Anger is a disruptive, toxic state we experience that varies in intensity from mild irritation or frustration to intense rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. When you become angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as well as the levels of your energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.
Anger Management – Are you managing anger or is it managing you?
- Anger is a normal human emotion that provides information that all is not well in your life.
- Anger itself is not a problem.
- How it is expressed can be!
- It is important to learn how to manage anger wisely.
- What action (if any) is required to bring about change?
- Anger can render you unable to make appropriate choices.
- Anger can damage relationships if expressed inappropriately.
- Anger can damage your body if not handled well.
- Anger can raise your blood pressure.
- Anger can lead to reckless driving, endangering yourself and others.
- Anger if expressed with aggression can lead to trouble with the law.
- Anger when mixed with alcohol is a very toxic combination which often leads to trouble with the law, broken relationships, violence and so on.
Emotions can be addictive.
Although this topic is “anger management” it could also be “negative emotion management”. I say this because research now shows that all our emotions – negative or positive – can become addictive if repeated often enough over time.
As children we may hear something from our parents or school teacher that we take to heart. It may be a criticism or an injustice of any sort – it can be anything – that sets up a repetitive, reactive pattern in our bodies.
Emotions are our navigation system – Are we on track or way off?
Emotions are there for a reason. In themselves they are not a bad thing. Even anger, depression or anxiety come about to give us some valuable information about our life, how we are living it and/or managing it. Emotion may be generated from an internal trigger through our own thoughts or externally by an event that happens. It may be a car cutting in front of us or something someone says, either deliberately or unintentionally. An emotion is our body’s response to how our brain receives and interprets a stimulus – from either within or from without us. It is when we fail to recognise our emotion and explore what it is wanting us to do, that it becomes toxic and debilitating.
Setting up the addiction
“The very beauty of the stimulus and response shortcut is the very thing that seems to trap us. Instead of evaluating a truly new experience from a fresh perspective, we tend to assume it’s an experience we’ve already had.
When the same chemical events repeat themselves over and over again, the result is a cumulative emotional history. This history comes with identifiable patterns and predictable responses, which become embedded or “hardwired” in our brains.
That means our patterns and responses repeat without our having to think about them: stimulus-response-stimulus-response-stimulus-response. The survival shortcut mechanism becomes a trap into the same thing over and over.”
Source: William Arntz, Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente, in What the Bleep do we Know!?
Biological effects of anger addiction
According to research conducted by neuroscientist Dr Candace Pert, “The constant overuse of the chemicals required to produce a emotion, like anger, in the body result in desensitized receptor sites being created to adapt to all those anger neuropeptides. The cells are no longer getting a “well-balanced” meal, as they receive whatever emotion they are addicted to more than others, so they are left with having to get a narrower supply of nutrition. The more anger the personality creates, the more satiated the cell will feel."
Source: Candace Pert, Ph.D Molecules of Emotion
The power of the unconscious – Why we keep doing the same old, same old...
The nature of addiction explains why we keep doing the same old things over and over in spite of our many resolutions to change. The resolutions made on New Year’s Eve are made with the best of intentions at the time. However, our unconscious minds are 1,000,000 times more powerful than our conscious will to make changes according to Dr Bruce Lipton in Biology of Belief.
This is why we need to address our addictions on more than the conscious level. It is the reason many people feel “weak” or lacking in willpower when they are unable to change self-defeating patterns of behaviour. It really helps to know that it isn’t a matter of being weak-willed rather than of tackling a firmly entrenched programme that is far more powerful than any act of will-power on a conscious level. This means working with the unconscious mind directly through means such as hypnosis or energy psychology techniques.
I find EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) to be most effective for this purpose and is also a technique that can be used by anyone outside the therapist’s office.
Awareness and making changes
So in simple terms to make changes in behaviour that are causing difficulties:
- Become aware of what behaviour you would like to change – What happens in reaction to anger?
- Recognize the triggers and develop awareness of what happens in your body – What signs does your body show when anger is rising?
- Learn Emotional Freedom Techniques to release anger or other negative emotion as well as your addictive response.
When is anger a problem?
"Anger becomes a problem when it creates trouble for you with other people, your work, your health, day-to-day living or the law. Anger is also a problem when other people around you are frightened, hurt or feel they cannot talk to you or disagree with you in case you become angry. Some signs that anger is a problem are outlined here."
- "Anger involves verbal, emotional, physical or psychological abuse.
- You feel angry a lot of the time.
- People close to you are worried about your anger.
- Anger is leading to problems with personal relationships and work.
- You think you have to get angry to get what you want.
- Anger seems to get bigger than the event that set it off.
- Anger lasts for a long time, and well after the triggering event has passed.
- Anger affects other situations not related to the original event.
- You are becoming anxious or depressed about your anger.
- You are using alcohol or other drugs to try to manage your anger.
- You are getting angry with the people who are closest to you, or with people who are less powerful than you, rather than dealing with the situation that sparked off your anger in the first place."
Source and further information:
The Australian Psychological Society - Managing your anger
What is anger management?
"Anger management is about understanding your anger and why it happens. It is about learning and practising better ways of expressing anger, and knowing how to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Specifically, anger management is about knowing the triggers and early warning signs of anger, and learning techniques to calm down and manage the situation before it gets out of control."
The Australian Psychological Society - Managing your anger
How can counselling help you with your anger management?
Christine Bennett and Emily Dylan offer help through counselling and psychotherapy for people finding it difficult to manage anger. Christine finds that Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Ericksonian Hypnosis and lifestyle education can make a significant difference to improve mood. Emily utilises a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy approach and Positive Psychology techniques.