What Makes You Angry & Why?
Anger is a form of feedback. It is a feedback that you believe something unfair is happening to you. Whether this is for real or not is a separate question all together; but for you this is real. So question yourself, what happened that you are angry about and why are you angry about it? And answer in terms specific to you.
The same event (what) that angers you might not anger someone else. Because your interpretation and someone else’s interpretation of the situation is different. So why are you angry? What do you believe is happening with you that is making you angry? Keep asking this question again and again and jot down as many answers as you get. In the beginning, you might feel a lot of resistance. Work towards answering the question even then.
Who Makes You Angry?
Who are you truly angry at? Is it the person you are blaming for your anger or someone else ? Do you remove your work related frustration on your family? Are you impatient and angry with your colleagues because of some personal family matters? Sometimes, people are just unlucky to cross you on a wrong day at a wrong time.
Who are you truly angry at? Is it you who you are angry at? But because you can’t remove anger on yourself, you remove it on others. Do you remove anger those who take all anger treatment you give them because they are afraid of you or they love you? Do you direct all your anger towards one person you know you are safe to be angry with?
When & Where Do You Get Angry?
Sometimes, we are prone to anger in specific time or place – early in the morning, late in the evening, noon time, breakfast table, living room, in car during peak hours etc. Of course, it’s not time/place that makes us angry, but it’s a big signal that something is consistently going wrong over there which we need to pay attention to.
Is it early morning at breakfast table? Could be you are always hurried, running each minute to finish task and reach office on time. Or maybe you are tired and still sleepy, droopy because of lack of sleep.
Is it late in the evening in living room? Could be you are tired, exhausted from your long work day. You want to relax but are bugged to find loads of work to do. You expect quiet time, but your house is filled with noise – television, phone calls, kids playing etc.
When and where are both different questions to be answered separately. However, since the logic of asking them overlaps, they have been put together to avoid repetition.
How Do You Get Angry?
Your mind moves from a non-anger to anger mode and then manages to stay in anger for a long time. The event which triggered anger got over in a few seconds. But anger persists in mind. This proves that you have a major role to play in how you become angry. You have to think certain thoughts, take certain actions to get angry. What are these thoughts and actions?
How you get angry is a chain of small processes – think this, feel that, act like this, think like that … it’s cyclical and fast. At first, you don’t have to do anything except watch your mind make you angry. See how it works, what memory it triggers, what weaknesses of yours does it use, what conclusions it jumps to. Don’t think, analyze or try to stop this process for time being. Don’t reason with it’s logic. Simply observe and know what it does.
The more you do this, the more conscious you will become of this entire process. With time, you will be able to catch yourself at start of the process effortlessly. This is when you get the power to direct mind in a new direction and create better processes for yourself.
Are You Really Angry?
We all have our own comfort level with different emotions. Sometimes, when we feel uncomfortable with feelings of guilt, shame, hurt etc we jump to anger. We train ourselves to become angry in case any of these emotions rise – because we are not comfortable with them and wish to deny them. In this case, anger is really not the first reaction that we gave to stimuli. It is just a preferred way to projecting another emotion. Anger is also known as a secondary emotion in this case.
The more you stay with and answer these questions, the better you will know yourself and your anger. With enough information you will be able to understand and diagnose the real reason for your anger. And correct diagnosis will of course lead to correct method of anger treatment.
1. How does anger make you feel?
2. How much time do you spend feeling angry?
3. How has anger affected your sleep patterns?
4. How has anger affected your breathing?
5. How has anger affected your digestion?
6. How has anger affected your performance at work?
7. How has anger affected your relationships with your family?
8. How has anger affected your relationships with friends?
Take some time to write down your honest answers to these questions.
What You Say To Yourself About The Event
Determines Your Anger Response
You Turn Your Anger On the Other Person and Become an Aggressor
- I'll show him
- It's not fair
- That jerk
- I hate him
- I'll show him
Inner Angers - You Become a Victim by Beating Yourself Up or Allowing Others To Beat You Up
- I'm devalued
- I'm exposed
- He doesn't care
- I'm wrong
- I'm guilty (bad)
Withdrawal/Hide from Threat or Stressor - You Run Away and Don't Deal With It
- I can't deal with this
- This is danger
- I'm being attacked
- Let me out of here
Divert/Scatter the Energy of the Threat or Stressor--You Change the Subject
- Let's joke
- I'll divert attention
- I feel sick
Deal With It! Good Mental Health Statements To Keep You Focused When Upset
- I'm in charge here
- I'll breathe and deal with this
- I feel___ when you___
- We can talk about this
- I can handle this
- Let's take time out to cool down and come back
- I'm safe. It's okay
- Yes, I'm angry and I'll just watch what I'm thinking
These statements are called resilient words. They empower you by reminding you that you are in charge not your anger.
Gaining Understanding, Compassion and Forgiveness
Now it is time to explore motivation. Get into the other guys shoes. See how they feel. Walk in them for awhile.
1. Ask yourself why the other person might have done what he or she did?
2. Ask yourself what kind of pressures or concerns the other person might have had?
3. Ask yourself what other factors might have influenced the other person to act the way they did?
4. Ask yourself was the other person was doing the best they could in that moment?
Gaining this understanding can be very powerful.
Do you allow anger to motivate you in a positive direction?
