Understanding Emotions: ANGER
I have decided to continue the subject of emotions with the strong, fiery and stigmatized emotion of anger. Anger is one of the primary emotions and due to its powerful energy it can cause a lot of trouble in our lives.
Similar to primary colours, or primary sounds, the primary emotions are the body’s first response, and they are usually very easy to identify because they are strong responses, strong energies. Examples of primary emotions are: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise. Many people do not realize that any emotion exists on a continuum of intensity – thus anger might range from annoyance to rage.
Are you affected by anger in your day-to-day life? Do you feel angry on your daily commute, or at work or in your personal life? Did you know that anger can manifest in different forms and intensities like boredom, procrastination, always being late or excessive crying?
Anger can be a gift, a part of our human experience along with all other emotions, but it is not at all easy to handle, especially if were not taught or demonstrated as children how to handle our emotions in a healthy way and then to let them go.
An emotion is e-motion or energy-in-motion’. We can consider it a messenger.
Well – what is the message of anger?
Anger may try to tell you that something is significantly wrong, someone may cross or push your boundaries, or something is ‘blocking your path’. This emotion gives you the energy to attempt to change things, to take action. Sometimes can even signal you a dangerous situation – giving you the energy or adrenaline to act rapidly.
So anger gives you a message and it gives you the energy to act; however it cannot tell you exactly how to handle the situation. This is something we all learn, early on, we create a specific ‘style’ or maybe more than one style on how we react or not.
We learn these styles early in life, as children, and if one has never had a chance to understand how to have a healthy relationship with anger they will use (subconsciously) one or two styles that are not always the most appropriate to a situation.
An anger problem is something that makes it hard for you to handle your anger – either being afraid of it, liking it too much, ‘stuffing’ or ‘numbing’ your anger because you don’t know how to express it outloud, or exploding in rage.
An anger style therefore, is a pattern, a habit, a particular way you handle your anger (or other emotion for that matter).
But how would you know which styles are your go-to when dealing with anger?
You can ask yourself these few questions:
“What do I do when I get angry?”
“Do I recognize that what I feel is anger?
“Where do I feel this emotion in my body?”
Ronald T. Potter-Efron and Patricia Potter-Efron, authors of multiple books on emotions and anger in particular – they defined anger in three main groups and eleven anger styles pertaining to these groups:
Masked Anger (sometimes called Passive-Aggressive)
People not realizing that they feel angry, or underestimating their anger.
1. Anger Avoidance
People trying to never see their anger at all, and never let others see it either
2. Sneaky Anger
People hiding their feelings behind masks of confusion and procrastination
3. Anger Turned Inward
People realize they are angry, but cannot give themselves permission to express their anger toward others
Explosive Anger (also called Open Aggression)
People experience quick, explosive and sometimes dangerous character of their anger
4. Sudden Anger
Quick, exaggerated, and sometimes dangerous character of their anger – a style marked by loss of control and quick rages – like shame-based anger
5. Shame-based Anger
Shame-prone people feel suddenly attacked, and they lash out defensively in return
6. Deliberate Anger
People who get angry intentionally have to demonstrate that they would “go crazy” to get what they want.
7. Excitatory Anger
People with this style of anger seek an adrenaline rush through their anger. They achieve that kind of “high” when they get into loud and energetic arguments.
People experience anger for long, long periods of time. They cannot let go of their anger as easily as those with any other styles
8. Habitual Hostility/Anger
People have learned the habit of anger so well that they cannot stop
9. Fear-based Anger
This anger style makes people distrustful and even paranoid
10. Moral Anger
People with moral anger get locked into endless crusades
People who carry resentment or hate are stuck in an anger that will not release them
Be aware that no one uses only one style every time they feel angry.
Seeing the above styles, ask yourself:
- Do you see yourself in one or more of these styles?
- Which of these styles do you use frequently, as a habit?
- Which of these styles do you avoid?
- How do you express your anger? Do you become silent, are you sulking, procrastinating, pretending ‘everything is fine’, are you always late at work or on any important moments with family? How is your driving – do you experience ‘road rage’?
- Do you use different styles with different people or situations? (Example: be curious if you feel anger more often at home and avoid it at work)
- How can you become better at handling your anger?
- How should you handle your anger? What kind of action should you be taking?
- Do you avoid anger and any other emotion at any cost?
- Do you think if you allow yourself to feel anger or other emotion you may lose control?
Photo by Victor Rodriguez
Benefits of healthy or assertive expression of anger:
- Being in control of your emotions without ignoring their message
- Taking responsibility of own emotions – experiencing, or feeling an emotion it does not mean losing control, but sometimes just acknowledging the feeling within changes the entire state of being.
- Taking the right action with the goal of solving conflicts, not hurting other people
- Taking responsibility for what you say and what you do without using anger as an excuse
- Improvement on all of your relationships (with yourself, family or work relationships) and improvement of your life
- Communicating how you are feeling emotionally, and being present, really trying to understand what others are feeling as well
- When you handle your anger in a healthier way, you demonstrate that you are mature, conscious adult and that you care about your relationships and about yourself
- If you are a parent is never too late to learn and to demonstrate through day-to-day living to your children that emotions are normal human experiences, that emotions are allowed, that is never late to learn and expand your emotional vocabulary and enhance your life experience
- Forgiveness is also very important – if a person has apologized for making you angry – be open to listen and forgive. Be willing to also be forgiven and to forgive yourself for feeling an emotion
If you would like to learn more about effective ways to communicate your anger and your needs to other people, improve your relationships and how to safely release this emotion – reach out to me at Lidia@NewEarthFamily.ca to ask any questions.
Love & Kindness,
Most of our lives and most of our days we are absorbed in Doing: getting the things done, moving fast from one thing to the next, or multitasking – attempting to juggle a whole bunch of different things at the same time.
Emotions and feelings can present a very challenging aspect of our lives. We experience intense emotions without understanding precisely why and consequently find it difficult to identify the solutions that will soothe our distressed minds and hearts.