- Anger is a much-misunderstood emotion
- Anger is often used as a catchall for a range of problems
There are 7 basic human emotions (according to Ekman, 2007):
- It is worth remembering that emotions range along a continuum – rather than yes/no or off/on.
- the anger continuum ranges from mild annoyance through to intense rage (and which is often accompanied by physical aggression.
- anger is linked to our fight/flight response, and the amygdalae – parts of the brain that scan for threat/danger in the environment
- the Australian Psychological Society debunks the myth that venting anger – such as hitting something – is good for us
- Similarly, suppressing anger is not good – think of the pressure cooker.
Think of anger as being the tip of the iceberg – obscuring a range of emotions such as:
Poor communication styles can also contribute to feelings of anger: miscommunication, lack of trust.
So what works?
- increasing awareness of how you are feeling emotionally (and the physical signs of anger) and knowing what are your triggers – people, situations, events
- stepping back/gaining perspective
- calming down so as to be able to problem-solve instead
- using distraction techniques
- taking time out
- learning assertiveness skills
- write about your trigger situations – communicate these to loved ones – writing is also a great way to engage the logical, problem-solving part of your brain, while also allowing “distance” to view (potentially) differently
- visualise situations that trigger you, and rehearse new ways of responding rather than reacting.
- remember practice makes progress and maintains motivation/commitment to change.
Source: Poerio, L. Veterans Affairs Winter, 2017.