Anger- is it a symptom or a solution? I would argue it is neither. Read on to learn more about anger and when to ask for help.
Are you easily irritated or frustrated? Do you find yourself feeling angry more often than you probably should? If so, then you are like millions of people who suffer from anger. Anger tells us that something is not right. The reason why our brains make us feel “angry” is to give us strength, energy, and motivation to take action to make something right.
However, anger is not always cut and dry for many people. Anger can amount to a dangerous or explosive level, causing some to “snap” and resort to violence and harming others. In some severe cases, anger can get out of control and cause problems with relationships, work, the law, and even general health.
For example, long-term, unresolved anger can cause health conditions, such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, and heart disease.
So, if you ask yourself, “Why Am I Always Angry?” “Why Do I Always Feel on Edge?” Then, there may be some underlying reasons why that you may not be consciously aware of. It is also important to deal with anger healthily before it harms you or someone you love, or even takes control of your life.
Common Anger Problems
There are many different causes and reasons for anger or even a combination of reasons. Some common causes include anxiety, depression, hurt, resentment, a lack of sleep or simply being unhappy with life. You might feel drained continuously, depleted, fatigued, or have weak boundaries. Most individuals who suffer from unexplained anger are unaware of the cause as well as how to fix it.
According to a survey published by the Mental Health Foundation, 32 percent of respondents claim that they knew someone who had difficulty controlling anger. Unfortunately, most individuals who suffer from anger problems rarely seek professional help or admit that they have a problem. Others are unaware they have a problem at all.
What Makes Us Angry?
Everyone experiences anger differently. For example, an anger trigger for one person may be different for another. What makes one person angry may not bother the other person at all. However, some things make most people mad, which include the following:
- Being disrespected or treated unfairly
- Feeling violated, threatened, or attacked
- Being frightened or physically harmed
- Being interrupted when you are trying to achieve a goal
- Feeling powerless or hopeless
How Do We Show Anger?
In addition to experiencing anger differently, every individual also shows or expresses anger differently. For example, some people “snap” or lash out verbally or physically whereas others hold their feelings in.
Here are some common ways we show or express anger:
- Verbally – shouting, yelling, swearing, name-calling or making threats
- Physically – reacting violently; lashing out physically; hitting objects, people, or animals; frightening people; breaking things
- Passively – sulking, ignoring people, becoming distant or quiet, inflicting self-harm
If you find yourself thinking, “Why Am I Always Angry?” then it may be time to take a good, hard, and in-depth look at yourself, which may be difficult or uncomfortable. Some everyday situations that can cause internal anger include:
- Your current situation. If you are dealing with multiple problems or stress, this not only creates anger, but it may also make it difficult to control anger, especially as time goes on.
- Your family history. You may not be 100 percent to blame for your anger. You may have learned unhealthy or unproductive ways to deal with anger as a child from your parents, guardians or other family members who were a part of your upbringing.
- Past events. If you have experienced traumatic or stressful events in your life that you may not have coped with adequately, then you may be still hanging onto those feelings, which can cause anger.
Regardless of how you experience, show or express anger, you likely feel unheard or that you cannot fully express your feelings in the way that you would like. This may be a reason why you constantly feel angry or are easily angered or frustrated.
Anger vs. Aggression: What is the Difference?
If you believe that anger and aggression are the same things, you are incorrect. There is a difference between the two: anger is an emotion whereas aggression is how we behave when we feel angry.
Not everyone who feels angry is aggressive, and not everyone who acts aggressively is angry. In some cases, people may act aggressively because they are afraid of something or feel threatened.
Reasons Why You Might Be Angry
Now that you have a better understanding of what anger is and how it is experienced, here are some reasons that may be causing your anger:
Yes, believe it or not, the concern is one of the most common causes of anger. You may have experienced an event in your life-either to yourself or someone you know or love-that may have scared you, or you fear that something may happen. The fear of losing control, looking foolish, getting into trouble, or even getting physically or emotionally hurt can all cause anger.
So, it may be time to ask yourself why you might feel afraid or what scares you most. Once you have concluded, it is time to face your fears. This may involve having a difficult conversation with someone you love, contacting the authorities, or making a big career move.
Once you have conquered your fears, you will not only feel proud of yourself, but you will notice your feelings of anger begin to fade.