OPEN, HONEST AND DIRECT EXPRESSION is the most effective way of managing anger.
Easier said than done! When expressing anger directly, keep these important skills in mind…
Remind yourself that anger is a normal, human emotion. It’s OK to feel angry.
Be open, honest and direct evaluating the following:
What is the triggering event?
Is this a good time to speak to the person whom I’m feeling angry towards?
Set a specific time limit for the discussion about the event that is creating anger for you.
- Remember your body language.
- Firm voice, moderate tone, direct eye contact
- Place yourself at a comfortable distance from the person whom you are speaking with.
- Sit at an even eye level with the other person.
- Don’t attack or blame the person
- Focus on the specific behavior that triggered your anger.
- Avoid black and white thinking. (“You never…”)
- Instead, “I’d prefer that…, then I would feel…”
- “I” feel angry when…” “I” feel angry that…”
- Avoid statements / actions that you’ll regret later.
- Don’t drag in old issues now.
- Check for possible compromises.
- After open, honest and direct expression, close the discussion, and then move on!
Ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you might have anger problems.
Note: This test is an informal screening test to help you find out more information about your own feelings and expressions of anger. It is not intended to be a formal assessment.
Answer True if you agree with the statement or False if you disagree with the statement to the following questions. Be honest, not a "lip-service honest," but fearlessly and searchingly honest. There is much to gain and you don't have to share the results with anyone but yourself.
- I use abusive language, such as, name-calling, insults, sarcasm or swearing.
- People tell me that I become too angry, too quickly.
- I am easily annoyed and irritated and then it takes a long time to calm down.
- When I think about the bad things people did to me or the unfair deals that I have gotten in life, I still get angry.
- I often make critical, judgmental comments to others, even if they do not ask for my advice or help.
- I use passive - aggressive behaviors, such as ignoring the other person or promising to do something and then “forgetting” about it to get the other person to leave me alone.
- At times, I use aggressive body language and facial expressions, like clenching my fists, staring at someone, or deliberately looking intimidating.
- When someone does or says something that angers me, I spend a lot of time thinking about what cutting replies I should have used at the time or how I can get revenge.
- I use self-destructive behaviors to calm down after an angry outburst such as drinking alcohol or using drugs, gambling, eating too much and vomiting, or cutting myself.
- When I get really angry about something, I sometimes feel physically sick (headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) after the incident.
- It is very hard to forgive someone who has hurt me even when they have apologized and seem very sorry for having hurt me.
- I always have to win an argument and prove that I am “right.”
- I usually make excuses for my behavior and blame other people or circumstances for my anger (like job stress, financial problems, etc.)
- I react to frustration so badly that I cannot stop thinking about it or I can’t sleep at night because I think about things that have made me angry.
- After arguing with someone, I often hate myself for losing my temper.
- Sometimes I feel so angry that I’ve thought about killing another person or killing myself.
- I get so angry that sometimes I forget what I said or did.
- I know that some people are afraid of me when I get angry or they will “walk on eggshells” to avoid getting me upset.
- At times I have gotten so angry that I have slammed doors, thrown things, broken items, or punched walls.
- I have been inappropriately jealous and possessive of my partner, accusing him or her of cheating - even when there was no evidence that my partner was being unfaithful.
- Sometimes I have forced my partner to do sexual behavior that he or she does not want to do, or I have threatened to cheat on my partner if he/she does not do what I want them to do to please me sexually.
- At times I have ignored my partner on purpose to hurt him or her, but have been overly nice to other family members or friends.
- I have kept my partner dependent on me or socially isolated so that I can control and manipulate their feelings and actions so they will not leave me or end our relationship.
- I have used threats to get my way or win an argument.
- I feel that people have betrayed me a lot in the past and I have a hard time trusting anyone.
- I've had trouble on the job because of my temper.
- People say that I fly off the handle easily.
- I don't always show my anger, but when I do, look out.
- I still get angry when I think of the bad things
- people did to me in the past.
- I hate lines, and I especially hate waiting in line.
- I often find myself engaged in heated arguments with the people who are close to me.
- At times I've felt angry enough to kill.
- When someone says or does something that upsets me, I don't usually say anything at the time, but later I spend a lot of time thinking of cutting replies I could and should have made.
- I find it very hard to forgive someone who has done me wrong.
- I get angry with myself when I lose control of my emotions.
- I get aggravated when people don't behave the way they should.
- If I get really upset about something, I have a tendency to feel sick later (frequently experiencing weak spells, headaches, upset stomach or diarrhea).
When I'm angry:
- I don’t have the right to be angry.
- I may lose my job, or a relationship.
- Anger is inappropriate or childish.
- I fear I will hurt or offend someone.
- I may lose control of myself.
- I can’t cope with strong feelings.
- People will dislike me if I show anger.
- Withdraw emotionally
- Deny anger, but show it in other actions
- Give the “silent treatment”
- Become ill or anxious
- Blowing up at people
- Flying off the handle at small things
- Getting physical or hurting people
- Bringing up old grievances
- Threatening, shouting or swearing
- Blaming people
- Breaking things
- I need to assert my power over people.
- The best defense is a good offense.
- I’m afraid of getting close to someone.
- I can’t stand to be wrong.
- I don’t know how to communicate calmly when angry.
