Everyone feels anger from time to time. Anger is a natural response to negative, unpleasant, or dangerous situations. However, anger is an emotion, and sometimes, emotions may get out of our control. Just like any other emotion, anger also incorporates a whole range of feelings, which might be weaker or stronger.
Anger may range from mild irritation to a full-fledged rage. When we say that someone has anger issues, we usually mean that this person is unable to control their anger, so it turns into destructive behavior. Some people may also get angry too frequently and too easily, so their anger may negatively affect their mental health.
In this article, we will consider the key signs of anger issues so you can figure out whether your anger is healthy or not. If you have problems with anger management, you should find out what causes your outbursts and learn to control your emotions, but this process takes a lot of determination. Besides, you should understand how anger works from a psychological perspective.
Therefore, the best solution is to make sure that you have clear goals and all the necessary support. A licensed therapist can help you better understand your anger and suggest effective coping practices so that you can keep your anger within healthy limits.
Keep reading to learn what healthy and unhealthy anger looks like and when you should consider therapy.
What Anger Is
According to the definition from the American Psychological Association, anger is an emotion characterized by antagonism aimed at someone or something that has done you wrong. Anger may vary in intensity, and just like many other emotions, anger involves certain biochemical changes.
When you get angry, your body starts to produce more adrenaline and noradrenaline, so your blood pressure and heart rate increase. Adrenaline is a hormone associated with the fight-or-flight response to stress, and its effects come very quickly.
Therefore, it’s important to be able to quickly recognize unhealthy anger so that you can cope with it effectively.
How anger manifests itself
Most often, anger manifests itself as an aggressive response. This is a natural reaction, given that anger is an emotion that evolved as part of our adaptive reaction to threats. The human brain is wired to feel anger when we need to defend ourselves so it’s an important mechanism for our survival.
However, you should keep in mind that anger is a very powerful emotion that can cause destructive behavior. Human society has social norms and laws that establish limits for our aggression. So everyone needs to know how to deal with anger in a healthy way so that it won’t turn into a destructive force.
What to do about it
People use various techniques to deal with anger, and these tactics fall into three main categories:
It’s important to keep in mind that expressing anger doesn’t necessarily mean doing it in a toxic or destructive way. You can express your emotions assertively while avoiding aggression and confrontation.
One can be assertive and respectful at the same time without pressuring others or being demanding. You just have to clearly outline your needs and think of how to meet them without hurting other people’s feelings or compromising their interests.
It’s also possible to suppress your anger and then redirect or convert it into something constructive and positive. You just need to slow down, reflect on your feelings, and focus on resolving the issue or think of something that has nothing to do with your anger.
However, unexpressed and suppressed anger may also accumulate and turn inward. As a result, a person may start to demonstrate passive-aggressiveness, criticize, and confront other people indirectly. Such behavior may negatively affect one’s relationships, without helping them solve their anger issues.
Another approach is to calm down so that your response to a problematic situation won’t turn into anger in the first place. To calm down, you can do various anger management exercises, learn to control your breath, and keep track of your internal responses.
Therapy can also help you manage your responses to negative experiences and become more emotionally balanced.
Do I Have Anger Issues?
Anger issues can negatively affect your life in many ways. Not only can anger ruin your relationships and make others distance themselves from you, but it can also negatively affect your own mental and physical wellbeing. Therefore, it’s important to be able to recognize your unhealthy anger responses.
Here are the most common signs of anger issues.
1. Being easily irritated
If you get easily irritated when talking to someone you don’t like or a person who causes you some discomfort, it might be a sign that you have some anger issues. People often get irritated because of being too judgmental.
If any spark can set your mood on fire, controlling your emotions can be a difficult task, but you can manage them if you learn to disagree with other people’s opinions without making it personal.
Allow the other person to talk and wait for your turn to reply in a non-aggressive way. Practice active listening to better understand the person you’re talking to and think of your body language to make sure that it doesn’t contribute to the escalation of the conflict.
