Anger is a normal human emotion, one that we all experience at times in our life, often if we feel attacked, deceived, frustrated, invalidated, or unfairly treated.
It can, in fact, be a useful emotion and help us to identify problems or things that are hurting us, motivate us to create change and achieve our goals, or help us to stay safe and defend ourselves in dangerous situations.
Anger, however, can start to become a problem when you express it through unhelpful or destructive behaviour, towards yourself of other people. Perhaps it has become your go-to emotion which overrides other emotions, or you feel out of control when angry.
If you find yourself doing some of the following things, then you may need to seek support for your anger:
- Hitting or physically hurting other people
- Shouting at people
- Breaking things
- Losing control
- Getting into trouble at work
- Telling yourself that you hate yourself and denying yourself basic needs such as food and water
- Refusing to speak to people, ignoring or deliberately undermining them (also known as passive aggressive behaviour)
If you find yourself expressing your anger through outward aggression and violence (physical or verbal), it can be extremely frightening and damaging for the people around you, especially children. It can also have serious consequences and lead to relationship issues, loss of employment, trouble with the law, etc.
What Does Anger Feel Like?
Anger feels different to everyone, but some of the most common effects on your body are:
- a churning feeling in your stomach
- tightness in your chest
- an increased and rapid heartbeat
- legs go weak
- tense muscles
- you feel hot
- you have an urge to go to the toilet
- sweating, especially your palms
- a pounding head
- shaking or trembling
Some of the most common effects on your mind are:
- feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
- feeling guilty (particularly after you have had an outburst of anger)
- feeling resentful towards other people or situations
- being easily irritated
- a ‘red mist’ descends on you
- feeling humiliated
- feeling overwhelmed and out of control
Acknowledging some of these symptoms is the first step to recognising that you may have an anger problem and will allow you the chance to think about how you want to react to a situation when you next experience one of these feelings.
Why Do I Get Angry?
Everybody feels angry sometimes and we all have different triggers. There may be problems in a relationship, at work or school, you may feel angry if life isn’t going how you had hoped it would, feel misunderstood by people around you, or are confused about your sexuality.
Sometimes, you might feel angry and not know why. This could be the result of lots of different pressures building up around you, stress can trigger an angry response, or it could be because of something that happened to you in the past, such as abuse, which hasn’t been resolved (your present feeling of anger may be linked to a past experience), etc.
Becoming aware of the triggers that lead to an angry response in you are another important step in resolving anger issues.
How To Cope With Anger
When struggling with anger, some people turn to alcohol and drugs, but these will most likely make you feel worse and are likely to create bigger problems later.
As mentioned above, understanding your triggers and acknowledging your angry feelings are important first steps to take, but there are other things that can be tried including:
- speak with a professional counsellor about your anger (CONTACT US to arrange access to a Counsellor)
- take yourself out of a situation if it is making you feel angry
- try not to react immediately by simply counting to ten before you respond
- learn how to manage / prevent your anger by going for regular walks, listen to calming music, breathing exercises, reading a book, and doing more of what you enjoy in life
- think about what you want to say in a potentially triggering situation and ensure you listen to what they are saying
- try and develop a wider perspective on situations (think about whether you will even be able to remember in a year’s time what is making you angry now)
As well as seeking professional counselling, there are plenty of anger management courses available which can be accessed either via the NHS or privately (if you would like to find out more about these courses, CONTACT US)
If your anger is abusive or violent, it is important to seek help immediately, either through your GP, speaking with us, or contacting another mental health organisation (there are a list of relevant organisations below).
You may feel worried that asking for help will get you in trouble, but it is often the most important first step towards changing your behaviour.
Other Relevant Organisations
A mental health charity providing advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
A charity providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide.