We all have felt angry at least once in our lives. Anger is a natural reaction characterised by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has intentionally done you wrong. When we are angry, we don’t usually use the brain cortex but rather the limbic system – home of complex emotions, including anger. The amygdala is the main structure involved in the appearance of anger, and when the amygdala is active, reason does not matter so much anymore, consequences are not taken into consideration, hence a loss of control may result.
Contrary to popular belief, anger is not always a bad thing – it can give you a way to release negative feelings or motivate you in resolving your problems. However, when your anger becomes excessive and is already causing more damage than good to you and your personal relationships, this is where you must draw the line and think about what actions to take in order to get control back in your life.
If you have difficulty regulating your anger, your temper hurts others around you, or you express your emotions in unhealthy ways, you may need help with your anger. In this piece, we have listed some of the signs and symptoms that may guide you in assessing if the anger you’re experiencing is still considered normal, so you can get the professional help you need to break this bad and unhealthy cycle.
Recognise Anger Symptoms
When a person has anger management issues, he/she normally experiences both emotional and physical changes that can ruin the balance in his/her life. In order to effectively manage your anger, the first step that one should take is to identify when you feel angry. Some people who suffer from anger management issues have difficulty identifying when they are experiencing intermediate anger states, but fortunately, most patients experience a number of emotional and physical cues that can indicate when they start becoming upset.
Some of the emotional symptoms of anger include:
- constant irritability and rage
- fantasising about hurting yourself or others
- wanting to get away from the situation
- having trouble organising or managing your thoughts
- feeling sad, depressed and/or anxious following an angry outburst
- feeling guilty
- feeling resentful
- striking out verbally or physically
- feeling overwhelmed
Some of the physical symptoms of anger include:
- clenching your jaw
- increased and rapid heart rate
- grinding your teeth
- stomach aches
- sweating, especially your palms
- trembling or shaking
- feeling hot in the neck/face
Signs It Is Time to Seek Help for Anger Issues
If you are worried that you or someone you know may have anger management difficulties, you should look for the following patterns of behaviour:
More often than not, when we are frustrated over something and it does not turn out the way we hoped, anger may follow, if we do not utilise our positive coping skills. For some people, this kind of situation can lead to unsafe thoughts that could potentially lead to hurting oneself.
Inward aggression may take different forms, such as telling yourself that you hate yourself or denying your body its basic needs, such as food or the things that make you happy. Others may isolate themselves from family and friends as some form of self-punishment.
Self-harm may start as a spur-of-the-moment outlet for anger, such as punching a wall, and then develop into a major way of coping with frustration and stress. Most people who inflict self-injury believe that it is his/her only way to release their intense emotions.
Anger is a completely normal and sometimes healthy human response that everyone experiences from time to time. When properly managed, it can actually serve a beneficial purpose. However, when anger gives rise to aggression, this is where it becomes a problem. When your temper gets out of control and turns disturbing, this can cause detrimental effects at work and among your personal relationships.
People who have aggressive thoughts may have a desire to harm another person they feel has deliberately mistreated them or intentionally caused them stress and frustration. These aggressive thoughts are normally expressed through verbal abuse, or sometimes, actual and intentional infliction of physical violence towards other people. Some release their aggression by breaking, hitting, throwing or destroying things, punching walls, driving recklessly or by shouting, shaming, threatening or insulting another person.
Anger can be very destructive if you do not know how to release it in a positive way, as you will always feel as if you’re at the mercy of uncontrollable emotions. If left untreated, anger and aggression can really take a toll on your life, potentially causing devastating consequences that can ruin your overall wellbeing.
Unable to Accept Criticism
When a person is unable to manage their temper properly and has the tendency to react violently and get irritated easily when they are called out for his/her bad behaviour, that person may have difficulty accepting criticism.
A person’s capacity to take criticism constructively heavily relies on how secure they feel about himself/herself. A person who cannot control their anger properly may take constructive criticism as an insult or personal attack to their competence, intelligence or even to their authority. Knowing how to properly take criticism by listening attentively and taking each comment as an avenue to improve oneself is important for personal growth. Instead of interrupting and saying mean things to get even, try to treat each criticism as a building block in unlocking your full potential, which can be very beneficial in creating stronger ties with other people.
Criticising and Blaming Other People
We all have our go-to reaction when treated badly. Some people may find comfort in taking a quiet moment and thinking about what just happened, while others may instantly lash out and annihilate the other person.
Criticising and blaming others for our anger can be subtle or blatant. It can be expressed in the actual words we utter, but what’s more damaging, is if it’s in the subtler form, as the victim may have difficulty spotting it.
A person who cannot manage his/her anger properly has the tendency to belittle or insult others regarding what they’re most insecure about, in an attempt to feel better about themselves. This behaviour is not only debilitating to the person attacked, but also has an adverse effect to the overall wellbeing of the person who uttered it, as they cannot find a better outlet for their anger and frustrations in life.
When you cannot seem to stop yourself from reliving the resentment or bad feelings of the same issue over and over again, you may still be carrying grudges towards someone who has wronged you in the past.
Holding a grudge is typically connected with having anger management issues. People tend to keep dwelling on the hurt and the circumstances behind it, which only makes their life miserable and filled with bitterness. Most people rarely want to hang around with someone who is consistently negative and bitter. This behaviour robs you of the happiness of your life, the chance to enjoy your present surroundings and experiences and can potentially bleed into every relationship you have.
Picking Fights with Others Regularly
If you constantly find yourself in an argument with other people, you might be having a hard time controlling your anger. Getting involved in a fight is part of the ordinary course of life; it can be helpful because it may serve as a healthy avenue for expressing grievances and misunderstanding between partners, and even among friends and family members. However, when you find yourself engaging in disagreements on a regular basis, it might be time to sit back and think about the main cause of your inability to compromise or empathise with other people.
A person who cares about other people’s feelings does not easily utter degrading comments. A person who has anger management issues may resort to this kind of behaviour and may not even feel bad for what they’ve said, as they are only concerned about winning arguments, being superior or having the upper hand in the relationship. This creates a toxic environment for the people around them. They engage in the same arguments with others, without the intention of discussing the main issue at hand. Instead, they just bring up the same fight over and over, so as to make the other person/people involved feel bad about the situation.
Others Fear You and Highlight You Have Trouble Managing Your Anger
When other people fear you for being easily irritated or being violent due to your inability to control your emotions, this should serve as a warning sign for you to take your anger management seriously. This is a clear indication that anger is already gaining control over your life, instead of you over your emotions.
The people around you should never be afraid of getting near you or confronting you about what they think is ruining your personal relationships. Using demeaning words and being abrasive may get the instant satisfaction you want, but this may hurt your bond with other people long term.
Try to listen to what your loved ones have to say, instead of being defensive and ruthless. When others are displaying protective body gestures such as averting their eyes, intentionally avoiding interactions with you or openly manifesting their fear for their safety when you’re around, it is best to immediately seek for help. This indicates your behaviour has reached the point that you’re already posing as a threat to other people.
Anger Is Taking Its Toll on Your Mental Health
Anger only becomes a problem when it occurs too frequently and too intensely that it interferes with your personal life. You may not notice this, but being unable to control your anger can also have a disparaging effect on your mental wellbeing.
Most people who find it hard to manage their anger have the tendency to criticise and blame themselves when things do not go the way they expected. This may lead to depression and/or anxiety and some people opt to separate themselves from the world in order to avoid the possibility of angry outbursts.
If you are worried that feelings of anxiety and depression might be due to your anger management issues, do not hesitate to reach out to your family and friends, so they can help you get the professional assistance you need.
Other behavioural patterns that indicate it’s about time to seek help in managing your anger include:
- your anger is negatively impacting your life
- your anger concerns you
- you lose your temper or become extremely angry or violent when consuming alcohol
- struggling to arrive easily at a mutual agreement without getting violent and hostile
- feeling angry long after a situation has concluded
- persistently feeling the need to win
- difficulty expressing emotions in a calm and healthy manner
- cycles of unhealthy behaviour, which may be affecting relationships
- refusing to speak to people
Being able to react constructively when you’re facing a distressing situation without losing your temper can help you feel more in control of your life. Gaining control over your anger will help you to properly deal with your feelings because you are using your anger effectively, allowing yourself to focus your energies on more important things in your life, ultimately granting you a greater sense of achievement and purpose.
Getting upset over something happens to all of us and that’s completely normal. What’s not normal is using this as a license to lose control and emotionally or physically harm the people around you. As much as they don’t deserve getting hurt, you also don’t deserve it either. If you think you have a bad temper and you’re already causing hurt to yourself and the people you value most, it’s imperative to re-evaluate yourself and seek professional help. Get in touch with our friendly team at Brain Wellness Spa today before your anger creates irreparable damages.