When I’m angry, I want to solve the problem that’s causing my anger. I want to be able to express anger appropriately.
- When things don't go my way, I "lose it."
- I am apt to take frustration so badly that I cannot put it out of my mind.
- I've been so angry at times I couldn't remember what I said or did.
- Sometimes I feel so hurt and alone that I've thought about killing myself.
- After arguing with someone, I despise myself.
- When riled, I often blurt out things I later regret saying.
- Some people are afraid of my bad temper.
- When I get angry, frustrated or hurt, I comfort myself by eating or using alcohol or other drugs.
- When someone hurts me, I want to get even.
- I've gotten so angry at times that I've become physically violent, hitting other people or breaking things.
- I sometimes lie awake at night thinking about the things that upset me during the day.
- People I've trusted have often let me down, leaving me feeling angry or betrayed.
- I'm an angry person. My temper has already caused lots of problems, and I need help changing it.
What is your habitual anger style? When you are angry, which Anger Style do you typically default to?Keeping an anger journal can be useful in helping you to identify what your anger style is and the thoughts that are behind it. Log the situation, your thoughts about it and how you feel on a scale of 0-100.
Habits can be changed. When your anger is triggered, you are going to react in some way. That is your Anger Style. Your Anger Style is simply your habit. In other words, your Anger Style of either Acting out, Displaced Anger, Ignored Anger, or Avoidance has been your habitual practice in reacting to your Anger Trigger or Triggers. Since you can’t change other people, the only thing you CAN change is your reaction to what makes you angry.
If you have a problem with anger, it is important to understand your pattern, and to understand the styles of others with whom you relate regularly. This will enable you to handle the conflicts that inevitably arise without slipping out of control.
At the end of this session:
1.Identify your own anger styles
2.Understand why they have such an anger style
3.Be aware of their anger style's effect to the self and to other
Where did you learn this anger style (father, mother, peers)?
What are the pay-offs oft this style?
What are the negative consequences?·
How does this style affect you physically?
How do you imagine others are affected by your style?
Acting Out - Explosive
A second style of expressing anger is explosive anger. This anger is quick, exaggerated and sometimes dangerous. Sudden anger is one form of explosive anger and is characterized by loss of control and quick rage. Like a surprise thunder storm that swoops in unexpectedly and leaves a mess that takes days to clean up. People who practice sudden anger gain a surge of power and a release of stored up feelings. This kind of anger can leave damage that is regretted later, once it is too late to take back.
- Acting Out is the type of anger style where someone has some kind of extreme lashing out at another person or as a result of some particular incident or event. Without taking time to think, the person immediately reacts to their anger trigger(s) in some kind of extreme fashion. This person can be said to be ‘out of control’. The consequence of Acting Out is that nothing is solved and the person is still angry. The person who lost control being the one who definitely LOSES.
What it looks like:
"If you leave your jacket on the floor one more time, I'm leaving you!" It may take a lot to push you over the edge, but when you get there, the earth shakes and people run for cover.
Why you might do it :
If you were never taught how to deal with irritation, you may habitually swallow it until you can swallow no more. Eventually your top will blow. Some people are anger junkies, who get off on the adrenaline rush of an emotional explosion, not to mention the fact that the onslaught can mean they get their way - at least in the short term.
The damage :
It is virtually impossible to feel empathy and anger simultaneously, so in the heat of the moment, you are more likely to say and do overly harsh things that you later regret.
Displacers are similar to Stuffers in that they don’t show their anger towards the person or the situation that actually caused them upset. Instead, they find a reason to become mad at someone or something else (usually someone to whom they don’t feel as threatened by). For example, a Displacer may become riled by his or her boss, but instead of expressing it towards the boss s/he may go home and yell at the kids for some trivial reason. Although it may be clear to those around them that they are playing a “mad at the wife, kick the dog” game, Displacers rarely make the connection between the two incidences themselves.
If someone’s anger style is Displaced Anger, this is a classic example of the VICTIM-VICTIMIZER Cycle. This is where you are mad at one person, but you take your anger out on a possibly weaker or easier target who just happens to pass by.The consequence of Displaced Anger is that an innocent person gets hurt. Additionally, the problem with the original person is still not solved either.
As the name implies, stuffers stuff their anger and quietly simmer. They may re enact whatever it was that upset them over and over in their minds looking for what they would do differently if given the chance or how they may get their revenge on the person who upset them. Its very rare for a stuffer to overtly display his/her anger, although its not unusual for them to have the occasional blow up or, more commonly, to express their feelings in a passive aggressive manner.
Anger Style: Self - Abuse
What it looks like:
"It's my fault he doesn't help me. I'm a terrible person." You find a way to make everything your fault, every single time.
Why you might do it:
Somewhere along the line, your self-esteem took a beating and you decided that sometimes it's just safer and easier to be mad at yourself than at someone else.
Constantly turning angry feelings inward can set you up for continued disappointments and even depression.
Ignored Anger or Avoidance
"I'm fine. It's fine. Everything's fine." Even when there's a fireball of rage burning in your gut, you paste on a happy face and dodge any display of irritation. This isn't passive aggression; it's buried aggression.
The primary function of anger is to signal that something is amiss and encourage resolution. By ignoring that warning sign, you may end up engaging in self-destructive behaviors (overeating, excessive shopping). You're also basically giving the green light to other people's bad behavior or denying them the opportunity to make amends. How can they apologize if they don't know you've been hurt?
