What is anger?
Anger is an emotion. It can provide us with information about ourselves, our immediate environment and the nature of our relationships. We can ask "why am I reacting this way?". This can guide us to make decisions and take better care of ourselves.
However, sometimes the way we express anger can cause problems. It can lead to arguments and sometimes violence. It is associated with unhelpful beliefs about other people, events and ourselves. It can also make us feel hot, tense, dizzy and breathless.
It is not people or events that make us angry. Rather it is our reaction to them.
Some people are more likely to feel angry or fly into a rage. This might be because they find it hard to cope with feelings like frustration. Sometimes experiences from childhood can be at the root of this. In this situation, learning to tolerate anger and other emotions is really helpful (See Dealing with feelings in Related sections on the right).
Other people can experience anger because they have been traumatised in adulthood (see Trauma in Related sections on the right). They may also need help to deal with the trauma as well as their anger.
But in any situation where anger is causing problems there are things that we can learn that can help.
We can do this by looking at our thoughts. We can then learn to question them. It is also helpful to learn how to control the physical symptoms of anger. This can be done by taking time out from the situation that made us feel angry and by learning how to relax.
People can often feel angry because they are expecting a lot of themselves or other people. If we hold very high expectations then we are frequently left feeling let down. This can lead to us feeling resentful. If this is the case it is important to think about how realistic our expectations are. Sometimes unrealistic expectations can be linked to perfectionism.
More information on learning how to cope with anger can be found in the resources on the right.
When Anger is Justified
Our anger can be justified. For example, it is perfectly normal to feel angry if we have been abused or treated unfairly. Sometimes people (particularly women) are frightened to acknowledge that they feel angry and that this anger makes sense given what they have experienced.
In situations where our anger is a normal reaction then it is important to find a way to express our anger constructively. It might be helpful to take our anger out using some kind of physical activity (for example, kick boxing or running) or it might help to things down, e.g. to write a letter (not necessarily to send!) but writing down how we feel in this way often helps.
Further resources can be found on the right.