Do you often feel angry for no reason?
Do you feel irritable, short-tempered and grouchy a lot?
Where does this unexplained anger come from? What does it mean?
Feelings of anger come from how we interpret and/or react to certain situations. Everyone has their own specific triggers but some common ones are:
- situations that make us feel threatened or attacked
- feelings of frustration or powerlessness
- unfair treatment
People can often have different perceptions about a situation. So something that one person experiences can elicit anger, another person may feel annoyed, hurt or amused by the same situation. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong for feeling angered about something. Very often how we react to a situation can depend on things such as these 3 conditions:
- how we were raised, our childhood
- our past experiences
- our current circumstances
What is hard to understand at times is that anger is really a secondary feeling that is often a result of fear or hurt. It is our first line of defense against a threat to self. Our anger goes on the attack to defend our physical or psychological integrity.
Whether your anger is about something that happened in the past or something that’s going on right now, thinking about how and why we interpret and react to situations can help us learn how to cope with our emotions better. It can also help us find productive strategies to handle our anger.
Let’s examine more closely those 3 conditions that influence our anger responses:
1. How we were raised, our childhood
How we learn to cope with angry feelings is often influenced by our upbringing. Many people are given messages about anger as children that may make it harder to manage it as an adult. For example:
You may have grown up thinking that it’s always okay to act out your anger aggressively or violently, and so you didn’t learn how to understand and manage your angry feelings. This could mean you have angry outbursts whenever you don’t like the way someone is behaving, or whenever you are in a situation you don’t like.
You may have been brought up to believe that you shouldn’t complain, and may have been punished for expressing anger as a child. This could mean that you tend to suppress your anger and it becomes a long-term problem, where you react inappropriately to new situations you’re not comfortable with.
You may have witnessed your parents’ or other adults’ anger when it was out of control, and learned to think of anger as something that is destructive and terrifying. This could mean that you now feel afraid of your own anger and don’t feel safe expressing your feelings when something makes you angry. Those feelings might then surface at another unconnected time, which may feel hard to explain.
2. Past experiences
If you’ve experienced particular situations in the past that made you feel angry (either as a child or more recently as an adult) but you weren’t able to safely express your anger at the time, you might still be coping with those angry feelings now. This might also mean that you now find certain situations particularly challenging, and more likely to make you angry.
3. Current circumstances
If you’re dealing with a lot of other problems in your life right now, you might find yourself feeling angry more easily than usual, or getting angry at unrelated things.
If there’s a particular situation that’s making you feel angry, but you don’t feel able to express your anger directly or resolve it, then you might find you express that anger at other times.
Anger can also be a part of grief. If you’ve lost someone important to you, it can be hugely difficult to cope with all the conflicting things you might be feeling.
Anger is one of the most misunderstood of human emotions.
When we are angry and take a moment to understand our self, we’ll often discover that we are experiencing hurt, pain, or fear. Anger can often be confused with hostility and aggression. Anger is an emotional state, consisting of feelings that vary in intensity from mild irritation or annoyance to intense fury and rage.
Therapy can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger. If you don’t know why you are getting angry, it’s very hard to control. Therapy provides a safe environment to learn more about your reasons and identify triggers for your anger. It’s also a safe place to practice new skills in expressing your anger. Call one of our Counselors for your appointment.