How to Tell If Your Anger Is Normal: Signs You Are Having Trouble Managing Your Anger
A feeling of frustration, displeasure or annoyance, otherwise referred to as anger, is a normal human emotion we all experience occasionally. In some cases, anger is an instinctive reaction to something and can help us to recognise when we or someone we care about are in danger (e.g. when a child may be in danger of getting hurt). In this case, anger can be a healthy and functional response to a situation in order to protect ourselves or others around us.
Having the ability to control your anger when it arises is crucial not only for your own wellbeing and happiness, but also for the people around you. Where we regularly feel angry and experience angry outbursts that are dysfunctional (as opposed to being productive and having a purpose), it can be exhausting and distressing for us and our loved ones and can largely impact other facets of our life, including work. This sort of anger is often out of proportion, lasts longer than it should and can be destructive if left unaddressed.
In this article, we will take a look at a number of key signs that may help you to determine if the anger you are experiencing is normal (i.e. signs you are having trouble managing your anger). Let’s start firstly by considering key physical and emotional symptoms of an angry outburst.
Physical Symptoms of Anger
Strong emotions such as anger can cause us to physically react to the way we are feeling emotionally. When you are feeling angry, you may clench your jaw or fists and perhaps grind your teeth. You may experience a feeling of pressure in your head or face. Your muscles may tense up and your blood pressure may rise. In some cases, anger can cause rapid breathing and an increased heart rate. Some people when feeling angry may experience chest tightness and/or heart palpitations. Anger can induce blushing and redness or flushing in the face and raising of the voice.
Feeling angry can cause excessive perspiration (e.g. of the hands or forehead) and may bring about shaking, trembling or tingling. Anger can cause us to feel dizzy and or suffer headaches or aching of the stomach. When feeling heated, we may pace up and down our surroundings and when the situation has concluded, anger can result in fatigue. Feeling very angry can also cause a person to crave alcohol or cigarettes (that may bring about a feeling of relaxation).
Emotional Symptoms of Anger
A number of different emotions may accompany feeling angry, including feeling sad, depressed and/or anxious following an angry outburst. During an angry incident as well as afterwards, anger can cause a person to feel irritated and frustrated, which may also be accompanied by rage. Strong anger can lead to a desire to strike out at another person or situation verbally (and physically, in some cases).
Anger can cause a person to feel cynical and sarcastic and to experience a reduced sense of humour. Anger may leave an individual feeling overwhelmed and wanting to escape a situation. Following an angry outburst, we may feel guilty and resentful for what we said and/or did. Feeling very angry and regretting our actions when angry can lead to sleeping troubles and withdrawal from family and friends.
Signs You Are Having Trouble Managing Your Anger
You have a short fuse and little patience
Do you find yourself regularly “flying off the handle” when a situation is not desirable or causes you to feel frustrated (particularly in trivial circumstances, such as temporarily misplacing the T.V remote)? These sorts of angry outbursts can indicate you are struggling to manage feelings of anger when they arise.
If you are experiencing very little patience (i.e. the ability to accept a situation and to tolerate issues as they arise) when something goes wrong, causing you to explode, your anger may be an issue. Being able to maintain patience and control when things don’t go the way we expect is key for leading a calm and happy life.
Your anger is out of proportion to the issue at hand
It is acceptable for us to get angry from time to time, so long as we are able to control our emotions and not let them negatively impact our life or the lives of those around us. However, in instances where a person experiences far more anger than may objectively appear necessary, it may indicate they are struggling to contain and process their anger.
You say or do things you regret later on
Feeling angry is one thing, however when we are regularly overcome with regret about how we handled ourselves during an incident (i.e. we said and/or did things in order to express our anger or seek revenge), this may indicate we are having trouble managing our anger. The ability to express our emotions (including anger) in a calm and healthy way is central to maintaining strong interpersonal relationships with our partner, family, friends and workmates.
You feel angry long after a situation has concluded
It is bad enough to have to bear the frustration with ourselves and or resentment that may be experienced following an angry outburst, however, where we continue to feel angry for some time after an incident, or chronically angry, this may be a sign we are struggling to deal with our anger.