The consequence of Ignored Anger is the problem is definitely still not solved. Additionally, the person or event who provoked that person’s anger is still around, either knowingly or unknowingly still activating that person’s anger.
If someone’s anger style is Ignored Anger, this is demonstrated by a person holding his or her anger inside or pretending that he or she is not mad. This internal anger often builds up and up until the person suddenly explodes in the form of physical or loud verbal attacks, or they implode in the form of severe depression or anxiety. The consequence of Ignored Anger is the problem is definitely still not solved. Additionally, the person or event who provoked that person’s anger is still around, either knowingly or unknowingly still activating that person’s anger. The consequences of Avoidance is that the problem is definitely still not solved and the person or event who provoked that person’s anger is probably either knowingly or unknowingly still activating that person’s anger.
Those with a chronic anger style stew in their anger for long periods of time and find it very difficult to break
free from it. One form of this is habitual anger, where people have learned and formed a strong habit of anger. These people often become angry at small things that do not really bother them. They start their day grumpy, spend it looking for a fight, and end it even more grumpy. They struggle with ending their anger even
though they are unhappy with it. The anger provides them with predictability and stability.
Chronic anger may have roots in early childhood experiences. Thus, the individual who manifests chronic anger is sometimes seen in psychoanalysis as a case of arrested emotional development. This is evidenced in familiar commonsense statements such as “He’s just a big baby” or “I wish she’d grow up” or “She’s just a brat”.
Individuals with chronic anger may not have had their emotional needs met in infancy and toddlerhood. This led them to suffer from an underlying condition called basic anxiety, the unverbalized impression that the world is unsafe and threatening. One way an adult can defend against basic anxiety is by repressing it and converting it to anger. Threats are anticipated and dealt with while they are still far away on the psychological horizon. chronic anger could be seen as defense against emotional insecurity.
It is possible that the angry adult was a verbal or physical bully as a child or adolescent. Such behaviour often intimidates others and may bring short-term psychological payoffs. If so, the behaviour is reinforced and tends to become a trait of personality.
People who have adopted these patterns tend to stew in their anger for long periods of time. They don't let go of their anger as easily as those in some of the other anger patterns.
Moral anger, another form of chronic anger, locks people into endless crusades of justice. Those who practice this anger are confident in their righteousness and
become angry when others disagree with them and in which their anger is activated when an individual feels their values or beliefs are threatened.
They believe that their anger is for a greater cause and thus free themselves from the guilt of passing judgement on others. Their anger gives them a sense of superiority.
Moral anger can indeed bring about positive results and trigger positive social change. However, moral anger can become a habit and can be exceedingly dangerous. Consider the outraged husband who shoots his unfaithful wife, or on a larger scale, the Crusades.
Three keys provide the means to interrupt this pattern: practicing humility, learning and practicing empathy, and learning to be flexible. Humility means viewing yourself as equal to, but no better than others, and respecting the inner dignity of all. Empathy is the act of entering into the worlds of others, and seeing things through their eyes and world experience. Achieving flexibility is to let go of all those "shoulds" you carry around, and turn them into "coulds"- or yourself, and for others.
Power over others by playing the victim.
Poor me (Playing the victim): The victim aims to control others through the use of manipulating tactics that make others feel guilty that they are not doing enough. They may portray themselves as victims of the other person's behavior or the circumstances which they are in and try to use this to gain sympathy or compassion.
They may believe that they are entitled to good treatment and become angry if they perceive that they are not getting it. When in actual fact good treatment is really gift from other people which they are entitled to withhold as long as they are not being abusive.The person playing the victim role may often say sentences like:
You always treat me badly. Why don't you appreciate me for all the things I do? I can never please you. I can't win nothing I do is good enough for you. I give up, my opinions are not important to you. What's the point of talking, you never understand me.
Some possible problems with playing the victim:
People tend to get irritated and frustrated on the long run and ignore the victim player which makes the victim feel more powerless, angry or even depressed.
If the victim player is successful at regularly gaining control over other people, they tend to become dependent on others and loose a number of useful life skills. The are less able they become the more dependent they find themselves then the more they resort to using their poor me roles.
Hate (Hardened Anger)
The last form of chronic anger is hate. Hate traps its members in an anger that will not easily release them. Hate is hardened anger which occurs when
someone decides that another person is totally evil and unworthy of forgiveness. It begins as an unresolved and resentful anger and can continue indefinitely.
People who hate, convince themselves that they are innocent victims, and create a world of enemies to fight with vigor and enthusiasm. Hate keeps you from letting
go and getting on with life.
Some people have let themselves become consumed by their hatred and are deeply stuck. To overcome the stranglehold of this powerful emotion, major life changes are required. You must recognize and accept hate, but realize it is only a part of you and your life--it must be placed in perspective. From there you can begin to let it go and learn to forgive, which means to drop the resentments and release all claims on the target of your rage.
If it is yourself you have come to despise, you must deal with the issue of shame, and then begin to learn to forgive yourself. Try starting with some simple affirmations, such as "I am good enough just as I am." "I will take all parts of myself into my heart." "I will notice and accept my goodness as part of myself." "I will forgive myself for all I am and all I have done."
