The difficulties we encounter in life come from all sorts of directions. Work can be a huge source of stress, and your boss may be giving you lots of work, tight deadlines, and very little support. The people in your life, such as friends or family members, may be affecting your mental and emotional health by having unrealistic expectations of you.
Your environment, including the broader culture, political distress, and economic uncertainties may also contribute to the sense that things are out of control. If you’re honest with yourself, sometimes you even trip yourself up and find you are the major cause of distress in your life.
Yes, things at work are rough, but did you have to snap at your colleague that way? And why did you take it out on your spouse and kids when you go home? Sometimes, our reaction to things itself complicates matters further, and we’re aware that a more measured response would have led to a better outcome.
One way we respond to stress is with anger which can escalate conflict and magnify our distress. Anger is a natural, but powerful emotion that is typically a response to distress whether that’s the violation of a personal boundary or feeling threatened in some way.
While anger is natural and ought not to be suppressed, simply letting your anger loose and going wherever it leads is a bad idea. Anger is a powerful torrential force like a river. Rivers can be harnessed for constructive purposes, and if you direct your anger in constructive ways, it can help you address issues of concern. However, just like a river in flood that’s bursting its banks, anger that’s let loose can be destructive.
The key is to express your anger, but clearly and assertively that doesn’t harm others.
What are anger issues? Knowing the signs.
If you have an issue with something, that usually means that it bothers you, you struggle with it, you can’t handle what it does to you, or it causes you to depart from your normal healthy functioning. If you have anger issues, that means that you struggle to handle anger constructively. Some of the signs of anger issues include the following:
Anger is a near-constant companion. Do things that anger people happen? Of course they do. We all have different things that make us angry. Some of us have an issue with untidiness, while others can’t stand to see any form of injustice, and yet others do not like being challenged or questioned. When your anger is well-regulated, it comes and goes, and it’s not dominating your emotional landscape.
However, if anger is the dominant emotion in your life, and you find yourself feeling angry most of all of the time, then you may have an issue with anger. It may also point to the possibility that you have a very low anger threshold.
An anger threshold is a point at which the feeling of mild annoyance becomes something more significant. Having a high anger threshold means that you don’t get angry easily. It takes a lot to make you feel angry.
If you are a parent, and you find that your kids are emulating your patterns of anger and consider it normal, you should pay attention as that is a serious warning sign.
Anger has tanked your relationships. Anger can have the effect of loosening your inhibitions, and that often results in saying and doing things that you wouldn’t say or do under normal circumstances.
Words spoken in anger are often quickly regretted, but by that time the damage has already been done. It’s hard to take back harsh words, even if what was said is fundamentally true. If your anger leads to acts of physical violence, that not only damages trust, but feelings of safety too.
When looking back at your life, if you see that some important relationships have fallen apart, think about the root cause of that. If you see anger at work, then that is a good sign that you may have anger issues.
You keep your anger to yourself. Anger tells us that something in our world isn’t quite right. It’s meant to spur us toward action to repair whatever is wrong. In that sense, anger is an emotion that is meant to be expressed, whether in words or actions.
Keeping your anger bottled up defeats the purpose of repair. Anger is meant to be expressed, and suppressing it (consciously holding it back) or repressing it (unconsciously restraining it) can lead to any number of devastating negative impacts on a person’s life.
Some people direct their anger inward, and that looks like a lot of negative self-talk or even self-harm. Anger that’s held onto and not expressed in healthy ways can also lead to negative health outcomes such as heart trouble, high blood pressure, and mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety.
Legal trouble attends your anger. We’ve said before that anger is an emotion that requires expression. That expression, however, mustn’t be harmful either to you or others. When you can express your anger in an assertive way (which is different from aggression) and without harming others, that is a mature and healthy articulation of anger.
If you express your anger in ways that break social norms and legal regulations, you may have anger issues. If you can’t rein your anger in enough to see that you’re going to land yourself in trouble, your anger is more in control of you than you are of it.
If you’ve gotten into trouble with the law because your anger led you to harm someone or their property, or into making a public disturbance that got the police involved, you may have anger issues.
Your loved ones are concerned about your anger. The people in your life, those who know you best, are the ones who are most likely to have your best interests at heart. Of course, you may also think they are the greatest sources of aggravation in your life, but those two things can both be true at the same time.
If those loved ones in your life are concerned about your anger, if it makes them afraid to be with you or near you, or if they avoid you when you’re angry these are signs of a temper that’s out of control. If someone you love and trust has said to you that you’ve got a problem with anger, take those words seriously.
The effects on your life.
The effects of anger issues include broken and unstable relationships, health issues, legal troubles, and living an existence without flourishing. Anger has its uses in our lives, but it isn’t meant to dominate them. That is why it’s important if you suspect you may have anger issues, that you address them as soon as possible.
How to address anger issues.
Anger issues can stem from any number of environmental and physical causes. If you’re experiencing unusual stress from work, one way that it may manifest is through irritability and being short with your loved ones.
Mental health problems like depression, dementia, and bipolar disorder can have symptoms such as anger outbursts. Things like poor sleep can undermine your emotional capacity and ability to handle emotions such as anger very well. Additionally, hormonal imbalances can also contribute to struggles to constructively handle anger. Testosterone and thyroid hormones can affect one’s anger and cause mood swings.
Anger issues don’t necessarily stem from one place, and that is why seeking the help of professionals is important. A doctor can eliminate some of the possible physiological causes of anger issues, while a mental health professional can help ascertain if depression is an underlying cause of your anger issues.
A counselor can help you discern any learned behaviors or patterns in your life that contribute to anger issues and unhealthy expressions of anger. Sometimes, we learn about anger from our parents or other influential figures, and a person either holds back or expresses their anger in harmful ways because of what they’ve seen modeled to them.
Your counselor can help you understand these patterns, and also help you substitute these unhealthy ways of thinking and doing things for healthy ones. They can also provide you with tools to help you express anger constructively. Your anger doesn’t have to control you. Reach out and find help to bring your anger under control by contacting our office today.
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