Ideally following an angry incident, you should be able to restore a calm and relaxed state (both physically and mentally) within a short period of time. Where an anger problem is left untreated, it has the ability to wreak havoc with both your mental (e.g. it may lead to depression and/or anxiety) and physical (e.g. high stress levels and/or high blood pressure) health.
You feel angry too often
Whether or not you express your anger, if you feel angry all or almost all of the time, this is a key sign you are having trouble managing your anger. Consistent anger issues can not only affect our personal health, but also the ability to maintain healthy relationships with others, in addition to our job and career.
You may feel constantly overwhelmed by negative and angry thoughts, and consistently feel irritated by and impatient towards others/particular situations that spark anger for you. If this is the case, or you additionally feel the need to conceal your anger, you may require professional help for managing your anger.
You feel the desire to or become aggressive
It is not uncommon for everyone to feel angry from time to time; anger is a normal human emotion, and in some cases can be functional and productive. However, in some cases where a person is unable to control their anger, this may lead to aggression. Aggression is very different to anger – a person who displays aggression (as a result of anger) may intentionally inflict harm or damage on an object or another person.
An individual can also experience aggressive thoughts (e.g. wanting to harm another person that has caused them frustration) without acting out the aggression. Whether or not you express your aggressive thoughts via means of verbal or physical abuse or destruction, experiencing aggression as a result of feeling angry is a sign you are having trouble managing your anger.
A person who lashes out as a result of anger may hit, throw, break, damage or destroy objects, slam doors, punch walls or other objects, experience road rage, drive recklessly, verbally or physically abuse another person (by means of shouting, yelling, name-calling and/or insulting others) and/or threaten or engage in violence.
When left unaddressed, aggression can have devastating consequences for an individual and the people around them, and it is therefore vital if you are experiencing feelings of aggression on a regular basis that you seek professional help.
You blame and criticise others
It is not uncommon for a person struggling to effectively manage their anger to blame others when something goes wrong (rather than being responsible for yourself). Directing the blame towards another person can be a simpler solution than having to face and interpret a challenging situation. However, criticising and blaming others for things when they go wrong is not the solution.
Additionally, when you feel compelled to criticise others (in order to feel better about yourself), this signals you are struggling internally with personal issues of your own. By criticising others in a way that belittles or upsets them (i.e. not constructive criticism), you not only upset others, but add to your own personal suffering long term.
You are unable to accept criticism
If you are unable to control your temper (or in some cases, shut down) when someone says something negative to you, this may be an indication you are having a hard time managing your anger. A person having difficulty effectively managing their anger may view constructive criticism as an insult to their abilities or authority/position. The ability to listen to and accept criticism (rather than get defensive and confrontational) is vital for personal development, not to mention for building solid relationships with other people.
You argue with others regularly, feel the need to win and hold grudges
Do you find yourself involved in arguments with other people (such as family, friends or colleagues) on a regular basis? In some cases, regular arguments (particularly those which quickly get out of hand) with others can be a sign you are finding it challenging managing your anger in a healthy way.
If you find yourself unable to see another person’s point of view (i.e. empathise with their situation or viewpoint) or to compromise with others, and always feel the need to win or have the upper hand, you may have an issue with managing your anger.
Ongoing feelings of bitterness and resentment towards others following an argument and the inability to forgive others or to forget the incident that occurred is also a sign an individual is grappling with an anger issue. A person struggling with anger may engage in the same arguments with others over and over, rather than facing up to the issue(s) at hand. Social isolation can occur where a person feeling especially angry ignores or refuse to talk to others that have “wronged” them.
Others fear you and highlight you have trouble managing your anger
We should never be required to feel fearful of other people and their inability to control their anger, and where family, friends and/or colleagues are fearful of an angry person and feel their safety or wellbeing is under threat, this is a clear sign they are having trouble managing their anger.
