by Catherine Pratt
Do you find yourself getting angry with people all the time?
It can be frustrating and often you'll feel bad afterwards for having been so out of control with your anger. But, you don't know why you do it or how to control it. So, where to start?
A great place to start when trying to gain control over your temper is figuring out the real feeling behind the emotion. So, the next time you get angry with someone, take a step back and ask yourself, "Why am I so angry?" What's really going on here?
If you answer something like, "I'm so angry because my friend didn't do what I told him to" you're not digging deep enough. The other person is just a trigger for your emotion. They do something and you feel an emotion in response (anger). That's what you need to figure out. It's your reaction that's important, not what the other person actually did. A situation just "is" until you give it meaning. Something happens and you make the decision (whether you're conscious of the decision or not) as to whether it's "good", "bad" or "neutral". And, that decision is often based on an emotional response. So, you just need to figure out why you're choosing the anger as your response.
The reason why you choose anger can be for quite a few different reasons but this is what you need to figure out. You need to know where your anger is really coming from.
Anger can be a tricky emotion because it's often covering up other issues. Anger is used as a sort of mask. It covers up the true feelings like fear, jealousy, frustration, or annoyance. It's a way of dealing with the situation when you haven't processed the real feelings behind it.
There's always something behind anger. Anger doesn't really come by itself. It's always attached to another emotion. In that sense, anger could be thought of as an intermediate emotion. An event happens, the brain doesn't have time (or doesn't want to) to fully process the situation and it needs a reaction, so anger is what's used until there's more time to examine everything in more detail.
To help you figure out what your true emotions might be behind why you're feeling so angry, here are 12 different reasons and emotions that could be happening:
Anger is often caused by fear. Something happens and it scares you in some way. You fear losing control, looking foolish, being in trouble, or maybe even getting hurt. Your anger is in response to being afraid of something. It's that whole fight or flight concept happening. Anger is the fighting back at what scares you. So, ask yourself if you're really feeling afraid and what is it that scares you the most?
For more information on dealing with deal fear, check out the following:
There's a great quote which says, "Anger is a chosen response to the feeling of powerlessness. Anger is how we attempt to reassert control over situations that baffle us." So, you may be feeling helpless or like a victim with something and you use anger to try and regain some sort of control in your life.
Something to watch out for this one is that you could be feeling powerless in one situation and it will cause you to react with anger at anyone who upsets you. For example, say you have a health issue and you're feeling frustrated because you can't get in to see the specialist. So, you feel powerless in this situation, probably also a little scared and frustrated. That's the feeling percolating in the back of your mind and you need a way to release that so as soon as someone or something annoys you, all your pent up feelings are vented on that person. They may have absolutely nothing to do with why you're feeling powerless. They're simply a handy way to release all those negative feelings you've bottled up.
So, if you find yourself over reacting to situations, check and see if you're feeling powerless in a different situation. Again, you're figuring out where your real anger is coming from.
For more information on dealing with feeling powerless, check out the following:
If you're feeling frustrated with something in your life, you might respond with anger. You're just so frustrated with something that you're annoyed and angry. For example when you're learning something new like a software program. You just want the program to do something and it's so frustrating because you don't know how to get the software to do that. So, you're feeling impatient and you respond by getting angry at the computer or the program.
Or if you're stuck in a traffic jam and you're frustrated because there's nothing you can do. This one can also be caused by fear though. You fear that you're going to be late due to the traffic jam and your imagination starts going wild with all the bad things that are now going to happen (eg. lose your job because you're going to be late or someone is going to be mad at you, etc.) But, the anger starts with feeling frustrated or powerless with the situation. You don't know what to do.
To deal with this one, it can help if you take a step back and just look at the big picture again. What do I want to achieve in this situation? How can I do that? rather than focusing on the obstacle or thing that's frustrating you.
For more information on dealing with anger due to frustration, check out the following:
Often anger is associated with pain from the past. A traumatic experience happened in the past that the person has never really dealt with. Abuse as a child for example or feeling abandoned as a child. In this case, often the anger isn't even associated with the current event the person is experiencing. The person is just so angry at the entire world due to something that happened a long time ago. They hit out at everyone they come into contact with due to the constant pain they have deep inside. Or they feel so hurt that they don't want to let anyone come close to them. They use the anger as a way of protecting themselves from further hurt. Or a situation happens and it reminds them of that event that happened a long time ago and they automatically react with anger.
Another reason could be because you're dealing with grief. Grief is an overwhelming, heartbreaking emotion and it's one of the hardest human emotions to deal with. The death of someone you love and care about is confusing and more painful than anything else you can experience in the world. So, it's normal to react with anger sometimes when you're coping with grief.
Grief isn't always about losing someone you love. You can also feel grief when you lose what was or what could have been. For example, when an athlete experiences a career ending injury, they'll grieve for the life they expected to have. Or when a woman learns she's unable to get pregnant, she'll grieve for the loss of being able to be a mother. You can even experience grief when you move to another country or culture or even across town. It's mourning the loss of the life you once knew. It can also occur when any relationship ends. Or you may grieve that a relationship or situation isn't working out the way you imagined it would. You may even grieve the ending of a routine or ritual you had. You may be grieving for the life you once had or the life you hoped to have. Grief is a very personal thing and it's important to acknowledge your feelings. Grief is simply mourning the loss of something that was important to you. Taylor Joy Murray has an article explaining the grief she went through when moving to another country on her site and the 5 steps she used to walk through her grief. She also has a good article on 7 ways people deal with this type of grief (stuffers, deniers, etc).