Verbal Anger results very easy into verbal abuse!
Verbal Abuse - The invisible scars can give rise to ill health.
Verbal abuse is always humiliating as it is non-respectful towards the other person. The power of words can cause serious and often permanent damage. The abuser uses language, tone and mind games to manipulate, belittle and control the victim.
Many victims of verbal abuse don't even realize they are in an abusive relationship - It's easy to miss because it leaves no physical scars. But the emotional scars are there, whether they can be seen or not.
Verbal abusers are seeking to control you, not just your actions but your emotions as well.
They also seem energized by fighting, while fighting for you is exhausting. They can have unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason.They present a wonderful face to others and the world and is often liked by outsiders.
Here are some of the signs and characteristics of verbal abuse:
- Constant criticism - undermining, "keeping you small"
- Compliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticize you enough to keep you insecure?
- Humiliations in private or in public
- Character assassinations
- Unpredictable responses.
- Name - calling
- Deliberately starting arguments, bursting out with bad moods.
- Belittling your concerns or needs
- Emotional blackmailing.
- Rolling his or her eyes or smiles inappropriately when talking to you.
- Ignores your feelings.
- Downplaying of your emotions and experiences.
- Your words get twisted, turning somehow what you said against you.
- Ignores your feelings.
- Try to convince you he / she is right and you are "wrong".
- Threats to leave you or to throw you out.
- Threats to destroy your belongings.
- Say things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad?
- Limiting access to finances
- Being told that you are to sensitive.
- Withholding of affections, approval and appreciation.
- Silent treatments - stone walling
- Outburst of rage for no reason
- Stirs things up just when you get close to each other.
- He / she make you socialize and keep up appearances even when you don't feel well?
- Jealousy over friends and family, your success and work, your popularity...
- Ridicule your beliefs, race, religion, heritage
- Making impossible demands
- Making fun of you in front of others
- Sexual harassment: Treats you like a sex object, or as though sex should be provided on demand regardless of how you feel.
SARCASM can be one way of verbal abuse.
Sometimes it's innocently insensitive, with no intention to hurt or offend. More often it is hostile and meant to devalue. Verbal / emotional abusers will tell you that you are to sensitive or to thin skinned, that he / she was just joking or kidding, that they did not mean to hurt you (but they did).They try to trivialize as an attempt to make something that they have said or done insignificant.
Sarcasm hurts and can be offending. Though it’s often covert as humor, sarcasm is really just a convenient way for people to express hurt feelings, criticize others, or disapprove of some action without actually coming out and saying what’s on their minds.
When someone responds to someone else with sarcasm, he is not telling the other person what he actually thinks, but rather just making a joke.
Even though couched in wit, your cutting comments can damage your relationships. Although some people insist that mockery is a form of intellectual humor, the very word sarcasm is related to the Greek word sarkazein, meaning "to tear flesh like dogs." Ouch.
The effects of physical abuse are easier to detect and more obvious, while the effects of verbal / emotional abuse is much harder to spot. If someone hits you it is easier to see that it is his / her problem. But if the abuse is subtle through verbal abuse the victim is more likely to think that it is his / her problem. Sadly, many receivers of prolong verbal / emotional abuse start to believe all the negative and terrible things the abuser is telling them.
If you are affected by emotional / verbal abuse, whether occasionally or regularly, act now - do not wait any longer! Have the courage to set yourself free. Don't allow others to use you as a punch bag for there own insecurities.
Effects of verbal (emotional) abuse.
- High psychological stress
- Diminished spirit
- Low self - esteem and self worth
- Self -doubt and confusion
- Feeling of being constantly on the edge
- Loss of dignity and autonomy.
- Sleep disturbance
- Self - destructive tendencies - thoughts of suicide.
- Feelings of powerless
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Anger - Aggressions
- Anxiety (attacks)
- Becoming overly passive
- Relationship problems - divorce
- Frequently crying
- You find yourself walking on eggshells, careful of when and how to say something.
- You hope things will change, especially through your love and understanding.
- You express your opinions less and less freely.
- You feel emotional unsafe.
- You are (or have been) afraid of your partner, colleague, etc.
- Feeling trapped.
- Feeling of being manipulated and controlled
Unpredictable Anger can make you feel like a powder keg, vulnerable to even the smallest spark. When you lose control, the flames can be explosive, singeing your relationships, charring your work and burning your health.
Do you alternate from hot to cold, or have days when you are down in the dumps and others when you feel like you’re on top of the world? Sometimes, anger erupts without following any pattern, fluctuating between mild annoyances to outright rage, depending on your mood. Living with somebody who is a thunderstorm-waiting-to-happen can be stressful, even traumatic, so it’s important that you seek counseling. By visiting a family or marital counselor and learning how to control your anger, you may save your relationships and your peace of mind while also preventing migraine attacks.
Is Ignored Anger your default Anger Style? If someone’s anger style is Ignored Anger, this is demonstrated by a person holding his or her anger inside or pretending that he or she is not mad. This internal anger often builds up and up until the person suddenly explodes in the form of physical or loud verbal attacks, or they implode in the form of severe depression or anxiety.
Let’s say you are really angry. Someone has made a cutting remark. Perhaps they made a ‘fat joke’ or a ‘blond joke’ or a ‘racial slur’ or some other hurtful remark that implies that you are less than and not good enough.
