What makes you tick? What are the things that make you lose your mind and go out of control with expressing your anger? This emotion is powerful. So powerful that it can alter how you behave, relationships with other people and the quality of everyday functioning. But what do you do when anger begins consuming your personality, energy, and thoughts…?
Today I spoke with a man whose battle is recently instant rage, aggression and bouts of anger that have completely altered the interactions he shared with his family, friends and his fiancée of 3 years, Psychological research links anger to traits of hostility, power, control, intimidation and a need to demonstrate force.
Triggers to certain events, situations or memories can be an idea of where anger starts consuming your life –and pans deeper mentally into the side of not coping with emotions and feelings in a way that would have made you progress or heal. For me, how you deal, perceive and come to understand the situation is often the seed in whether you heal healthy or effectively stay angry, thus getting used to that feeling instead. Coping and behavior have a very close relationship — sort of like best friends who tell each other everything. Your emotion and body language have a similar connection, especially when the topic is anger or aggression.
For this man, anger is a vehicle that he uses to get his point across or to ultimately gain authority in a situation where he feels threatened. Screaming until he goes red, losing awareness of his surroundings, engaging in risky behavior and physically harming the person whom he felt threatened by, are some of the things he says happens under anger. He claims that he learned to be defensive like that by habit. His father’s version of kicking him out of the house at age 17, involved chasing him around the house with a shot-gun in search of bullets. “That scared me,” says Steve (who has graciously agreed to share his real name for the sake of opening discussion for others on this topic without shame). But that event also taught him to use intimidation and aggression to feel heard and be taken seriously. Steve’s father never sat down, had a conversation and calmly explain his emotions toward him –which is a communicative skill that Steve is still working on developing as an adult. When someone does something that reminds him of that experience or his actual father, the defense mode instantly kicks in. Trauma seems to be linked with the change in Steve’s behavior.
TRIGGERS FOR ANGER
- Facial Expressions
- Sudden Movements
- Verbal Abuse
- Feeling Distressed
- Feeling Helpless
- Direct Threats
- Hands Flailing
- Raising/Tone of voice
- Returning to a Place with Bad or Traumatic Memories
According to researchers Fiest & Brannon (2013), hostility is linked to heart disease and high blood pressure. The hostility you give to other people creates pressure on your heart’s surrounding arteries, much like how stress does. Steve noticed that he began losing weight rapidly over the last few years. “Being angry made me lose my appetite, right away,” adds Steve. Headaches, bruises on his body from constant physical altercations and even losing his job, made him come to grips with himself in order to realize that he had a serious problem. His aggression helped him develop a bad attitude talking to people in authority, also being the foundation of how and why he lost his job. Constantly being in a state of anger clouded his better judgment and his ability to focus, or have empathy for the people he hurt. Now after 2 years, Steve has admitted he needed professional support on his road to self-redemption. Attending a weekly anger management group helped Steve find a safe, neutral place to express his feelings openly.
In addition, sharing his story opened him to learning how to take on different perspectives, problem solve and use techniques to diffuse conflict in order to get himself away from escalating a situation further. Letting people finish their sentence while speaking was a huge issue for Steve before. It had to do with wanting power and control because he saw arguments or disagreements as a threat to his safety. Seeking support and help allowed him to understand his actions on a more conscious level. He stops to think before he says most things now. Steve admits he still has some trouble not raising his voice in moments of frustration –which sometimes even happens to the best of us. Anger was the main emotion, while feelings like happiness and confidence seemed like a faint memory for Steve.
Sharing this story is very special because although he was not diagnosed with a mental disorder, he understood that his life was taking a turn down a road he had no real wish to go down, and turn to his community for help. A support group rebuilt his confidence that he could control certain elements in his life –like his thoughts and how he chose to cope with stress. Steve could not control what happened with his father when he was 17, nor the time lost over the past years being hostile towards others — but he would learn to turn his temper around in a way that he can now talk to other honestly and respectfully. He also learned how to feel empathy again and return to the activities he used to enjoy before he was too pissed off to even go outside on some days. “I didn’t think I would be stuck like this…it wasn’t me most of my life,” admits Steve. “Anger literally took over my life,” he concluded.
CALM YOUR ANGER
- Color Therapy
- Seek Help (Hotlines, Support Groups, or the Hospital)
- Go to your favourite local location
- Have a bath
Steve’s story motivated me personally to think about my own behavior and seek to make positive changes as well. If family or friends are out of the question then your community can give you help, through a support group; or just a safe place to talk. Make anger the least important thing. If I have learned anything from talking with Steve today, it would be that.
Thank You For Reading.
About Lakeisha Angelika
Based in Toronto, Ontario -- Lakeisha Angelika is mental health & wellness freelance blogger, with a background in Psychology. She shares informative and helpful articles on ways to boost quality of life, manage mental illness and issues surrounding the psychological community. Lakeisha Angelika also designs illustrations and posters that compliment her written text.