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Everyone feel anger from time to time; it’s a basic human emotion. But left uncontrolled, anger can turn into anger issues that can be a destructive force that ruins your life. 

In this guide to anger issues and anger management, you’ll learn all you need to know about anger, what causes it, its effects as well as tips on how to manage and express your anger in healthy ways. 

What is Anger?

Anger is a basic emotion that everyone feels but what is it exactly? Anger is a strong emotion, expressing displeasure, towards someone or something. The Mayo Clinic defines anger as “a natural response to perceived threats”. It’s a completely natural emotion although it is often unwanted and/or irrational. 

Research suggests that prolonged anger and depression can be two sides of the same coin – which explains the increasing demand for anger management classes these days.

Anger is similar to stress in that being angry is also a natural reaction to an external or internal stimulus. In fact, being angry is one of the manifestations of stress; so stress management tips can actually also become your anger management tips.

And additionally, anger can also cause further stress.

The difference between the two, however, is while stress is more of just a reaction to a stimulus, the definition of anger involves expression as well which makes handling anger issues all the more necessary and important.

Is Anger Healthy?

It’s important to note that anger in itself isn’t a problem. As an emotion, anger can highlight any negative feelings that may be bubbling up and give you an outlet to express them. It could also act as motivation to solve the problems or issues that are causing your anger. 

Anger becomes unhealthy when you have no control over it. For people with anger issues, they are consumed by the fiery flames of anger and do not have the skills to manage it in a healthy way. This in turn will affect their own well-being as well as their relationships with others. 

Left unchecked, anger can be a destructive force in your life that holds you back. 

anger issues: causes of anger

What Causes Anger?

Anger, as is usually said, is a secondary emotion. This is why most anger management help usually aims to identify the primary emotion behind the anger in an effort to find a resolution to the anger issue at hand.

In other words, the cause of anger can almost always be drilled down to another emotional trigger – like frustration, disappointment, bitterness, jealousy, resentment, or insecurity, to name a few.

These triggers usually arise because of ONE reason: Expectations not being met. It can be expectations you set for yourself, those you set for others, or even expectations others set for you that you feel should be met.

If these expectations are not met, the disappointment and frustration in not meeting these expectations sometimes lead us into the anger zone.

For instance, if you perceive an insult in someone’s words, you may find their behavior is not in line with your expectation of being respected by the person. And chances are, that makes you angry.

Many times people who are insecure with themselves tend to tie everything that others say or do to their self-esteem and perceive disrespect in the harmless statements or actions of others, thereby easily getting upset or reacting angrily at them.

As in the case of stress, anger is caused by the same hormones released into our system in preparation to fight a perceived threat. In that sense, being angry is a good defense tactic, and if necessary, a good offense tactic, designed by nature to protect us.

But since we don’t and can’t hit out at everyone and everything that causes these hormones to be released in us, we often misdirect our annoyance at someone or something else instead.

In fact, a lot of such expressions are misdirected; we are angry at someone or something but the heat is taken by someone else or something else.

Other common anger triggers include grief, depression, and alcoholism. Past traumas and bad memories and experiences can also be a trigger for anger. 

Everyone has different, unique anger triggers depending on your personal history. A little self-reflection can reveal what yours are and give you better insight on the root causes of your anger issues. 

Types of Anger 

Now, let’s take a look at the different types of anger. Here’s a straightforward easy way to categorize anger:

  • Anger at Yourself: You messed up something, as you perceive it. Like, say when you are late for an important appointment because you couldn’t get up on time.
  • Anger at Others: Others messed up something that concerns you, as you perceive it. Like, say when are late for an important appointment because the contractor working on your house took longer than expected to get done with his job.
  • Anger at Circumstances: Things got messed up by circumstances beyond your control. Like, say when you are late for an important appointment because of an unexpected traffic jam due to an accident on the road.

All three types of anger outlined above could directly bring about any stress that you may experience within you, and could potentially result in misdirected frustration. But the second type also has the additional possibility of a more specifically directed temper associated with it.

Experts in the field have also come up with ways to classify different types of anger. Some widely-accepted types of anger are:

  • Passive anger may not come across as anger. It is often expressed as sarcasm or meanness or manifests as self-sabotaging behavior. This type of anger is the most difficult to identify. 
  • Self-inflicted anger is often caused by guilt and is directed at the self.
  • Overwhelmed anger happens when one feels overburdened by life and is unable to cope. 
  • Volatile anger is aggressive or violent anger, which can be spontaneously expressed.
  • Chronic anger is prolonged anger and can have a big impact on your health 
effects of anger

What are the Effects of Anger Issues?

While the relationship between anger and health is not necessarily all bad, the effect of prolonged and chronic anger on our body is definitely negative. 