If you typically do one of these things, Ignored Anger may be your habitual anger style:
1. You hope that if you ignore them and show no reaction, the person will get bored and go away.
2. In front of this person and others, you laugh with pretended enjoyment of their joke or remark, pretending that you endorse what he or she said. When safely at home, you cry or get depressed.
3. You may roll your eyes, but you don’t say anything. Every few days, this person makes the same cutting remark in an effort to push your buttons. After several such interactions, you feel there is no give left in that button. So you either explode in fury, or you become deeply depressed.
Passive Aggressive Anger
Some people are determined not to succumb to the temptation to be rageful with anger, but that doesn't mean they are without anger. Rightly recognizing that open aggression creates an atmosphere of great disrespect, they refuse to explode loudly or get caught in games of verbal abuse. These people, however, can develop too strong of a determination to avoid ugly anger and in doing so, they become susceptible to passive aggression. True to the definition of aggressive anger, passive aggression involves preserving personal worth, needs, and convictions at someone else's expense, but it differs in that it is accomplished in a more quiet manner, causing less personal vulnerability.
To get an idea of the nature of passive aggressive anger, look over the following statements. Do any of them seem familiar?
Passive Aggressive Anger is expressed indirectly. Often this takes the form of “game playing” - such as
forgetting, procrastination, playing dumb or helpless, ignoring requests or directives, and generally frustrating others by not committing or subverting the action requested. The long term negative effect is loss of respect from others and relinquishing the courage to make decisions and defend them openly. This erodes communication and often leaves the user of this style rejected and looked down upon by others.
Passive aggression is usually caused by a need to have control with the least amount of accountability. This form of anger is different from suppressed anger because the person is deliberately doing something knowing it will agitate the other person involved. Also, when people use this form of anger, it represents a fear based manner of handling conflicts. Healthy relationships welcome openness, but passive-aggressive fear that openness will be accompanied by too high of an emotional price.
What it looks like:
"Oops. Did I delete all those old football games from the TV recorder?" You don't hide or swallow your anger, but you express it in an underhanded way.
Why you might do it :
You dislike confrontation, but you're no pushover, either. "People become 'anger sneaks' when they believe they can't stand up to others." Some people who are cautious by nature turn to this style when they feel pushed outside their comfort zones.
You frustrate people. "You're living your life around making sure other people don't get what they want, instead of striving for what would make you happy." The bottom line: No one wins.
One style of expressing anger can be referred to as masked anger. Anger is masked when people do not recognize their anger or the severity of it. One way of doing this is to practice anger avoidance. Anger avoiders wear a mask to hide their anger from others and from themselves. Sometimes anger avoiders are afraid of losing control of their anger, like a monster released from its cage. Sometimes they fear not being liked. They have learned that being nice, calm and safe cannot go with anger. They are often not open to the warnings of a dangerous situation and as a result can get treated as a door mat.
Masked Anger’s common feature is a tendency toward disconnecting the feelings of anger from the object of
anger. In anger avoidance the person minimizes their own value and in passive aggressive and paranoid anger the angry person minimizes the value of person who is the focus of their anger. All three styles seek to avoid a direct resolution and therefore the anger becomes a more permanent feature of their personality.
Anger is masked when people don't recognize they are angry or when they underestimate their anger significantly.
Those who avoid their anger at all costs are afraid of their anger and intensely dislike the uncomfortable feelings and sensations that accompany anger. Anger is considered to be an enemy. However, individuals who avoid this emotion to this degree pay a huge price for doing so.
The suppressor style sits on or suppresses anger. People with this style of anger management have learned that anger is all bad, therefore it must be eliminated. But anger is a God-given, natural emotion that cannot be eliminated. Consequently, people bottle up their anger until it reaches the boiling point and they explode over the smallest, insignificant situation.
People with this style tend to deny feeling or expressions of anger in their life. They are worried about what others might think or say if they were to express their anger. Their trigger thoughts include needing others to always approve of them or see them in positive light. They might also have grown up in a family with a venting parent. As a result, they might have learned to suppress their anger for fear of retaliation or made a personal vow never to be like their parent.
The first step in altering this mode of handling anger is to craft a new vision of the future and imagine yourself being angry when appropriate and using your anger well. Picture how you would look when angry and allow yourself to begin to feel some of the physical hints of the beginning of an angry state (i.e. tapping your foot, stomach twinges, etc.) Imagine the feeling of satisfaction when you have used your anger well and learned to speak up for yourself.
The second step is to make a commitment to the change--no more doormat! You can be whole and real by allowing anger space in your life.
Sneaky anger is another form of masked anger. The anger sneak also wears a mask, one of confusion, procrastination and laziness. Anger sneaks hide their anger by not doing what they are asked and keeping their resentment to themselves. They gain a sense of control over their life by frustrating others. However, anger sneaks lose track of their own wants and needs and spend their time being resentful of what others ask of them. This often leads to boredom, frustration and unsatisfying relationships.
Those who are sneaky about their anger don't express it outwardly, but rather by "getting back" at the target by what they "forget" to do or just don't do. This pattern is more formally known as "passive-aggressive" behavior. It's very clever, because the individual can be angry without ever having to admit it!
