What is Anger?

Anger is a result of thinking that we have been unfairly treated or disrespected, or that others have broken or fallen short of our rules, standards  or expectations, and we won’t stand for it.

Thinking this way leads us to feel angry, which stimulates the body’s adrenaline response which is our body’s way of helping us to cope with either fighting, or running away (‘fight or flight’ response).    We respond to those thoughts and feelings, by acting, or feeling an urge to act, in threatening or aggressive ways.

Thoughts that often occur:
1. I’m being treated unfairly
2. I’m being disrespected
3. They’re breaking a rule or standard
4. I won’t stand for it

Physical Sensations – The Adrenaline Response
When there is real, or we believe there is a real, threat or danger, our bodies’ automatic survival mechanism kicks in very quickly.  This helps energise us to fight or run away (‘fight or flight response’).  We will notice lots of physical sensations, which might include:
1. heart racing or pounding – enabling good blood supply around our bodies
2. breathing quickly – allowing more oxygen around the body
3. tense muscles – a state of readiness to fight or flee
4. shaking
5. hot, sweating
6. light-headed
7. stomach churning or butterflies
8. fist or teeth clenching

Behaviours might include:
1. staring & facial expression
2. aggressive body posture
3. attack
4. hit out (or urge to hit out)
5. argue
6. shout
7. run or storm away
8. don’t talk
9. sulk

The Anger Cycle

We all feel angry some times. Some people tend to become angry easily (a “short fuse”), and some have problems controlling their anger. Anger has consequences, and they often involve hurting other people – more usually their feelings, but sometimes physically.  Anger can cause problems in our personal lives, and affect work and study.  After an angry outburst, we can think very critically of ourselves and our actions, leading us to feel guilty, ashamed and lower our mood, which might result in our withdrawing from others, not wanting to do anything.