Learning about the negative effects of anger on our health may help us put things a little more under perspective and our temper a little more under control.

Anger is a form of stress experienced by you, so theoretically anger affects your body potentially in the same way as stress does.

And if you choose to outwardly express your fury directly on every person or circumstance that acts as an external trigger, you may be labeled a social misfit, or diagnosed with an anger disorder, or worse, have legal ramifications tailing you, depending on your actions.

It is quite natural to be upset or angry from time to time, over stuff that happens in our lives. It may be a relief to know that such annoyances and frustrations rarely do us any harm.

So what kind of anger actually affects our health negatively?

It is the frequently recurring kind, that occurs even on trivialities; and also the resentment that is held inside us for prolonged periods of time. These two kinds of anger help sustain the stress hormones released inside our system for a long and extended duration of time.

And that is what harms our bodies in the long run, sometimes irrevocably. Here is what anger can do to us:

  • Increase our blood pressure, and possibly increase the cholesterol levels as well. These two factors significantly increase our risk for heart disease.
  • Weaken our immune system, causing frequent occurrence of sickness ranging from common cold to headaches and digestive issues.
  • Shorten our lifespan – there is research suggesting that persons with consistent, prolonged levels of anger have a five times higher chance of never reaching the age of 50.
  • Anxiety disorders, depression, and other mental health issues. Interestingly, a study reports that angry women are more likely to be subject to such mental health issues, while angry men are more likely to run into physical health issues.
  • And last but not the least, anger can drive us to other habits and addictions which adversely affect our health as well, like smoking and alcohol.

Do I Have Anger Issues? 

So how do you know if you have healthy ways of coping with anger or if you actually have anger issues? 

Here are some physical signs that you may have anger issues:

  • Increased heart rate 
  • Headache
  • Sweating, especially in palms
  • Feeling hot in the face/neck
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Clenched jaw or grinding teeth

Beyond just the physiological signs of anger you can see in yourself, there are some other signs of anger issues:

  • Anger has a negative effect on your relationships with others; you hurt others with your anger
  • Constant negative thoughts 
  • You tend to raise your voice when speaking with others or you find yourself beginning to scream, yell, or cry during conversations
  • Always feeling frustrated, impatient, or annoyed
  • You feel like you cannot stop feelings of anger from escalating 
  • Threatening physical violence or being violent when you’re angry
  • Being verbally abusive with others when you’re angry
  • You frequently regret the things you’ve said or done when you’re angry
anger management issues

What is Anger Management?

Anger management is about coping with our anger. It is about calming the reaction within. It is also about controlling the external expression of it.

While the stress caused by your anger has a direct effect on you, your angry response also has the potential to affect your environment and other people. 

In other words, the stress involved in being angry can hurt you slowly from the inside but an inappropriate external expression of your annoyances or frustrations can cause social and/or legal ramifications that may be more immediate in nature and have the potential to hurt you a lot more. 

In extreme cases, such reactions can even be termed as an anger disorder.

With anger management skills, you’ll learn how to express your anger in more appropriate, healthy ways. You’ll also learn how to deal with your anger so that it doesn’t have a negative effect on your life, on others, and on your health. 

Top Tips on How to Control Anger

With mindfulness and compassion, you can make some quick strides on managing your anger issues. Here are our top tips on how to control anger. 

Change Your Expectations

Since anger arises from failed expectations, changing expectations follows as a natural remedy to bypass the anger alley. That implies being flexible enough to change expectations based on the situation at hand.

So instead of getting upset over a missed appointment, try to acknowledge the missed appointment in a calm manner. Now plan for what needs to be done to recoup the missed appointment.

In essence, what we did is take that appointment out of your “expectations list”, and revise the “list” with new a plan. By revising the “list” as you go, you are no longer setting yourself up to be angry when something goes against expectations.

And it’s amazing how your creative machinery wakes up to come up with viable alternatives to a failed plan, the moment the cloud of frustration starts to recede.

Change Your Internal Dialogue

Here is a good tip for controlling anger. See if you can rephrase your internal dialogue to put a positive spin on your current situation.

Try starting the sentence with “It’s a good thing this happened because.. “

For instance, “Darn.. I missed the flight” can be reframed to “It’s a good thing I missed the flight, now I have some breathing time to read a relaxing novel before my next flight” or  “… I can now sightsee for a couple of hours before the next flight.”

Reframing a negative situation in a positive way allows you to take a new perspective and see the bright side of things instead of immediately diving into frustration and irritation. 

Relax and Take a Deep Breath

This is one of the most common ways to control anger, as well as to reduce stress. Sometimes there is really not much you can do in a situation anyways – like when you are stuck in a traffic jam.

