Anger: What Is It? and Why -- plus Self Test
Anger is one of the most misunderstood and overused of human emotions. First, anger is a reaction to an inner emotion and not a planned action. Second, anger is easier to show: everyone gets angry. Third, the feelings underlying the anger reaction make us feel vulnerable and weak; anger makes us feel, at least momentarily, strong and in control. Fourth, angry behaviors are learned over the life-span and therefore can be unlearned and replaced with healthier patterns of coping . Fifth, anger can be an immediate reaction to an isolated event or it can be a response after numerous events. To repress anger is unhealthy (Hankins and Hankins, 1988) and yet to express it impulsively, as we so often do, may give momentary relief but inevitably will carry negative consequences (Hankins and Hankins, 1988; Ellis, 1992; Luhn, 1992). To alter our angry responses, we need to understand from where it comes.
There are a variety of factors that increase the probability of an anger reaction. First, if we have seen our parents get angry first and resolve an issue after, we are more likely to use the same approach. Thus, types of anger are learned. Second, if we are frustrated and feel stressed, we are more likely to react with anger. Third, if we are tired, we are more prone to react in an angry fashion. Fourth, if we tend to hold our feelings inside rather than talk them out, we are more likely to have an angry outburst as the pressure increase much like a pressure cooker.
Styles Of AngerEach of us develops their own special style of anger:
Anger Check List -- How Is Your Anger?
ConclusionAnger reactions have been likened to a train running out of control and about to derail. A little anger can motivate us to take action in positive ways. A lot of anger will make us "red with rage." The price for anger that is out of control will drive away those whom we love the most and endanger our employment.
Ellis, Albert, (1992) Anger: How to Live With and Without It, New
York:Citadel Press Book.
Constance McKenzie, M.Ed., M.A., NCC, MAC, CBCC, CBAT Specializing in depression, victims, victimizers, and addiction, I have been a therapist for thirty years, and a college instructor for twenty. My article, "A Study of Serial Murder," was published in 1995.
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