Anger is a natural, though often misunderstood, emotion. It can serve as a signal for underlying issues and, when managed effectively, can lead to positive change and personal growth.
However, when anger becomes overwhelming or uncontrolled, it can have destructive consequences on personal relationships, work performance, and overall well-being.
As a depression and OCD sufferer, anger has had a grip on me my entire life. If I perceive I’m being slighted or negative outcomes appear unexpectedly, my default response is to get angry. This has definitely negatively affected relationships and how others perceive me in my life and it’s a constant part of myself that I’m looking to improve.
This article will explore various reasons behind your anger as well as effective anger management techniques that can help alleviate some of the burden of uncontrolled emotions.
20 Obvious But Often Dismissed Reasons We Feel Anger
The easiest way to solve a problem is to first understand the problem.
Why do we feel angry? What are the signs that our emotions are getting out of control?
It has taken me most of my life to find out when I need to step back and take inventory of my emotions before I let them run wild.
These reasons for anger may seem obvious, but acknowledging these causes and remembering them in tense moments will help you make better decisions about how you react to situations.
- Frustration from Unmet Expectations: Not achieving what we hoped for can lead to anger. Like George Carlin said: “Inside every cynical person is a disappointed Idealist.”
- Perceived Injustice: Feeling unfairly treated can trigger a strong emotional response.
- Feeling Disrespected: Insults or disrespect can easily lead to anger. This one is a really hot button issue for me. If I feel I’m being condescended to or someone is pulling one over on me, I get super angry super quickly. Pride can be dangerous.
- Fear or Anxiety: Anticipating negative events can manifest as anger. OCD is rooted in anxiety and control issues and that ever-catastrophic part of my brain can be hard to quiet sometimes.
- Physical Pain: Discomfort or pain can lower our threshold for anger.
- Feeling Threatened: A sense of danger can provoke an angry response.
- Loss of Control: Feeling powerless can lead to frustration and anger. I always want to control the environment around me and I need to take a deep breath and realize that’s not always possible. Acceptance goes a long way.
- Overwhelming Stress: High stress levels can make it difficult to control emotions.
- Past Traumas: Unresolved traumatic experiences can trigger anger.
- Insecurities: Personal doubts can manifest as defensive anger.
- Jealousy or Envy: These feelings can often lead to resentful anger.
- Betrayal or Broken Trust: These can lead to deep-seated anger.
- Feeling Unheard: Not being listened to can be incredibly frustrating. This is another one deeply tied to my pride. I hate the feeling of not being listened to or having my opinions disregarded.
- Disappointment: Failing to meet one’s own or others’ expectations can result in anger.
- Feeling Ignored: Neglect can lead to feelings of anger and resentment.
- Rejection: Being excluded can trigger anger.
- Feeling Manipulated: Realizing someone has taken advantage of you can cause anger.
- Helplessness: This can lead to frustration and angry outbursts. This certainly ties into feeling a loss of control and can definitely lead to frustration.
- Grief and Loss: These profound emotions often involve anger. It’s easy to suffer a loss and immediately feel angry at whatever unseen or uncontrollable scenario caused the loss.
- External Factors: Things like noise, traffic, or bad weather can also contribute to feelings of anger. It’s easy to become overstimulated.
Figuring out which one of the above causes contributed to your intense feelings of anger can help identify the root cause and determine the next steps you need to take to help control your raging emotions with effective anger management techniques.
20 Realistic and Actionable Anger Management Techniques
- Deep Breathing Exercises: Slow, deep breathing helps calm the nervous system and reduce the intensity of anger. I tend to practice the square/boxed technique by breathing in for four seconds, holding the breath in for four seconds, then breathing out for four seconds and repeating the process.
- Mindfulness Meditation: This practice encourages awareness and presence in the moment, helping to manage reactive emotions. I cannot emphasize enough how much meditation has helped me in my daily life. It allows me to be aware of the way my mind and thoughts work and how I can let feelings pass without latching onto them in an unhealthy way.
- Identify Triggers: Understanding what sparks your anger can help in avoiding these situations or preparing to face them calmly.
- Count to 10 Before Reacting: This age-old advice allows for a moment of pause to respond rather than react impulsively. It’s the same as re-reading an email or text message a few times before you hit send. Make sure you’re communicating with a sound and rational mind.
- Physical Activity: Exercise is an effective stress reliever and can help in dissipating the energy associated with anger. It’s wonderful how a Peloton ride with the voice over from a sunny and positive coach can make my stresses float away.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, which can reduce feelings of anger. Combine this with stretching for maximum effect.
- Journaling: Writing about your emotions can provide an outlet and deeper understanding of your anger. I often turn to the written word when I have overwhelming feelings, no matter their category, and it helps me work out some of those indescribable thoughts.
- Visualizing a Calming Place: This mental escape can provide a quick relief in moments of anger. The sound of crashing waves on a beach by myself at sunset is commonly what I picture.
- Professional Therapy or Counseling: Sometimes, talking to a professional can help in understanding and managing deep-seated anger issues. Anger is an emotion just like sadness and it should be treated by professionals the same way. Therapy saved my life in so many ways and I advocate it heavily for everyone.
- Assertive Communication: This involves expressing your needs and feelings clearly and respectfully, without aggression. Communicating your needs can be hard sometimes, but the benefits you reap are worth any moment of discomfort.
- Taking a Timeout: Stepping away from a situation can help in cooling off before addressing the issue.
- Using “I” Statements: This helps in expressing feelings without blaming or criticizing others. Talk about how you’re feeling without accusing them of something they may or may not have intended.
- Conflict Resolution Skills: Learning effective ways to resolve disagreements can prevent anger from escalating. Michael Scott was right all along.
- Empathy and Perspective: Understanding others’ viewpoints can reduce conflicts and misunderstandings. I feel that empathy is severely lacking in general human society and it’s important to understand others as 360 degree, complete characters. Try to understand why someone feels the way they do and the environmental and instinctual factors that make them feel that way.
- Challenging Negative Thoughts: Often, anger stems from negative and irrational thinking patterns. It’s easy to fall into negative thought patterns, but these patterns are a prison. It’s important to recognize repetition and find a way to break the combo.
- Setting Realistic Expectations: Unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration and anger.
- Practicing Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges can be liberating and can reduce anger. You don’t want to drink the poison and hope that it kills the other person.
- Problem-Solving Skills: Developing these skills can help in tackling the root cause of anger.
- Relaxation Techniques: Practices like yoga can help in maintaining a calm and balanced mind.
- Humor: Finding the lighter side in difficult situations can help in diffusing tension. Sometimes laughing off when you’re feeling slighted or angry is the best way to ease the mood and move onto the next topic without wallowing in misery.
Managing anger is a skill that can be developed over time with practice and patience. By understanding the reasons behind our anger and applying effective anger management techniques, we can learn to express this powerful emotion in healthy and constructive ways.
Remember, it’s okay to feel angry, but it’s how we handle that anger that counts.