin to flood your body with adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. When your body becomes flooded with these chemicals it causes us to go into fight or flight mode. Our bodies literally begin to change: raised blood pressure, accelerated heart beat, heightened senses, even red faces! The reason for this is because the body is preparing you (physically) for a fight!
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when anger turns to violence
Now it makes sense why this could potentially cause a physical reaction such as hitting, but there is definitely more to it than that. A whole other part of your brain is happily holding your judgement and impulse control. When adrenaline floods this area, these spike causing you to balance the emotions with the physical response. So why do some people automatically jump to aggression, and others do not? This is due to the time it takes for the chemicals to hit the different areas of your body. If the impulse to hit is spiked before the brain has a chance to listen to reason, your body reacts first.
A huge part of this timing has to do with things you can’t control: genetics, and the initial trigger to begin with. But that doesn’t mean hope is lost.
Anger Management Techniques
Now it’s time to find healthier ways to express your anger as opposed to aggression, violence or potentially hurting someone you love verbally. Here are a few ways you can teach yourself to release anger instead:
- Walk away the minute things get heated and come back later with a calm head to discuss. I personally recommend communicating that when possible to avoid trigger the other persons anger, and hopefully the other individual will respect that. Here are some healthy ways to deal:
-Exercise: exercise allows you to physically blow of steam in a healthy way! Running, walking, lifting weights, swimming etc. are all great ways to physically get it out of your system.
–Write it out: writing out your emotions is a great way to clear your head and be organize your emotions so you can calmly approach the subject later.
-Yoga: Similar to exercise, but not only allows you to get your anger out in a physical way, but to understand your emotions in a mental and spiritual way as well.
-Support Buddy: A support buddy is someone you can run to when emotions are heightened and they can listen to you get it out in an impartial, unbiased way. Once you’ve gotten it off your chest they may even be able to provide a fresh perspective to better understand it. This could be a best friend, a family member, or a therapist!
-Meditation: Get some calm quiet alone time and let yourself focus only on breathing to release the tension.
-Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This is a unique way of massaging each area of your body while getting in touch with the emotions and tension in each area. It helps you control the tension and ultimately release it from your body and mind!
- If you can’t walk away, close your eyes, take a deep breath and hold it. Then focus only on breathing. Count to 10, or 30 or even 60 if that’s what you need to do to calm yourself. Regulated breathing forces the adrenaline the recede.
- When responding to events, stick to “I feel…” statements. This focuses the conversation on perspectives and can help diffuse situations where people may feel attacked or get defensive.
- In a last ditch effort, it may not work in every situation – but a little humor can go a long way in lightening a mood!
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The danger of repressed anger
Often people find themselves thinking if they just ignore anger, they can go on with their lives. Many romantic couples find themselves in a fight, walking away and then coming back together later without discussing it, only to relive it again later. There are many dangers to ignoring anger, and fights returning is only the beginning of it!
By discussing the issue as soon as you comfortably can, you can lose the stress and heavy emotions entirely. You can work towards making sure it doesn’t happen again, and your relationships will be stronger for it.
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However, not dealing with the issues can cause even more problems than just the initial issue such as:
- Heart problems
- Back Pain
- along with a host of other physical issues that may ultimately shorten your life span!
Dealing with anger response in a healthy way has far better outcomes than ignoring the emotion all together, or releasing your anger in a terrifying, life altering way. It may not happen overnight, but choose a couple methods to focus on and test it out next time something triggers your anger! I promise your friends, family and yourself will thank you for trying!