Based on the overwhelming response to my last blog theme, “Why is Everyone So Angry?” I am going to delve into this topic a bit deeper. Let’s talk about anger on a personal level.
According to the American Psychological Association, Anger is defined as “antagonism toward someone or something that you feel has deliberately done you wrong.” Being angry is not always a bad thing. It can help us solve problems and check that our moral compass is facing in the right direction. The problem is when anger becomes overwhelming and results in aggression. Research shows that excessive anger increases your blood pressure and can harm both your mental and physical health.
If you find yourself frequently angry, the first thing to do is to figure out why. The next time something makes you angry, try to pause, take a step back, and ask yourself, “Why am I so angry?. What is going on with me right now?” The point is NOT to shame or blame yourself but to be inquisitive by seeking to understand what is triggering you.
If you respond with, “That person cut me off in traffic, that is why I am mad,” or “My friend said this or that to me, now I’m angry at them,” then you have not really explored the motivation behind your anger to the level that this is required.
The event that makes you angry is just an event, no matter what the event is. When in reality, it is the meaning that you attach to the event that is causing you to be triggered.
No one wants to hear this, but it is rarely about what the other person said or did that causes you to be emotionally triggered. Instead, It is something within yourself that often needs to be healed.
Let’s look at an example:
You are driving down the highway, and someone cuts you off in traffic. You react in anger that may, at a minimum, result in cursing out loud to the person. Worst case scenario, you end up in a car wreck. If you pause and ask yourself the question, what is it about that event – being cut-off in traffic – that caused me to be so angry? You might respond with, “How dare they do that. Don’t they know how dangerous that was?” This response has the root concern of safety, and I would bet that being safe is important to you. Perhaps your response is, “Who does that person think they are? How dare they do this to me.” This response has the root concern of justice, and you feel like someone has wronged you.
Regardless of the root concern, the first step to controlling anger is to own the fact that you are triggered based on issues within yourself. The other person frankly provided you with an opportunity to discover things about yourself and it might be time to deal with that.
Using the example of being cut off in traffic, everyone deals with things like this, and of course, none of us like it very much. Inevitable situations will arise, and you will probably get upset about it, but not every event that triggers you should result in aggressive retaliation.
As you ponder the reason behind your anger, there are other variables to take into account.
- How are you sleeping? Research shows that in a sleep-deprived state, our brains are more likely to misinterpret cues and overreact to emotional events in a negative way. Maybe you’re so easily triggered today because work has been piling up, and you haven’t slept well in the past two weeks. Give yourself some rest.
- Are you stressed out? Maybe it’s your family, the upcoming holidays, or your work environment, but stress keeps your body on edge and you are more likely to lash out during a situation that makes you angry. When you get angry, your flight or fight response kicks in. Your brain is flooded with stress hormones and your body prepares for physical exertion. An already stressed-out person presented with a triggering situation will be physically overwhelmed by hormones that make it nearly impossible to keep from an outburst.
Whatever the reason for your anger, there is an answer. The problem for most people is that the root of anger comes from within themselves and they choose not to grasp that concept. Responding to anger is personal and requires you to dig deep within yourself.
Why Is Everyone So Angry?: https://meaningfulalignment.com/why-is-everyone-so-angry/
Anger and Aggression: https://www.apa.org/topics/anger
The Organizational Cost of Insufficient Sleep: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/the-organizational-cost-of-insufficient-sleep?cid=other-eml-cls-mip-mck&hlkid=ba7f57cb9c164d2489248b8856545698&hctky=11879462&hdpid=61e62d0d-68d2-4bbb-8e40-5939e8c98b5a
Anger- how it affects people: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/anger-how-it-affects-people