It sounds super simple but this is a neat trick If the situation gets aggravating and there’s not much you can do about it: breathe slowly – inhale for 6 to 8 counts and exhale the same way – and keep your focus on your breaths for about 10 to 15 times.

This anger management technique can help with the physical signs of anger. It helps to relax your tense muscles, slow down your heart rate and as you become calmer, it’s not surprising if you notice your anger has faded away as well.

Take a Break

We all need that sometimes! Take a break from whatever it is you are doing, and get a change of environment if possible. Get out and get a cup of coffee.

Getting away is one of the good ways to help us identify, and consequently address, the real issue that is bugging us, as opposed to what we think we are angry at.

You may think it’s the workload that’s causing you to be irritable but a little introspection might trace it down to the disagreement your spouse had with you a few days back, on what you had then thought to be a relatively minor issue.

Taking a break gives you space from the triggering situation and provides an opportunity to relax and calm down. Better yet, use your break to implement the techniques above like taking deep breaths and changing your inner self-talk!

Find Humor in the Situation

It’s impossible to be angry when you find a situation funny. Sometimes it can help defuse our temper if we are able to laugh at the situation and/or ourselves as well.

For instance, instead of getting annoyed at a nitpicking colleague, you can see that as a funny situation and see if you can guess the next comment they’ll make on your work on your work.

If you did, bravo.. you have figured her out, haven’t you?

A lot of times, humor helps us take things in the right spirit and it’s often an excellent antidote to anger. And laughter is a proven stress remedy as well.

anger management

Top Tips on How to Express Anger Appropriately

While we have plenty of anger tips focusing on how to control anger, it may not always be possible to use those techniques successfully. While anger management techniques are excellent in serving the purpose they are intended for, sometimes it may just be that we are rightfully angry.

For those situations, it is a question of judgment if it is appropriate to try controlling your temper using anger management tips – and a lot of times, it is – or if the situation is such that it actually warrants being angry.

For those times when being angry is justified, here are a couple of anger management tips on how to effectively express it. 

Communicate Instead of Criticize

If your anger does get the better of you and if you feel you have to communicate it, do so in a non-judgmental way. Two persons need not look at an issue the same way, and you always have a right to your viewpoint.

It is just a matter of putting that forward to the other person in such a way that it helps them focus on your issue rather than on themselves.

In this case, it can be helpful to avoid assigning blame. Consider using “I” statements instead of “you” statements to express your emotions. For example, instead of staying “You’re always late, you’re so inconsiderate!”, you can say “I feel anxious when you don’t inform me that you’re running late”. Using “I” statements reduces hostility and allows for more open communication to happen. 

Focus Your Energy on Solutions

Wherever possible, try to divert your negative energies to positively come up with a solution to what you feel needs to be addressed. This is not an easy tip but do-able with practice.

If it is an argument, focus on the ongoing discussion and not on the person. If it is an injustice of some sort, focus on what you can methodically (and legally) do about it, rather than aggravate tempers and make matters even worse.

Keep the energy but shift your focus from the person to the situation, and from the situation to the solution.

While flaring tempers could be tempting and may even give you an immediate sense of relief, more often than not, it only compounds your issue instead of subsiding it.

How can you possibly come up with a solution then when you yourself become a part of the problem by helping compound the very issue that you wish to resolve?

Anger Management Resources 

The good news is that there are loads of resources to help you learn how to manage your anger issues. The tips we’ve outlined above are a good starting point but here are our top anger management resources, if you’re looking for more.

  • For a more in-depth look at anger, check out the best anger management books out there. These books have great insight and advice that will empower you to make positive changes in your life with regards to your anger issues!
  • If gamifying things is your jam, then anger management games may just be the thing for you! These anger games are fun ways to help you better understand your anger triggers and teach you ways to cope with it… all within a game setting. 
  • Anger worksheets can help redirect your temper appropriately by addressing the actual source, instead of potentially misdirecting your frustration at someone or something else.
  • You may also want to consider taking anger management classes which can teach you the skills to deal with your anger.
  • Get a dose of wisdom by reading quotes about anger!
  • If you enjoy listening to audios, try listening to hypnosis for anger. These hypnosis downloads can help you control anger in the long run by changing your self-talk and reprogramming your mindset. 

You Can Overcome Your Anger Issues

Anger issues aren’t forever; you can get yourself out of the cycle of negativity with some work and effort! 

Remember: It’s not weak to ask for help. If you find that you’re unable to self-manage your anger, then it’s a good idea to seek professional help. 

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Manage Your Anger Issues | Can't control your anger? Here's our epic guide to anger issues and how to manage your anger in a healthy way!