The foundation of beginning to change this style is to admit you have angry feelings like all other human beings. Learn you can overtly stand up for yourself and express yourself by saying things like, "No - I'd really rather not do that." The hardest step is to break the cycle of the fun of driving others nuts by using this style--because it works! But every time you win with this style, you really lose--all you're doing is demonstrating your negativity and failing to make your true wants and needs known. Give it up!
Paranoid anger is a third form of masking anger. These people hide from their anger by giving it to others. They assume that others are angry with them when they themselves are angry. They often fear that others are looking to attack them and end up spending a lot of time jealously guarding and defending what they believe is theirs. Paranoid anger provides a guilt free way of feeling anger - it is disguised as self-protection. Unfortunately, paranoid anger has many costs. People with paranoid anger are insecure, alone because they trust no one, and confused between their own feelings and those of others.
This style also results from failing to recognize anger. Individuals in this mode are so fearful of anger in themselves and how they might react, they wind up projecting the angry feelings onto others and are convinced they must then defend themselves!
As with other styles, the first step is to begin to own anger in yourself. Make a commitment that any time you are convinced another person is angry with you, assume it is you who are really angry. You might even want to keep a journal and jot down each time you feel someone is angry at you, why you believe this to be true, and end with why you may be angry at that person instead.
Paranoid Anger views the world as unsafe and hostile. It is based in a lack trust of others and suspicions of the motives and actions of others. Often the internal state of anger is projected onto others. This projection is
then used as justification for feeling angry toward the original object of their emotion. Unable to accept their own feelings, a mental rationalization is created
to give them safe passage to their own anger.
Often there is a failure to give others the benefit of the doubt. There is an over emphasis placed in the feeling that others are thinking of ways to harm them.
Two related aspects of this form of anger can be envy and jealousy.
People are oftentimes surprised that volcanoes have anger management problems because in the main they are fairly easygoing people.
That is until something happens and then a volcano can go from zero to sixty in the blink of an eye. Many people have compared volcanoes to Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde.
They are known for having a very low frustration tolerance and will take out their aggravation on whatever is perceived to be causing a hitch in their lives: be it co-workers, loved ones, traffic, an elevator that is slow in arriving, you name it.
Once a volcano calms down he or she may feel embarrassed or ashamed by their outburst and apologize for their actions.
While apologies are accepted the first time or two a volcano goes off they tend to wear a bit thin after it happens several times and people become alienated from the volcano.
This anger personality type oftentimes wishes they could get a better handle on their anger problem, but feel powerless to do so.
This is the type of anger that arises in an instant, and disappears just as quickly.
While "exploders" let the world know their feelings, which is not always a bad thing, they also pay huge consequences such as wrecked relationships and lost jobs. These folks benefit greatly from learning to recognize the physical signs of beginning anger, slowing things down by relaxation exercises, taking time-outs, etc.
Shame based anger, based on a poor self image, is also an explosive form of anger.
Shame prone people often feel suddenly attacked and lash out defensively in return. When someone ignores them or criticizes them, they take it as proof that the person disapproves of them as much as they disapprove of themselves.
They avoid their own feelings of shame and inadequacy by shaming, criticizing and blaming others. The trouble is that theyoften end up attacking the people they love which causes them to feel worse about themselves.
The crucial step in beginning to break this pattern is to break the shame/rage link.
The link is easy, you feel shame - you get mad. Think about what people say or do that triggers your shame. When does this happen, with whom and how often? How do your convert your shame into anger? Then each time you get angry, ask yourself, "What am I ashamed about right now?" As this awareness begins to take shape, commit to breaking this link. Take a time out if you need to and don't give in to your anger. That's not the issue here!
Deliberate anger, another explosive anger form, occurs when someone becomes intentionally angry to show that they will “go crazy” in their anger if they do not get what they want.
This kind of anger is planned and purposeful. It lacks emotion, at least at first. They have learned that
they can control others with threats and sometimes violence.
These people use anger deliberately to achieve various goals, such as power and control, showing off, keeping others away, or avoiding real feelings. And it's all show! Again, the gain is there, but the costs are high.
The key to stopping this cycle is once again--personal awareness. Determine when you use anger falsely and deliberately and with whom, jot down the short- and long-term results and what the reactions were, and what you hoped to gain.
Take the radical step of admitting to those close to you what you have been doing and that you are committed to changing this destructive pattern. And make a promise to start telling the truth - no more false displays of anger.
"Rageaholics" have become psychologically addicted to their anger. Anger creates a rush of adrenaline and other physiological responses which can be addicting, and may create a sense of being "truly alive." And like other addictions, there is a tolerance build - up that ultimately requires bigger and bigger fights to satisfy the need.
For the anger addict, the rush provides them with intensity, excitement and a sense of power. Anger addicts do not learn other ways to feel good and become dependant on their anger.
A three - fold pathway leads to freedom from this pattern: calmness, moderation, and choices. Learning to remain calm takes much practice, and the commitment to staying with it a day at a time in the beginning. If you are unable to make it for a day, determine why, learn from it, and re-commit. Learn relaxation skills and apply them.
Moderation is learning to avoid the extremes and extinguish the "all or none" thinking so characteristic of anger patterns. Learn to see the gray areas in situations and express anger just a little bit. Finally, learn to choose NOT to accept the many invitations we all get to become angry many times a day. You don't have to become angry just because you could!
