Many people have trouble managing their anger :
“ In our family nobody ever expresses their anger by shouting. I wish they would – instead they sulk with each other for days or make snide remarks or try to make the other person feel guilty”.
“I’m really easy going and not an angry person…but then sometimes I lose my temper over some small thing. I say and do really hurtful things and when I’ve calmed down again I hate myself”.
“I was so annoyed after spending the day with my in laws that I came home and ate a whole tub of icecream”.
“When I was little my dad used to come home from the pub and shout and hit out..we were all really scared of him. Mom used to go quiet and be really cold with him for days but they never talked about what was going on”.
It’s natural to feel anger when we feel injured, badly disrespected or under attack. It’s a type of response that gives us the energy to survive whatever hardship we are experiencing and, and in that way, it is our friend. If you are frightened, troubled or feel ashamed of yourself for your angry responses and wish to work better with them, then the first step is for you to see that your anger has actually developed in that way so that you survived your childhood..it may have given you the strength to fight back or run away when faced with injustice.
Angry feelings can lead to behaviour that is anti-social and destructive and so we can feel frightened of anger. Your background i.e. the way your families or culture responded in anger, will have had a big influence on how you express it. You may have been punished as a child for being angry or have seen adults around you expressing anger in an out-of control way that terrified you. Or you may feel scared of the power of your own anger. All of these experiences can encourage us to suppress our anger.
When we feel angry we feel full of energy and alert. Tension builds up and the hormone adrenalin prepares us for “fight or flight”..your heart pounds and excitement builds …this is released when we express our anger. Releasing anger is good for you, keeping body and mind in balance – as long as it takes place constructively..i.e. in a way that actually changes things positively and doesn’t leave us feeling ashamed of ourselves.
If we don’t express the anger we feel then the energy raised has to go somewhere…
Unexpressed anger may cause emotional effects :
Depression – anger turned on ourselves
Addictions – alcohol, tobacco , pain killers and illegal drugs
Compulsions – including over and under eating, OCD, over working, sexual activity
Bullying behaviour – especially expressing racist, homophobic and sexist views.
There are also many physical effects of suppressed anger
digestion problems – colitis, heartburn, ulcers , IBS
heart and circulatory systems – ie blocked arteries
joints and muscles – inflammation and arthritis
immune system – more likely to get colds or take longer to recover from operations, major illnesses, lowers pain threshold – more sensitive to pain
Through counselling you can:
Learn to recognise the behaviour and triggers that create an angry response BEFORE you explode or feel bad about yourself !
Acknowledge past hurts.
Learn to be assertive without being aggressive by learning new ways to speak and behave that are more likely to create positive outcomes for you.
Learn to take care of yourself better so that you don’t keep exposing yourself to situations and relationships that trigger you.