Understanding and Managing Anger
At times, we all experience anger—it's an inherent part of being human. Anger is a natural and healthy emotion, often arising when we feel:
- Invalidated or unfairly treated
It's essential to recognise that anger isn't inherently 'bad'; in fact, it can serve a purpose. For instance, anger can:
- Help us identify problems or situations causing us harm
- Motivate us to effect change, pursue our goals, and move forward
- Provide a burst of energy as part of our "fight or flight" response, ensuring our safety in potentially dangerous situations
For most people, manageable episodes of anger have minimal impact on their lives. Learning how to identify, express, and cope with anger in healthy ways is crucial for our mental and physical well-being.
When Does Anger Become a Problem?
Anger becomes problematic when it spirals out of control and adversely affects you or those around you. This can occur when:
- You regularly express anger through unhelpful or destructive behaviour.
- Your anger takes a toll on your overall mental and physical health.
- Anger dominates your emotional landscape, suppressing other emotions.
- You haven't developed healthy ways to express your anger.
Unhelpful Angry Behaviour
How you react when experiencing anger depends on your ability to recognise and manage your emotions and the ways you've learnt to express them. Not everyone responds to anger in the same way. Some unhelpful expressions of anger may include:
Outward aggression and violence: Shouting, swearing, slamming doors, hitting or throwing objects, or becoming physically violent or verbally abusive and threatening towards others.
Inward aggression: This may involve self-destructive behaviours, such as self-harm, self-denial of basic needs (like food), isolating oneself from the world, or engaging in self-harming activities.
Non-violent or passive aggression: Actions like ignoring people, refusing to speak to them, neglecting tasks, deliberately performing poorly or late, and adopting a sarcastic or sulky attitude without explicitly expressing anger.
If you find that you express your anger through outward aggression and violence, it can be profoundly distressing and harmful to those around you, especially children. Such behaviours may lead to severe consequences, including the loss of family, employment, or legal trouble. In such cases, seeking professional treatment and support is crucial.
Even if you do not outwardly express anger aggressively and never raise your voice, you may still identify with some of these problematic behaviours. For example, turning your anger inward and engaging in self-harm or self-denial.
Seeking Help and Support
Recognising that we sometimes need assistance is a courageous step towards managing anger constructively. If you're seeking additional support and guidance, consider the following resources:
Kooth: Offers confidential online support for young people aged 11 to 18.
Teens Health: Provides valuable insights into understanding and managing anger, along with a practical 5-step approach to addressing it.
Young Minds: Offers comprehensive information on anger management and techniques to cope with it.
Your Life Counts: A useful website covering various types of aggression, featuring online chat functions for discussing your concerns with someone.
Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, and there are resources available to assist you in managing anger in healthy ways.