2. Verbal outbursts
Verbal outbursts are very common among people with anger management issues. In turn, such issues can lead to various mental health disorders, which might involve impulsive and destructive behavior.
Anger outbursts may eventually make a person break objects or abuse others, resulting in emotional and even legal problems. Aggressive episodes may also include:
- Chest pains,
- Racing thoughts,
- Fast breath,
- Racing heartbeat, etc.
If you experience any type of anger outbursts and feel like you’re losing control over your emotions, it means that the best solution is to consider anger management therapy. You can learn to control your anger so that your anger episodes won’t become more destructive.
3. Feeling like something is always wrong
The way you respond to unpleasant situations largely depends on your way of thinking. Anger issues may manifest themselves in a more or less obvious way, and having problems with anger management doesn’t necessarily mean destructive physical expressions of aggression.
For example, one may start arguments and blame others in any situation. A person with anger problems may insist that they are right and others are just too sensitive, in an attempt to justify their anger outbursts. Besides, people with anger issues often find it hard to describe their emotions in a non-aggressive way.
4. Ruminating on the past
Some people tend to ruminate on their mistakes and failures that happened in the past, and such thought patterns can make them feel frustrated with themselves and others. The growing irritation from situations that happened in your past may make you feel angry.
If you constantly experience stress or anxiety because of the thoughts about the negative things from your past, it can be difficult for you to manage strong emotions like anger. Therapy can help you change your unhelpful thinking patterns so that you can address the root causes of your anger.
5. Shallow breathing
Shallow breathing is a common sign of anger. When a person is angry, their body produces a lot of adrenaline, which affects various bodily functions, including breath and heartbeat. By paying attention to your breath, you can notice when your body enters the fight-or-flight mode so that you can calm down and avoid anger outbursts.
To deal with shallow breathing, stop for a while and take a few deep breaths while trying to breathe from your belly. You may also try to count from one to ten or repeat positive affirmations so that you can calm down and refocus.
How to Overcome Anger Issues
Figure out what triggers your anger
People often get angry because of the same reasons, over and over again. Pay attention to your thoughts to figure out what factors trigger your anger, and try to avoid them. For instance, if you often experience road rage, you may consider using public transportation.
Replace negative thoughts with positive ones
When we are angry, we may exaggerate the negative aspects of the things that happen to us, so one of the best ways to control your anger is to reconsider your thinking patterns and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
For instance, try to avoid such words as “never” and “always” in your thoughts and speech. This way, you will perceive the situation in a more realistic way. Instead of demanding something from others, you can turn your demands into non-aggressive requests.
Physical activity can help you deal with stress and manage your anger. When you start to feel angry, go for a walk, run, or do any other physical activity. This way, you can also distance yourself from unpleasant situations and think of how to approach them in a constructive way.
Try progressive muscle relaxation
Research data shows that progressive muscle relaxation can help reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. It can help you deal with stress and anger, and it can also help you address some stress-related problems, like anxiety and insomnia.
This technique implies tensing and relaxing all of your muscle groups. For example, you may start from your toes and move toward your head or vice versa. Such a practice can help you become more aware of your physical sensations and relax not only your body but also your mind, as well.
Talk to a therapist
Sometimes, it’s not easy to control your anger, and if you feel like your emotions start to overpower you, the best solution is to get help from a licensed therapist. Therapy can help you change your unhelpful thinking patterns and learn how to release anger in a healthy way.
If you’ve never visited a therapist before, you can learn more about the treatment process so that you will know what to expect from your first session.
While in-person therapy may not be a convenient option for people with tight work schedules, keep in mind that you can also use online therapy platforms like Calmerry and talk to a licensed therapist from virtually anywhere.
Anger issues may manifest themselves in different ways. People with anger management problems may often start conflicts, blame others for any negative situations, or experience anger outbursts.
Problems with anger management can have a significant negative impact on one’s relationships and mental health so if you realize that you’re losing control of your emotions, don’t hesitate to go to therapy.
You can master anger management by figuring out what triggers unhealthy emotional responses, changing your thinking patterns, and learning to react to unpleasant situations in a healthy way.