Another common cause of anger that we briefly mentioned above is powerlessness. This feeling is often associated with a loss of control, feeling of helplessness, or like you are a victim of something in your life.
For example, you may be suffering from a health issue that prevents you from doing the things you once were able to do or enjoy. You may be in an abusive relationship where you are hurt continuously-physically or emotionally-and you feel powerless to stop it and feel trapped. These situations can spark anger.
If you feel like you are losing control in your own life, then it is time to either seek professional help or guidance on how to make changes. If you have a health issue and are frustrated with having to deal with it, then try to work with a physical therapist, be proactive in learning about your condition and how to treat it or live with it, or find ways to leave an abusive situation.
Taking any form of action will put you back in control, which can help conquer anger and relieve some of those bottled-up feelings.
Millions of people suffer from anxiety. In fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults (18 years and older) in the United States suffer from anxiety. This amounts to approximately 18.1 percent of the total population. Although anxiety and anger might seem like two different things, one can cause the other. For example, individuals who suffer from anxiety often feel overwhelmed, either from various factors in life or with their emotional states. Therefore, when a challenging situation arises, this can make an individual feel “maxed out,” and cause him or her to lash out with anger.
The good news is that there are some positive treatment methods for dealing with anxiety. Some ways to deal with anxiety healthily include seeking professional help, engaging in enjoyable activities, reducing stressors in your life, getting a pet or even trying medications.
A Painful Past. A traumatic or painful experience can follow you throughout your life, especially if you did not properly cope with the experience. Anger is often associated with a past event that continues to rear its ugly head from time to time or as a response to a “trigger.” For example, individuals who were physically or verbally abused as a child will often experience internal anger throughout their adult lives, if not properly dealt with. Some individuals will often lash out at others who try to get close to them whereas others will “put up a wall” and hide behind it, preventing others from getting close to them. They will often use anger as a defense mechanism to prevent themselves from getting hurt.
The next time you find yourself getting angry about something, stop and take a minute to reflect on the situation before you react. Think: “What about this situation is making me angry?” “What does this situation remind me of?” This will help you to understand better the source of your anger and how to deal with your emotions appropriately.
Grief is another cause of anger. Grief can be an overwhelming emotion and is also one of the hardest, painful, and complicated human emotions. Grief is often associated with the death of a close friend, family member, spouse or loved one, or even a pet, and it can be incredibly painful. However, grief is not always about death. Grief can also be about losing someone you were close to or even grieving about what could have been. For example, ending a relationship, losing a career or passion or not being able to have children are all situations that can cause grief without physically losing someone or something.
These situations involve grieving about a life that could have been, which can turn into anger. Most individuals become angry or jealous of others who live happy lives and blame themselves for their lost opportunities.
Although it is normal to experience anger with grief, it can take an ugly turn if not properly dealt with. The best way to deal with anger and grief is to come to terms with the situation, cope with it properly, and move on. Seeking professional help can allow you to cope with grief and anger properly and help you to focus on other positive things in life.
Control Your Anger Before It Controls You-and Your Life
When left unresolved, anger can cause more problems. It can cause issues with work, romantic relationships, familial relationships, and even health issues. Anger can also cause many individuals to resort to alcohol or illegal drugs to mask their pain and emotions, which only worsen anger and aggression. Therefore, facing and dealing with anger head-on might be scary and difficult, but it can help you to live a healthier and happier life.
Every person is different and therefore deals with anger, aggression, and their emotions differently. Here are some ways to help get a better handle on anger:
- Learn your anger “triggers” (what makes you angry)
- Beware of your early warning signs of anger (what you experience when you begin to feel angry)
- Avoid blaming others
- Try to plan when dealing with difficult situations (have a “bailout” plan that allows you to get out of a situation that makes you angry)
- Take a break
- Take deep breaths and count to 10
- Ask for help (either from a friend, loved one or a professional)
Living an anger-free life is entirely possible, regardless of how long you have been dealing with bottled up emotions or anger. By committing to changing your mindset, your lifestyle, seeking professional help, and becoming aware and taking control of your anger, you will find that living an anger-free life is possible.
Prepared by Megan Strauss, LPC at Brightside Counseling Services, LLC.