Anger is a primary human emotion. Just like other emotions such as happiness, disgust, or anxiety, anger is almost impossible to avoid. In small amounts, anger can be useful. It allows you to understand that something that is happening or something that was said is not acceptable to you. Anger is also connected to the body’s fight or flight response and helps to prepare you to fight.
Anger often comes when we encounter injustice. When we experience a situation that is not as it should be, often anger is what we feel. This can be good, as it moves us to correct the injustice. If the situation is beyond what we can control or fix, anger can linger. This unsettled, unreconciled anger can become stored up inside of us and affect us emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Prolonged bouts of anger can be harmful to yourself and to others. Anger can cause ever-lasting physical and mental damage. Short-term memory decreased judgment, and a weakened immune system are all potential side effects of prolonged anger.
Spiritually, holding onto anger is dangerous because it will lead us down a path we wouldn't normally choose. When we are angry, we are much more prone to acting in ways we would not usually choose. These actions can lead us away from the path we have chosen. Anger simply isn't trustworthy. When anger is in charge, we will not build the life we want.
Everyone experiences anger differently. According to Psychology Today, Psychologist Jerry Deffanvacher, has determined that anger happens with a combination of the qualities of a person, a trigger event, and the person’s observation and experience of the situation at hand.
We’re going to break this down in more detail below.
● Qualities of a Person: These include overall personality traits and the level of those traits. Some of these traits include competitiveness, low tolerance for frustration, high levels of exhaustion or anxiety, and narcissism
● Trigger Event: This is the actual event that provoked the emotion of anger. Examples can include a package being delivered to the wrong address, being cut off in traffic, an employee calling out for their shift at the last minute, or being yelled at by a customer or stranger in a store.
● Observation and Experience of Event by the Person: This is how the person appraises the situation at hand. This could include needing justification, need for punishment, or blaming.
According to the American Psychological Association anger is defined as “ an emotion characterized toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong” Since anger is an emotion that we will all experience throughout our lives, it is important that we learn to deal with anger appropriately. The Mayo Clinic refers to the below tips to deal with your anger.
It is very easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment. When your blood is boiling and you're all revved up, there is a good chance that you will say or do things that you will later regret. Instead of immediately reacting when you feel anger, take a moment to breathe. Click here for a guided meditation. Practicing this can help you to find calm quickly in intense moments.
Give your body time to become calm, cool, and collected before reacting. By stepping away from the situation, you not only allow yourself space and time to think logically and rationally, but you also allow others to do the same.
The simple act of thinking before speaking and thinking before acting can save you a lot of difficult heartbreak and can avoid potential disaster.
Once you are thinking clearly, express your frustration or annoyance in a nonconfrontational and professional manner. You should be able to state your concerns directly and without hurting or controlling anyone else.
Another way to deal with your anger is to do something physical. You can go for a hike, play a sport, swim, dance, run, or clean out the garage. Changing your physical stance allows your mind to relax and divert into another activity. Anger is a form of energy, and energy gets stored in our bodies. The more we can clear out the unhealthy energy - like anger, grudges, and the like - we will experience better physical and emotional health. When your anger leads you to hold grudges, it will have profound effects on your physical health. Click here for 8 Steps to forgiveness.
Using our bodies is key to physical health, we all know this. It is also key to spiritual and emotional health, too. Use the energy you feel when you focus on the source of your anger to propel you through physical activity. When you are finished, your body will be tired but your mind and soul will be refreshed.
Another way to deal with your anger is to focus your time, effort, and energy on solutions. We tend to focus on the event that made us angry. This is a waste of our internal resources as the event has already happened and cannot be changed. Instead, think about what you can do to control to fix the problem or move on from the issue.
Anger, while unhealthy, is familiar. We know what anger is and how to bear it. Though it isn't good for us to hang onto, it is a familiar burden. Sometimes, what we name as anger or choose to feel as anger may be something else that we are afraid of. Anger can be an imposter, hiding more intense emotions like fear, shame, grief, or guilt. These other emotions are big and can be frightening to sit with. However, once we name them for what they are, we can rid ourselves of them.
In conclusion, anger can be good - it helps us to identify when there is an injustice or when someone is causing harm to another and we can use that to bring justice and reconciliation. Holding onto anger is dangerous. Spiritually it will lead us away from the Source of our devotion, and away from the person we are working to become. Physically, prolonged anger will cause problems with our health. Emotionally, anger will affect our mood, our happiness, and how we interpret the actions and motives of others.
Your emotions are a part of your overall health and well-being. Develop a habit of listening to your emotions and what they are telling you about yourself, your surroundings, and others. Find resources here for understanding and navigating your emotions.
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Hi, my name is Melissa Ebken, and I'm so glad you found your way here.
I am at home in the difficult spaces of peoples’ lives, willing to listen and to support those who work to grow themselves. I am a trained coach and have consulted with churches in conflict. Not your stereotypical minister, I embrace the Gospel with joy and laughter as I seek to help those around me grow in faith and understanding, always striving to leave people better than they came. An agent of wholeness, I create a safe space for people, especially those who have been marginalized, where they can understand how ridiculously loved and valued they are by God/Higher Power/Spirit, and to experience the difference that makes in life.
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