Anger is an instinctual emotional response from a real or imagined threat. Anger is painful and we need to get relief. Most feel angry when someone or something obstructs them in some way.
And many people respond to the feeling of anger by immediately wanting the satisfaction of forcing the “obstacle” to get out of the way—or, if it won’t move, to curse it and insult it.
Anger can be understood in terms of five purposes:
– We feel hurt and want to get even to make things “fair”
– We feel helpless and want to get control to prevent disaster
Pushing others away
– We feel discouraged and want to withdraw from life to avoid being judged
– We feel disrespected and lash out to get acknowledgement or prove our importance
Expressing difficult feelings
– We feel overwhelmed and want to get relief to reduce our discomfort
When we do not understand how to effectively deal with anger, we often choose coping methods that are harmful. The following are examples of inappropriate coping methods:
Putting Anger Down – We deny anger or repress it. Some of us like to keep our nice person image and not “make waves.” Perhaps we say to ourselves that the situation is not important and “swallow our anger.”
Putting Anger Off – We think we can put off the situation, not get angry, and deal with the situation later.
Transferring Anger – We are nice to people who make us angry, but we are hateful to those who love us. An example of this is when a father’s boss criticizes him at work. The father is angry with the boss but does not acknowledge his anger, perhaps out of fear of losing his job. Then when his child leaves toys on the floor, the father responds angrily. The father is really angry with his boss, but the child received the outburst of expressed anger.
Deadening of Feelings – People who can’t cope with their anger and are afraid to express it often choose to not feel at all. Their reasoning is that, if they don’t feel, then they can’t be hurt. This is a very dangerous method as it puts them out of touch with their own feelings.
Staying in Control – Some people think that they must always be in control of a situation. To them, “loss of control” would be unthinkable. Anger is viewed as a weakness.