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  • Tamara Cavenett

The truth about anger

When anger is triggered, bubbling under the surface is a large physiological response. Our survival mechanisms have been activated, the ‘fight’ part of the ‘fight or flight response’ has been set off, a mechanism designed to prepare us to fight off a threat.

We all experience anger at times. Often when something interferes with us getting what we want or when we perceive something as threatening.

Whilst a very natural emotion, it has the consequence of being very damaging in relationships and is common across depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other difficulties.

How we manage this emotion and respond can have a huge impact on our wellbeing and relationships.

So what can help?

Learning how you’re mind works

Everyone is individual and our minds are complex. Understanding the patterns of thought that are unique to you and learning how you developed this way of thinking can help.

Understanding how the mind works when responding to this emotion can also make a difference, it can allow you to control your attention and break the rumination cycle.

Should you express anger?

A common misconception is that expressing anger relieves the emotion. Instead it tends to reinforce and amplify it and you may be more successful if you can change the way you see the event that triggered it. Reappraising the cause may give you greater distance and reduce the intensity of the emotion. As you can imagine this is extremely hard to do when you feel strongly about something; however there are a number of strategies you can use to assist.

How do morals contribute?

Anger is a moral emotion and is often caused by complex judgements. Strong beliefs about injustice, right and wrong, and fairness can contribute. The more flexible you’re beliefs the easier it is to reduce the intensity of your anger.

When is anger good?

Sometimes anger is good. It can motivate you to take up a cause, give you the energy to keep trying when obstacles present or overcome the fear to communicate you’re needs. It is an ‘action’ emotion and is more likely to bring about behaviour than avoidance.

It is also not as painful as other emotions such as hurt, sadness or fear and its pattern of activation in the brain is somewhat suggestive of more pleasant emotions.

So what if you could control your anger?

Imagine being able to master the emotion… and achieve a feeling of wisdom and strength. To be able to state what you think or feel without fear or excessive anger and get more of what you want out of life…

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