One of the things that we covered in my therapy session the other day, was anger. When anger shows up in me, what does that look like? Vulgarity, spitefulness, strategic revenge, and heightened stress shows up the most with me. To come down from being angry is very draining for me, because going from 0 to 100 is not a slow progression for me. Thus, I try my best to ignore or remove myself from people or situations that can take me there. What my therapist told me is that anger is usually a secondary emotion. Many times we over look that initial emotion or aren’t ready to face it.
Anger is usually anything but subtle. It has potent physiological effects. You feel it in your chest. You feel it in your head. You feel it coursing through your body. Nevertheless, anger can be insidious. It confers an immediate sense of purpose. At least in the short run, anger is a shortcut to motivation. So, we spend lots of energy righting "wrongs," but anger also creates a cycle of rage and defeatism. When you feel anger, it provides an impulse to pass the pain along to others. The boss chews you out, and you then snap at everyone in your path. Anger, however, can eventually lead you into self-pity, because you can't slough off the self-hurt.
From mild irritation to intense rage, anger increases the heart rate and blood pressure. And worse, the effects of anger can sometimes be devastating. People who regularly feel steamed up often suffer physical problems such as stomach ulcers and heart attack. A Johns Hopkins study of more than 1,000 physicians reports that young men who quickly react to stress with anger were five times more likely than their calmer counterparts to have an early heart attack even without a family history of heart disease.
Many think the people with anger problems are the ones who yell, scream, and get physically aggressive. Not showing your anger is an unhealthy way of dealing with anger. You can’t avoid anger any more than you can avoid conflict, insists psychotherapist Beverly Engel in her book, Honor Your Anger. Yet many people still believe that being anger-free is the ultimate sign of emotional health. In fact, those who appear not to have a problem with anger are actually the ones most in need of help.
Dealing with angry feelings can be quite tricky some times. Psychology Today, lists 4 strategies to handle your anger in a healthier way:
Take A Break
Putting anger down. We deny anger or repress it. Some of us like to keep our “nice person” image and not make waves. Perhaps we say to ourselves that the situation is not important, and we swallow our anger.
Putting anger off. We think we can put the situation off, not get angry, and deal with it later.
Transferring anger. We are nice to people who make us angry, but we are hateful to those who love us.
Deadening feelings. People who can’t cope with their anger and are afraid to express it often choose not to feel any emotions at all.
Staying in control. Some people think that they must always be in control of a situation. They see anger as weakness and unthinkable loss of control.
In one of my sessions, my therapist gave me an activity to try when I’m angry or feel like anger is building up. Inside my head, I was thinking about how in the hell this was going to work. I tried it and it actually worked. What you do is name 5 things you see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Depending on how pissed off you are, this will not eliminate the anger. However, it will alleviate it or refocus your attention on something else.