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Anger and Aggression

Emotions like anger and aggression are very complicated. Whilst we may not like them, they are a fact of life. We all feel anger from time to time, however if it’s a part of your normal day you might want to think about seeking support.

We may feel mild anger if we are tired, stressed, frustrated, other people’s beliefs/opinions, lacking in sleep and many other things. Anger is a response to feelings of either unhappiness or irritation. Anger can be a threatening emotion for ourselves and others around us; however, it is a very common emotion.

There are many different types of anger, which cause a different response. We can either become aggressive (if we feel we are under attack), become frustrated and our passive aggressive self might appear (if we do things we normally wouldn’t do / our emotion becomes irrational), we might also become defensive (fight or flight) or just simply annoyed/irritated (maybe outraged by something in society).

Anger can be a learned emotion; we may imitate someone we see as a role model (either in childhood or as young people and adults). Anger could be caused by the persons environment if you grew up with aggression around you. Anger can also be caused by stress or worry. Some people might just have an angry personality.

There have been many studies around anger, Tice and Baumeister (Controlling anger: Self-induced emotion change 1993) stated that of all the moods that people want to escape, rage is the most unbending. Anger is the most seductive of the negative emotions; the self-righteous inner monologue that propels it along fills the mind with he most convincing arguments for venting rage. Is this how you feel when you have those feelings of inner or outer anger? The longer we ruminate about what made us angry, the more we give ourselves justification for these emotions.

We can find ourselves in a self-perpetual vicious circle; when we feel anger, we also might feel anxiety or depression. The more panicked or low we feel the angrier we become. It can be hard breaking that downward spiral once you are in it.

Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘Anger is never without a reason, but seldom a good one’.

A very good friend of mine called Guy also once said ‘Anger is the acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than anything on which it is poured’… I think it was Mark Twain who said this originally 😊.

The secret is to notice when the emotion is sparked, the very first thing that triggers the anger. It takes practice to do this, which means it takes time and you need to be in it with purpose. By this I mean you must really want to change. Once you understand the trigger(s) you can work on taking back control and stopping the emotion before you spin into rage. You also need to understand that this control is within you, it isn’t anyone else’s responsibility to change – we can’t be accountable for others.

There are some helpful tips you can use when noticing anger:

- Keep a notebook handy – start to monitor when you feel anger. Note down things such as:

o What were you doing just before anger kicked in (the event)?

o Where were you?

o Who were you with?

o On a scale of 0-10 (0 being minor and 10 being major) how angry were you?

o What physiological feelings were there (knock in throat, heart racing etc)?

o Were there any other emotions present and are is there a relationship between them?

o How did you react (physical, verbal, flight, passive/aggressive etc)?

This to me is the second part of wanting to change (the first is seeking help / knowing you don’t want this emotion any longer); putting the effort in. You will need to write this down for a few weeks. You should then start noticing patterns/triggers. These patterns/triggers create habits and as we know habits can be made and broken.

In next months BLOG I will put together some helpful tips which you can use as healthy ways to respond to anger.

Much Love Jo xxxx

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