The next time you find yourself getting overly angry with something minor, ask yourself, "What does this situation remind me of?" or "Am I dealing with grief?"
For more information on how to deal with this one, check out the following:
Sometimes anger comes because it's easier to blame others for problems rather than taking responsibility for your own life or you don't want to come up with a solution yourself. It can feel like the quickest way to solve a problem. You get used to reacting with anger whenever something doesn't go your way and it's become a very bad habit.
It's a bad habit which will be making your life much harder than it needs to be as you'll alienate your family and friends and could also cause you to lose promotions or even your job. Being angry all the time is a terribly draining way to live as well. If it's a habit for you, it's definitely worth taking the time to change it.
If you're overly exhausted all the time, you might be just too tired to mentally deal with situations that happen. You don't have the strength to have patience with the situation. This is one you often find with new parents but it can happen to anyone if they're overly tired or stressed out.
Or you might just have too many things happening at once and it causes overwhelm for you. You're at the limit of what you can handle at the moment. It can feel scary and you might react with anger at the next event that pushes you over your threshold of what you can deal with.
You feel jealous about what someone else has or has done. It might remind you that you want that as well or it reminds you that you're not following your own dreams. You end up getting angry at the person for having something you want when really you need to turn it around and start thinking "That's something I'd like to have in my life too. How do I start to work towards getting that for myself?"
If someone is looking for validation or approval from others, they might go to incredible lengths to please the other person and when the other person doesn't react the way they want them to, they feel hurt but they respond with anger as a way to deal with those feelings. They don't feel good enough inside or they feel like a failure so they try to get others to tell them how good they are. But, it doesn't work and they end up feeling angry at everyone because they've gone to so much effort and it wasn't appreciated.
The answer to this one is that you need to deal with those feelings of why you don't feel good enough and start to approve of yourself first. Once you approve of yourself, so will others.
If you feel hurt by someone's actions, a part of you might not want to
deal with that emotion so you choose to respond with anger instead. It can feel terribly hurtful if someone betrays you or hurts your feelings in some way. It can also be hard to understand why someone would do that to you. But, it's these underlying feelings you need to deal with and not just the anger.
Or the anger may come from feeling hurt that you tried to do something and it didn't work. You might start to feel like nothing ever works for you or that the world is against you causing you to feel angry overall at the world.
Sometimes people use anger as a way to get others to react in a certain way. For example, they want the other person to do them a favor and if the other person hesitates they get mad so the other person will do what they want. Or they want to gain control over the other person and they know if they get angry the other person will back down. Or they want to make the other person afraid of them. Sometimes people even use it as a way to get out of doing things. Someone asks them to help them with something and they get mad at the other person not only to get out of the current situation but to discourage the other person from ever asking again.
Certain medications like antidepressants can cause people to feel irritable or feel uncontrollably angry. If you've just started any new medication and suddenly feel irritable, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Certain deficiencies can also cause anger issues. For example, a deficiency in magnesium is thought to cause depression and quick tempers according to Dr. Sircus.
This ebook, Prozac - The Ultiimate Deception (opens pdf document) also goes into more detail about how antidepressants and deficiencies in various vitamins can cause uncontrollable rages. This ebook also discusses how even things like aspartame and fluoride can be having an effect on your ability to control your temper.
If your adrenal glands are fatigued, one of the symptoms can be irritability. As Dr. Lam says on his Adrenal Fatigue web site, "If you are easily irritated and stressed, it may be an indication of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome, as this is common in the early stages."
Even food allergies and intolerances can cause aggressive behaviour, anxiety, lack of concentration and other problems that can lead to feeling angry.
So, it's important to consider if there may be health issues behind your anger.
There's also another really good book which discusses needing to release your anger in order for you to deeply heal.
Of course, this isn't just allowing yourself to be angry and justifying it by saying you're "healing". There's specific processes and exercises the authors have you go through so that you're actually healing instead of allowing your anger to destroy you from the inside out. I found this book on Complex Post Traumatic Stress really valuable and it helped me understand a lot of why I was acting and reacting the way I was.
There could be a lot of different things happening behind your anger and that's what you really need to figure out.
Right now, you're probably just reacting on automatic pilot to the various situations that happen to you. Something happens and the first emotion you feel is anger so you just go with it and don't really think about it or choose how you're going to respond. By taking the time to understand where the anger really comes from will be so eye opening for you. You'll learn so much about yourself and you may start to let some things go.
Often when you gain an awareness of why you're reacting the way you are, you no longer respond that way. You've acknowledged the emotion behind it all and you no longer need to react that way. You understand it so you choose a more effective response for yourself. You see that it's not helpful or getting you anywhere by just reacting with the anger, so you'll stop doing that. You'll feel so much more in control of your life and be so much more at peace with yourself.
I bet right now it can be rather scary when you get so angry at people. Like you're not in control, the emotion is. So, that's what you're learning. You're learning to use your emotion as a tool you use rather than letting the emotion control you. It just takes a little practice and soon you're the master of your emotions instead of the other way around.
Start by taking a deeper look at your anger and what it's really
telling you. What's really behind the anger? Ask yourself, "Why am I so
angry?" It could be one of the most important things you do.
Take good care of yourself.
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If you'd like to go through an example to see how many emotions can be wrapped up in anger, take a look at this next article, "So Angry - An Example".
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