What is anger?
Anger is a normal and natural emotion that we all experience to some degree. It can vary in intensity from mild annoyance or frustration through to outright hostility, aggression or rage. Anger is often described in terms of how we experience it. Some people feel flushed and tense, notice increases in their heart rate, they sweat more and so on. Others experience it as a heaviness, an urge to lash out or may notice themselves constantly rehashing old experiences or events and feel unable to move on with their lives.
Why do we get angry?
In general, anger arises when a target (a person, situation or ourselves) does something that in some way blocks or obstructs us from something that is important to us. We feel that the target does this deliberately and unfairly. As a result, when someone or something does something that we consider unfair, when this action interferes with something important to us or we feel that they are doing it deliberately, we are prone to get angry.
How we express anger
Just as we experience anger differently, we also express it in different ways. Some people tend to express anger openly or overtly: they might yell, scream, break things, or say cruel or harsh things. Other people tend it express their anger more internally or covertly: they might withdraw, give people the silent treatment or they may take their anger out on themselves. Sometimes people who express their anger in this way may not be aware of their anger or that it is negatively effecting them.
How to know when anger is a problem?
Anger in itself is neither good nor bad, but it is the way we manage our anger that can be classified as either helpful or unhelpful. There is no hard and fast rule for deciding when our anger has become a problem, however, a few indicators that we may want to pay attention to are:
- Other people tell us that our anger is out of proportion, unhelpful or destructive.
- We find ourselves experiencing problems associated with our anger, for example, relationship difficulties, work problems, or we engage in behaviours that aren’t working for us.
- We feel that the anger is getting in the way of living the kind of life we would like to live.
What to do if anger is a problem?
If we think of anger as a normal part of human experience, then anger management is not so much about getting rid of our anger as it is about finding ways to respond to our anger that serve us better. Interestingly when we can respond to our anger in more productive ways, we often find that we experience anger less often. The goal is to find ways to respond to our anger that allow us to build the life we want, rather than being in the grip of it.
How can a psychologist help?
Anger can be an extremely troubling emotion. It can be highly unpleasant and can have terrible effects on our relationships, work, well-being and happiness. It can also be difficult to work through on our own sometimes. Therapy can be useful in several ways by:
- Providing skills and techniques to allow us to manage our anger more effectively
- Helping us understand the origins and triggers of our anger
- Helping us to find new ways of looking at the situations or people that are triggering our anger
- Providing ways to calm the physiological effects of anger
If you feel that anger may be a problem for you and would like help with anger management, our experienced psychologists will be happy to assist you.
To make a booking please call us on (02) 9518 1061, and one of our psychologists will call you back to offer you an appointment.
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Inner West Psychology, 20 Jarrett Street, Leichhardt