Unlike the anger addict, people who have developed a habitual style of anger don't enjoy their anger or desire that anger adrenaline rush. Nonetheless, they have become chronically angry, often coming from angry families, and learning early on that anger often works to get what they want. Because anger has become ingrained as a habit and is almost unconscious, the critical task is to break through and shine full light on it!
Start by examining your angry actions and negative thinking. Then visualize a new you that sees the world through eyes of serenity and goodness. Begin to consciously develop a habit of optimism. Remember these will be daily disciplines and will require practice, practice, practice!
Blamers express their anger at others by shoving their consequences onto others. Blamers may name-call, shout, or put down others. Blamers are good at dumping their anger on those around them.
They blame their parents, their teachers, their bosses, their co-workers, or their work situations. Blamers learn their lessons well from their parents and role-models.
They consequently have low self-esteem, because they believe the negative affirmations that are told to them. Blamers are also seldom able to take responsibility for their own behavior.
Most likely after many of your encounters with this person, you end up feeling guilty, upset, emotionally drained and confused. You may even feel like you're completely useless or incompetent.
The most difficult times to deal with this type of negative person is when they're in the role of your boss, your parent, or your significant other.
This type of person isn't always easy to identify at first. he blamer can be very charming and likeable yet also have this darker side. When you're dealing with the darker side, it will feel like the rug is always being pulled out from under you and nothing you do is ever right, or you get blamed for his mistakes or his deceptions.
Trying to be rational with him doesn't work. Trying to get him to see how hurt you feel by what he's doing doesn't work. In fact, these two tactics will make it much, much worse.If you've been a victim of this type of negative person, you may feel like there is something wrong with you and that if only you were better, or smarter, or nicer, or more competent at your job, or just did the right things for once then the situation would be better between you and the negative person. You end up feeling like it's all your fault which can end up causing depression, self loathing, or other self destructive tendencies.
Defending yourself from this type of person will only make the situation much worse and you'll end up being attacked even more. If you point out how you're innocent and didn't do anything wrong or that he's really to blame then an explosion of anger will most likely occur.
With some blamers, they are deceptive and manipulative all the time.
Their philosophy tends to be “attack others before they attack me” which means that if they’ve made a mistake they tend to blame others or start to attack others before they can be caught.
Often, they see nothing wrong with lying and will lie even if there's no need to. Another interesting characteristic they tend to have is that they tend to project any of their own wrong doings on to someone else.
Trianglers express their anger in devious and manipulative ways. Instead of confronting people they are angry with directly, they pull others into their conflicts. They may attempt to get others to be angry about a perceived injustice done to them. There is a lot of below the surface tension in families where there are trianglers. Everybody in the family systems that harbor trianglers feel that something is wrong, but they don’t know what it is.
Trianglers rally the troops. Instead of expressing anger directly, they pull someone else in and try to get that person angry, too.
Withdrawers express their anger through “passive- aggressive” means.
That is, withdrawers are champs at expressing their anger indirectly.
An angry husband may go days without talking to their wives. An angry wife may burn the nightly dinner, or neglect laundry chores, or leave the house cluttered to indirectly express their displeasure with their husbands. Needless to say, their bedrooms are cold and places of unrest.
Withdrawers suffer continuously from their passive-aggressive behavioral consequences. Withdrawers miss out on the power of allowing their anger to work for them. The underlying problem never gets solved.
The Prickly Pear
Prickly pears are also known as crabs or people who are overly sensitive.
It often seems as if they get more pleasure out of complaining about something than actually doing something about it. Everything is fair game for causing them misery – their romantic partner, work, how they got taken advantage of, how easy others have it in comparison – you name it and they will find something to complain about.
Prickly Pears are least understood of the anger personalities because their never ending crabbiness is often a mask for depression and/or anxiety. They feel so uncomfortable in their own skin that the slightest provocation can make them feel overwhelmed or powerless and complaining is their way of coping. Unfortunately their incessant complaining makes it difficult for those around them to have a whole lot of empathy. This leaves them feeling all the more misunderstood and unloved and just furthers the cycle of depression or anxiety.
The interrogator aims to control others by throwing questions upon questions at the target until they can find fault with the target and use the information gained to make the target feel embarrassed, ashamed and guilty about their behaviour.
The interrogator's hope is to make others see things in their way and hopefully get them to stop behaviours that the interrogator does not like (e.g. what are you eating? How many spoons of sugar did you put in it? How many did you have etc?)
Some possible problems with using the interrogating anger style:
After a while the target may wise up to the interrogator's tactics and tell lies in order to avoid the impending guilt trip. This leaves the interrogator deflated or even angrier causing the interrogator more emotional anguish.
There is a tendency for people to feel manipulated and insulted if they are been interrogated (they feel they are being treated like a child). The result is that they become angry at the interrogator and rebel. In extreme cases they may even take on an intimidating position against the interrogator. All this makes the interrogator feel even more powerless and insecure.
Intimidators use physical or emotional abuse in order to get their way. Anger is seen as an effective way of getting what they want. They usually take little responsibility for the damage they cause, rationalizing that whatever was done was because the other person or situation “made” them do it. Intimidators often come from abusive or conflict ridden families in which hostility and intimidation was the main way of resolving disagreements. They will often only seek help when they are court ordered into anger management.