This feeling of fear is a result of an angry person’s consistent overreaction in the past to situations that are frustrating or annoying. Their angry words and or actions cause others around them to fear how they will react to future challenging situations. Where others display defensive or protective body language such as avoiding you or averting their eyes when you are angry, this is a sign they are fearful of you. If this is the case, you should not delay in seeking professional help.
The majority of people get angry from time to time when feeling particularly frustrated or annoyed with a situation, however, when others express you have an issue managing your anger, it is important to listen, as they may be correct. They may be able to assist you to identify where you have struggled to manage your temper in the past and where you can improve for the future.
Your anger is taking its toll on your physical and emotional health
It is important to listen to what your body is telling you, physically, mentally and emotionally, as it can indicate when you are struggling to deal with anger when it arises. Keep an eye out for the following physical symptoms of anger and notice how frequently and to what extent they affect you:
- clenching (jaw and/or fists)
- grinding your teeth
- pressure in your head or face
- muscle tension
- a rise in blood pressure
- rapid breathing
- increased heart rate
- chest tightness
- heart palpitations
- blushing, redness and/or flushing in the face
- raising of the voice
- pacing up and down our surroundings
- excessive perspiration
- shaking, trembling or tingling
- stomach aches
- cravings (e.g. for alcohol or cigarettes, as a means of relaxation)
Additionally, it can help to monitor the frequency and severity of the following emotional symptoms of anger:
- feeling sad, depressed and/or anxious
- feeling irritated or frustrated
- experiencing rage
- a desire to strike out at another person or situation verbally/physically
- cynicism, sarcasm and a reduced sense of humour
- feeling overwhelmed and wanting to escape a situation
- feeling guilty and resentful
- sleeping troubles
- withdrawal from family and friends
Where your anger is frequently and significantly impacting your physical and emotional wellbeing in a negative way, you may need assistance managing your anger more effectively.
Your anger is negatively impacting your life
When you are suffering from frequent angry outbursts whereby you lose control of your anger, it has the ability to negatively impact many facets of your life.
Other than your own personal emotional, mental and physical health, if your anger is not under control, it can largely affect the lives of people around you, including your partner, family, friends, colleagues and even strangers, in some cases. If your anger is hurting the people you love or people in your workplace (be it emotionally and/or physically), this is a sign you need assistance effectively managing your anger. When left untreated, a serious anger issue can cause breakdowns of relationships and friendships with the people you care about most.
Anger that is not addressed can also drastically affect your employment, and in some cases can even result in lost employment.
If when drinking alcohol you become particularly aggressive or violent towards objects or worse, other people, it is crucial you seek professional help for anger as soon as possible.
Your anger is affecting your mental wellbeing
When your angry feelings are turned inwards, you may find yourself criticising and picking yourself apart and blaming yourself for things that have not gone the way you had expected or hoped. Anger turned inwards can negatively impact your self-esteem and self-confidence and cause you to feel depressed.
Avoidance of certain social settings or other situations which may induce an angry outburst and feeling worried about how you may react when something goes wrong may be a sign that you are also suffering from anxiety and/or depression in addition to trouble managing your anger. (In some cases, depression and/or anxiety can be the cause of anger, and in other instances, anger can cause a person to suffer from anxiety and/or depression). If you are feeling anxious or depressed in addition to having difficulty managing your anger, do not delay in seeking professional help.
Your anger concerns you
If you are worried about your anger (e.g. with regards to how regularly you feel angry, the severity of your anger/inability to control it appropriately, and how your anger is impacting your health/life and those around you), this indicates you need professional assistance to learn how to better control your anger.
Recognising and acknowledging you are having trouble managing your anger is not always easy. By learning about the signs that may indicate you are having difficulty dealing with your anger, you can help yourself to recognise if anger is an issue for you. It is vital that you seek help where you recognise anger is a problem, so as to reduce the risk of damaging your personal health, happiness, relationships with friends and family and career. Anger issues left unchecked have the potential to result in devastating consequences, especially where uncontrolled anger develops into aggression and violent behaviour.
If you are struggling to manage your anger, get in touch with our friendly team today and book your first session to help you feel calmer once more to start the first step towards managing your anger.