Do you spend a lot of time feeling angry, resentful or irritable? Do you think it's related to the people in your life, or does it come from inside yourself? How do you handle it?
If you feel angry more often than you'd like, you're probably looking for a good way to manage it. As with most everything, your ability to manage your anger has to begin with understanding it. So let's start with this one.
Anger doesn't make you bad.
The first thing you need to know is that you're not weird or horrible - anger is a normal human reaction to things like injustice, poor treatment of yourself and others and a whole host of other issues and situations.
"The emotion of anger is neither good nor bad," according to HelpGuide.org. "It’s perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged. The feeling isn't the problem—it's what you do with it that makes a difference. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you or others."
Feel like your anger is unhealthy? Maybe you're dealing with narcissistic rage.
You've got to let out your anger.
Often times, and especially when we're in a difficult relationship with someone, we hold our tongues when we have anger. Sometimes we do this because we realize we aren't being logical, but other times we do it because we are trying to avoid confrontation or upset in a relationship.
Sometimes, people want to make you feel crazy. If you think you might be dealing with someone who intentionally creates chaos for you, you might be dealing with a narcissist. Find out the top ten warning signs of narcissism in a relationship.
But when it comes to anger, it can almost literally eat you alive if you push it down for too long - eventually, you need a way to express it. If you don't have a trusted friend or family member you can turn to, there are plenty of "safe" ways you can release your anger - such as joining a support group, finding a therapist or even journaling or blogging about your issues.
One thing to avoid: don't post your drama publicly on your social media accounts. This will only lead to trouble and additional drama in your life.
Look outside your own head and gain new perspective.
While expressing your anger is important, it's equally important to do so in a healthy and productive way. If you scream at your child for an hour, does it really do anything to benefit the relationship?
If arguing with your spouse brings out your inner "mean girl," causing you to say the most hurtful things you can think of, maybe you need to come up with a better way to cope with your anger. See, even when you "get over it," your spouse won't be able to forget the things you said. This is another way to damage your relationships.
Need-to-Know Anger Facts from HelpGuide.org.
- Out-of-control anger hurts your physical health. Constantly operating at high levels of stress and tension is bad for your health. Chronic anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
- Out-of-control anger hurts your mental health. Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy and clouds your thinking, making it harder to concentrate, see the bigger picture, and enjoy life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
- Out-of-control anger hurts your career. Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be healthy. But lashing out only alienates your colleagues, supervisors, or clients and erodes their respect. What’s more, a bad reputation can follow you wherever you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead.
- Out-of-control anger hurts your relationships with others. It causes lasting scars in the people you love most and gets in the way of your friendships and work relationships. Chronic, intense anger makes it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly, or feel comfortable—they never know what is going to set you off or what you will do. Explosive anger is especially damaging to children.
What makes us feel angry?
Do you feel angry a lot? Maybe it manifests as a feeling of just being irritated and annoyed by everything that surrounds you?
Anger and irritability can be a serious challenge, but understanding its causes can help you find a solution that brings you relief. You've got to love yourself enough to want to feel better and to improve your relationships.
Some dynamics of anger
- We become more angry when we are stressed and body resources are down.
- We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
- We are often angry when we didn't get what we needed as a child.
- We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can't stand in ourselves.
- Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas, and triggers.
- Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child.
- We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past.
- We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.
Source: Get Your Angries Out
Here are some of the most common causes of anger.
- Low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia, also known as low blood sugar, can make adults and children irritable. Low blood sugar levels can be caused by diabetes, medications, or stress. In addition, forgetting to eat or not eating enough food can trigger the issue.
Tip: You can raise your blood sugar level back up by eating carbohydrates or taking medications.
2. Dehydration. Dehydration can change your mood quickly and make you frustrated. Not drinking enough water can affect your body and your mind. Even cases of mild dehydration can lead to mood swings and irritability. This issue can be solved by staying hydrated throughout the day.
3. Stress. Stress can make you feel angry, frustrated, and upset. Practice regular stress-relieving activities like yoga or meditation to help keep stress from building up inside you.
4. Anxiety disorders. Irritability can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Talk to your doctor if you suspect this is the cause and seek treatment. Anxiety disorders have multiple symptoms, but feelings of frustration and anger are common.
5. PTSD and CPTSD. Post-traumatic stress disorder is another common issue that has irritability as a symptom. Often, victims of narcissists in toxic relationships experience PTSD or CPTSD. Learn more.
6. Alzheimer's disease. Patients who have Alzheimer's disease often feel irritated and angry. Personality changes are a large component of the disorder, so patients frequently have mood swings. Irritability is a common issue that presents itself throughout the disease. It’s important to discuss your concerns about Alzheimer's disease with a doctor.
7. Hormonal changes. As bodies age, hormones can shift and change. Both men and women can experience hormonal changes. However, this issue is more frequently seen in women. In women, menopause and premenopause can create mood swings and feelings of frustration. Premenstrual syndrome is another culprit that can cause irritability.
Tip: Don't just accept your fate - find out what options are available to you for hormone management. You might be surprised when you consult with your doctor about various treatments for hormonal changes, which might include natural remedies, supplements, medications, and lifestyle changes.
8. Hyperthyroidism. Thyroid issues can create feelings of irritability among other symptoms. A thyroid that is not working properly can make you feel angry, frustrated, nervous, and anxious. Thyroid disease has a large impact on mood and can affect your mind.
9. Caffeine withdrawal. If you decide to stop drinking coffee or eliminate other sources of caffeine, then be prepared for the symptoms of withdrawal. One of the most common symptoms is irritability.
Tip: Caffeine addiction is real - trust me! To avoid feelings of irritation and frustration, you may want to gradually reduce your caffeine intake over time. Instead of going cold turkey, eliminate it slowly.
10. Depression. Although it’s not a symptom that is often associated with this disorder, irritability and unexpected anger can be a sign of depression. Other symptoms such as sadness and withdrawal are more common, but irritability shouldn’t be ignored.
Did you know?
Irritability is more frequently seen as a symptom of depression in teenagers and young children. They may have trouble expressing themselves, so frustration is high.
Researchers have documented cases in children and teenagers that reveal they may not have sadness as a symptom. Instead, they try to express their depression through anger and irritability. It’s important to discuss all of these symptoms with your doctor and seek help.
Knowledge is power, and you deserve to be powerful.
Anger and irritability are optional, I promise, and they certainly do not have to control your life.
You get to make the choices in your life. You can't change others, but you can change your perspective. And that, my friend, means you can change you whole life.
Now that you've got a clearer understanding of anger, the causes of anger and how you can manage it, you can make the choices you want to make to improve your health and your life.
Next time you feel anger, I want you to ask yourself: is this anger justified? And if so, is it helping me to improve my life or anyone else's?
My litmus test is simple - either it's helping to improve the situation, or it's not. Even if it's justified, it's not always productive - so why bring any additional negative energy to yourself?
What do you think? What are your top anger-management tools? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.