Anger is a normal emotion, especially when you witness or experience injustice. It becomes an issue only when your responses are disproportionate to the incidents that trigger them, it impacts your relationships, and/or it seems out of control.
Studies have shown that uncontrolled anger can lead to cardiovascular disease, eating disorders, diabetes, and road accidents. Furthermore, it can disrupt your day-to-day life, jeopardize your relationships, create conflicts at work, cause harm to loved ones, and/or affect your mental health.
Excessive anger can be off-putting. It can cause family, friends, and co-workers to distance themselves from you, and turning you into an unwelcome presence wherever you go.
What anger feels like.
As described by Christian Counselors, Anger can feel like a surge of energy that leaves you feeling hot and agitated. Your face may feel flushed, your palms become sweaty, your muscles tense, your head feels achy, and you may subconsciously clench your teeth, fists, or jaw. You may also feel shaky, dizzy, and lightheaded, and experience tightness in your chest accompanied by a rapidly beating heart and a rise in blood pressure.
Emotionally, anger may run the gamut from feeling irritated, guilty, or frustrated, to feeling anxious or sad.
Anger may manifest as a strong urge to lash out at someone or something.
Types of anger issues.
Outward anger is a visible form of anger that anyone can see or hear. It is expressed verbally or physically toward other people and includes aggressive behavior such as yelling, cursing, throwing or breaking things, and/or acts of violence.
Inward anger is directed internally toward yourself. It can include negative self-talk or denying yourself things you enjoy, or even basic needs such as food and water, to punish yourself.
Passive anger is a subtle, indirect way of expressing anger that is also known as passive-aggressive behavior. It may be difficult to identify because it tends to be repressed and doesn’t always come across as anger.
When directed toward others it can include actions such as sarcasm, saying hurtful things that you play off as a joke, deliberately being late, or giving people the silent treatment. When directed toward yourself, passive anger can manifest as self-defeating, sabotaging behaviors that other people notice, but you can’t explain.
Signs of anger issues.
You always feel angry about something.
Anger seems to be part of your personality, an ever-present mood rather than a feeling you experience from time to time. Even small, petty things may lead to meltdowns or angry outbursts that are out of proportion to the issue that caused them. You may frequently get into heated arguments that spin out of control.
You think in black-and-white terms.
You tend to think in absolutes such as nobody, everybody, always, and never. This leads you to experience your emotions in an overly dramatized “all or nothing” kind of way that is often irrational and out of touch with the reality of the situation.
You blame others for your problems.
Instead of considering how you may have contributed to a situation, you try to justify your angry feelings by automatically looking for someone or something to blame.
You hold on to grudges and resentments.
When something upsets you, you have trouble letting it go and tend to allow your anger to fester for a long time. You may also be prone to violent thoughts and find yourself ruminating on ways to hurt yourself or the people in your life who have aroused your anger.
You have trouble controlling your emotions.
Your mind tends to race, making it difficult for you to express yourself in a calm, healthy way. When you are angry, you don’t stop to think before you speak or act. You may frequently feel regret over things you have impulsively said or done in the heat of the moment.
You need to be in control.
You have rigid ideas about the way things should and shouldn’t be and have trouble compromising or coming to mutual agreements with anyone else.
You have trouble accepting feedback.
When someone tries to give you feedback about something you are quick to assume they are criticizing you and to feel wronged or disrespected.
You are prone to road rage.
Your temper blazes every time you’re behind someone who is not moving fast enough for you on the road or who cuts you off in traffic.
You feel hatred toward yourself.
You are haunted by past mistakes and failures and have trouble forgiving yourself.
You may seek comfort from drugs or alcohol.
Substances such as drugs or alcohol can become a crutch to numb your angry feelings.
Tips to help you address your anger issues.
Think before you act.
Instead of saying or doing the first thing that comes to mind, take a deep breath, slowly count to ten, or distance yourself by walking away to give yourself time to calm down and think about the situation before reacting to it. It is hard to make good decisions in the heat of the moment. Taking a time out helps ease the tension and can give you a chance to organize your thoughts and regain your composure.
Constructively express your anger.
State your concerns, feelings, and frustrations respectfully in a clear, calm, non-confrontational manner. Use “I” statements and focus on how you feel instead of pointing fingers or making accusations.
Focus on potential solutions.
Instead of focusing on the problem, look for a resolution to whatever is causing your anger. Try to be realistic about what you can and cannot change and remind yourself that anger will only make things worse.
Be willing to forgive. Being willing to forgive and let go of grudges can dramatically reduce your feelings of anger.
Empathize with the person who made you angry.
Trying to walk in the other person’s shoes and see the situation from their perspective may help you gain a new understanding of the issue that helps decrease your anger.
Use humor to release tension.
Finding something you can laugh about (without being sarcastic or hurting anyone’s feelings) can go a long way in decreasing the intensity of the moment, and even helping you see the issue from a different perspective.
Engage in physical activity.
Going for a run, or a walk, or engaging in some form of physical exercise when you feel anger start to build up can help defuse it. Studies have shown that physical activity causes the body to release powerful stress-relieving endorphins that help improve mood.
Focusing on what’s good in your life even when everything feels wrong can help diminish your anger and help you see things from a different perspective.
Use calming techniques.
Techniques such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and progressive muscle relaxation can help calm your body and regulate your nervous system, disrupting the anger signals before they reach the boiling point.
Journaling about your anger.
Writing about the things that made you angry, what you felt, why you felt them, and how you responded and/or would have liked to respond, can help you process your anger and gain insight into triggers, warning signs, and patterns.
A trained Mental Health Christian Counselor can help you understand the causes of your anger, identify the triggers that set it off, and equip you with coping skills to manage it healthily.
If you suspect you have anger issues, please know you don’t have to struggle with them on your own. Just give us a call, and one of our faith-based counselors will be happy to answer your questions and/or set up an appointment to meet with you.
“Enraged”, Courtesy of Nsey Benajah, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Surrounded by Books”, Courtesy of Lacie Slezak, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Exclamation”, Courtesy of Muhammad Daudy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Knock Down Drag Out”, Courtesy of Afif Kusuma, Unsplash.com, CC0 License