Insight into Anger
You are always flying off the handle. Why are you so mean? When you get angry, you can be hurtful.
Do any of these statements sound familiar? When we experience feelings of anger, it is not only internal but external. Internally, we can feel like we are erupting. Externally, we can be seen by others as hurtful, unkind or even aggressive. As a result, anger can negatively impact not only our relationships but also our medical and mental health.
So, what can be done about this anger? It starts by understanding what exactly is anger. Anger is a secondary emotion that is biologically based. This means that anger is a honed emotion that has been developed over hundreds of years as an alert system. The purpose of anger is to alert us that something is wrong -either in our environment with other people or with ourselves. As such, anger can be a helpful and productive emotion, if used in the correct manner.
The use of anger begins by understanding how anger acts as a secondary emotion. But what does this mean? This means that anger acts to alert us that something is wrong, which then can prompt us to re-examine the situation at hand. Upon this re-evaluation, we can often start to see what is truly underlying that anger. For example, if a person feels ignored by another, this can result in anger towards that individual. But what is it that anger is really saying? Looking deeper, that same person might say that when she or he is ignored, they may feel hurt or negated from these actions. By gleaning this insight into our internal motivations, we can start to better understand the influence of our thoughts and emotions on our behaviors. Through this deepening of our understanding, we can then begin to make changes to our lives
How can I make change in my life? Change begins with developing insight into your anger cycle. You can start to develop this skill by understanding your concrete expressions of anger. Concrete expressions are symptoms that can be physically observed. Does your face flush? Your muscles tense? Your fists clench? These are all concrete examples of physical expressions of anger. As we progress through our anger cycle, the more prominent these physical responses become towards others. Therapy helps you to learn about your cycling so to be able to develop appropriate intervention strategies. These strategies are created in a collaborative manner with a therapist so to help empower the client to better control his or her emotions. Through therapy, a client can then begin to resolve their issues with anger and repair their relationships.
-Dr. Holly Goller