We all get angry from time to time. Anger is a normal, healthy emotion that allows us to face threats and defend ourselves. Without anger, we probably wouldn’t be able to survive. But can someone be too angry?
Some people are indeed more prone to getting angry than others. They get angry more easily and more intensely. Being angry, however, doesn’t always involve screaming loudly or visibly acting out. People also express anger more silently, leading to chronic irritability, social withdrawal, and sometimes, physical illness.
Psychologists explain that those who are more easily angered have a low tolerance for frustration. This could partly be due to an irritable temperament – and they are easily bothered even as babies. Environmental factors also play a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are more disruptive and aren’t as skilled at emotional communication.
Regardless of the cause, too much anger can lead to many negative consequences. For example, it can lead to inappropriate actions at the workplace that can get you fired. Excessive anger can hurt your personal relationships. It can lead to domestic violence, where an overly angry person can hurt or even kill their partner.
Some believe that “letting it all out” is the best way to deal with anger. Unfortunately, many use this idea to justify their aggression. While it is healthier to express your anger rather than to keep it bottled inside, an aggressive tendency actually encourages more anger and further aggression. Expressing your feelings in an assertive manner that still shows respect for others is the healthiest way to deal with anger.
We can’t do anything about many of the things that trigger our anger. There will always be something, someone, who just gets to us. We can, however, control the way we react to things. Here are some tips from the American Psychological Association on managing anger:
Relaxation techniques – deep breathing, meditation, yoga, relaxing imagery
Cognitive restructuring – change the way you think about a situation (For example, the next time someone cuts you in line, tell yourself that it’s ok to be frustrated, but that it’s not the end of the world.)
Better communication – try to listen to what the other person is saying before jumping to conclusions, think before saying impulsive things, speak in a respectful manner
Humor – use “silly humor,” not harsh, sarcastic humor, to help see your feelings from a different perspective (For example, if think of your coworker as a “scumbag,” imagine a bag of “scum” working at a desk.)
If you feel that your anger is out of control, consider anger management counseling. There are many effective techniques that you can use on a daily basis to make your life, as well as the lives of those around you, much more calm and pleasant.
By Juhee Lee
Anger Management Institute of Texas is a certified Anderson & Anderson provider.
Anger Management Classes available 7 days a week in Houston, Texas.
Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers