What anger says about us

5 min read
Louise halimi

Anger is part of the panel of our emotions.

Physically, it is characterized by:

  • increased heart rate, muscle tension,
  • rapid breathing,
  • increased gesticulation
  • a decrease in our reasoning ability when it occurs,
  • and possibly the appearance of redness and sweating.

In itself, anger is not reprehensible. It is a protective reaction, in response to a threat or an attack. It can even prevent aggression or an escalation towards violence.

But when it occurs disproportionately, repeatedly or threateningly to others (accompanied by verbal and/or physical violence), it must be questioned.

It is important to clearly distinguish between anger, which is a protective reflex, and violence, which is a desire for destruction. Thus, anger does not excuse violence.

Anger is like a valve that hides other emotions. The main reasons for anger are:

  • the fear
  • humiliation
  • deprivation, injustice
  • frustration, an inability to control the situation or know what to do
  • jealousy or envy
  • being bothered by the behavior of others
  • refusal to accept certain facts
  • lack of confidence and/or skills

Anger is promoted by:

  • tiredness
  • personal problems, anxiety
  • a traumatic experience, unresolved emotional issues

If we get angry, it is because at that moment, the context in which we find ourselves seems bad for us. It makes us feel insecure, even unloved. Getting angry indicates that there is a need that is not being met. It is a form of protest, and a way of telling the other, to take us into account.

It is important to be attentive to the situations (places, people, circumstances) that make us angry, in order to be able to initiate behaviors, actions, to ensure that the world around us can be more in line with our needs, while respecting those of others. Communication therefore plays a central role in responding to anger.

Being angry often, without a real and serious cause, is a behavioral problem that can generate a lot of frustration, and lead to estrangement from others.

Getting angry doesn't make you feel better. In itself, this does not provide a solution. Very often, this even generates more frustration, due, for example, to the misunderstanding of our reactions by those around us (reactions experienced as disproportionate). This can evolve and have serious consequences on our surroundings, and on oneself (aggressiveness, physical violence, feeling even worse).

Frequent bouts of anger damage relationships but also increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Additionally, many people struggling with anger issues turn to drugs or alcohol to deal with their emotions, which eventually worsens their mental and physical well-being and can lead to addiction.

It is possible to give a constructive follow-up to your anger, by questioning its causes and its expression. In a couple or team situation, it is important to talk about it to avoid creating frustrations, a loss of confidence or misunderstandings that could evolve into more serious situations.

Working to understand where anger comes from will make it possible to control it, then to no longer feel it, and thus to find serenity in our relationships with others. This will also prevent anger from escalating into repeated violent behavior.

It will be a question, for example, of questioning why a situation, seeing a person, annoys us. We cannot change the way of thinking, of reacting of others, in order to control our anger, but we can work on understanding and changing our reaction.

Learning to express your emotions can also help avoid accumulating frustrations that will turn into an outburst of anger.

Accept that our environment and the people around us are beyond our control.

Balancing the expectations you have of situations or about others. For example, we act according to our values, but we don't have to impose them on others and expect them to do everything like us.

Listing the situations and subjects that make us angry allows us to anticipate our reaction when one of these events occurs.

When one of the situations arises, one can try to control his emotion. We can anticipate this approach by looking for actions that will help us control our anger and prevent us from becoming aggressive. It is a question of becoming aware of the disproportion of our reaction and of finding an attitude adapted to the situation. It's hard to practice at first, but it's worth trying to reduce the frequency and intensity of anger. Here are some ideas to practice:

  • distract our attention: recite the alphabet backwards or mentally count to 10
  • promote a return to calm: focus on your breathing and do the exercise to slow it down
  • prepare a list of phrases that calm us down. If you start to feel angry, repeat the phrase to yourself until you calm down.
  • if you feel yourself losing control, move away to calm yourself down and avoid becoming aggressive
  • move on to another activity (go for a walk, play sports, draw, take a shower, call a loved one) to clear your mind. Do not resume discussion and management of the problem until you have completely calmed down (wait at least 45 minutes).

Anger management is very difficult without outside help. If you often feel angry, and it affects your relationships, discuss these events with a therapist. This will help you analyze situations as rationally as possible and understand your reactions. It will help you change the way you think and perceive things (cognitive reconstruction). Like avoiding attributing intentions, or thoughts to others to justify disproportionate reactions. Or learning to put yourself in the shoes of others and imagine what emotions we would go through if we lived what the other lives. You will be able to work on creating a happier and more peaceful life for yourself and those around you.

To sum up, it's about understanding the reasons for your anger, relearning how to communicate (listening, expressing yourself) and putting anger back in its rightful place in the panel of our emotions. That is, expressing anger when we are threatened and without violence.

Photo by Andre Hunter