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Understanding Anger - Part I

Emotions are powerful responses that are unavoidable. As unique individuals, we express our emotions in various ways depending on the situation and people around us. You may have a friend or know someone who is always happy and cheerful or someone who is cranky and moody.
But what about anger? Do you know someone who expresses anger frequently? Perhaps you find yourself feeling angry more often. Understanding your emotions is the first step to knowing how to appropriately express these feelings.
What is Anger?
According to Dr. Charles Spielberger, anger is “an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage.” Exploring the nature of anger, irritability and agitation are accompanied by both physiological and biological changes. For instance, when you experience frustration or agitation, your blood pressure and heart rate increase, energy hormones increase, as well as adrenaline and noradrenaline. – Family fighting during holidays, a delayed flight, wrong food order, argument with a friend, the kids arguing in the back seat – Anger is the result of external or internal (even a combination of the two) events. Either an individual person or an event can stir up irritability.
Why Do We Feel Anger?

It’s normal to question why we experience anger. Leading experts within anger management programs have offered several responses why irritability occurs more often for some. However, several of these reasons are worth taking a moment to consider. For instance, anger occurs because someone wants to harm themselves. Depression can play a big role in anger directed towards oneself. If you feel powerless or isolative, it may represent a desire for self-destruction.
We may experience anger in an effort to achieve control. It has been suggested that anger is used to intimidate or manipulate our circumstances. Fear, irritation and even sadness can drive your intent for control. People will experience anger to feel powerful. Making someone feel small when you’re feeling down can make you feel bigger in comparison. Additionally, the need to fight injustice can fuel anger. While personal morals and feelings of social justice look different for everyone, some people experience outrage at any inequality committed against themselves or others.
As we continue to explore causes and consequences of anger, remember that anger is typically goal-driven. ‘Why’ we experience anger will be different for everyone. Anger can be triggered and leave people feeling worse than the start of their irritability. Regardless of what causes your frustration, what you do with those feelings of agitation counts! Over the next post, I will review some of the best approaches to reduce anger and some practical steps to limit agitation and irritability daily.


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