Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Where does anger come from?

My blog today, is in response to a question posted on our Facebook page. Where does anger come from? Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion, that can range from mild annoyance to outright rage. Anger can serve to be a positive force in our lives, to motivate us to take a stand, makes changes, or address things we have been avoiding. When anger becomes "bad" is when the behavior or reaction to the anger is expressed in negative or aggressive ways, rather than in assertive and positive ways.

What is the difference between being aggressive or assertive? Someone acting in an aggressive manner might be hostile, infringe upon the rights of other and/or attempt to use intimidation to get their point across. Someone using assertiveness skills is able to stand up for themselves, express their perspective, and be confident and respectful, while not infringing over someone's boundaries or rights.

Anger can come from several sources, such as old memories, previously experienced trauma, the guy at your job, traffic jams, outrage at something witnessed, or it can be what is referred to as a secondary emotion. In our society and in our media, frequently the range of emotions that we see are fairly limited to the major ones, happy, sad, angry, and maybe a small handful of other emotions. Anger as a secondary emotion is where anger is the emotion immediately felt or expressed, but it is covering up or masking other emotions that we are either unwilling to or unable to identify at that time. An example of anger as a secondary emotion would be walking through the local cafe during the lunch rush, tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and spilling food all over yourself in front of everyone. Now, while you might be angry that there was a crack in the sidewalk, might you also be feeling embarrassed? Frustrated? Anxious to leave?

By being able to identify the emotions you are experiencing, and processing them in healthy ways, it will help you to better manage your levels of anger, and help you to ensure your responses/behaviors relating to anger are healthy. You can process your feelings by talking with someone or possible utilizing a journal. Another tip for managing anger is to develop a calming mantra that you can repeat to yourself as you feel your anger rising. For example, you might use "relax" and repeat it to yourself over and over again. You can engage in a variety of relaxation exercises such as deep breathing. Utilizing behavioral strategies like exercise and yoga can also be beneficial. When it comes down to it, every person is unique, and what might work for me, might not work for you. In the end, you have to listen to yourself and your body, and figure out what works best for you.

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