All actions are motivated
by two basic choices: approach or avoidance, and by two basic emotions, happy or angry. Anger is an automatic response to ill treatment. It
is a feedback mechanism in which an unpleasant stimulus is met with an
unpleasant response. It is the way a person indicates he or she
will not tolerate certain types of behaviour.
Our brain is equipped with scanning devices that are always
looking for anything that is threatening. Even in our sleep when the internal
alarm goes off we can be aroused very quickly and be ready for flight
is an emotion related to one's psychological interpretation of having
been offended, wronged or denied. Typical responses are withdrawal or
antagonism. Angry animals may make loud sounds, attempt to look
physically larger, stare, bare their teeth, and become aggressive or
flee. A whole complex of glandular and physical arousal
If you have been driving a car and had or nearly had an accident
you know what this rush of stimulation feels like. Anger has physical correlates such as
increased heart rate, blood pressure, and levels of adrenaline and
Our internal alarm system triggers the
release of adrenaline
to heighten our awareness and responsiveness. This gives our blood stream
and muscles a quick supply of glucose so we can run fast and make quick
decisions. Also we may have a burst of histamines
to ward off infections.
Skydiving, bungie jumping or riding a roller
coaster are examples of the kind of adrenaline
"thrill." This rush of stimulation to the body's chemistry is also
intimately involved in addictive behavior. It's a bit like a dog in the
yard who barks at passers by. If no one is there to shush the dog or the
dog isn't properly trained what is appropriate behavior, he may become
a chronic nuisance. This bad habit may have started because the dog may
just be bored or not have any better to do. Like the dog that barks
too much we need to re-evaluate what is appropriate.
When our aggression becomes so extreme
that we lose self-control, it is said that we are in a rage.
Aggression must be distinguished from assertiveness which is tactfully
and rationally standing up for your own rights; indeed, assertiveness is
designed not to hurt others. Anger can also be distinguished from hostility
which is a chronic state of anger. Anger is a temporary response, which
we all have, to a particular frustrating situation; hostility is a permanent
personality characteristic which certain people have.
When anger is excessive and destructive;
it has bad effects health and well being in general. It is apparent
that irrational beliefs drive a person's anger to violence; magnifying
the immediate circumstances, demonizing an opponent, and setting unrealistic
and unattainable standards for oneself and others. We know know that depression
is a form of anger turned against the self.
Anger and aggression come in many forms,
some quite subtle, and anger is frequently concealed or a disguised emotion.
One common way of expressing suppressed anger has been given a special
name: passive-aggressiveness. There is another related form of concealed
anger: feeling like a victim. Both the passive-aggressive
and the victim are likely to deny or be unaware of their anger.
Anger just naturally results from frustration.
Aggression also has a chemical, hormonal basis too. Anger hormones have
a similarity to methamphetamine, and are addictive and intoxicating. Distancing
ourselves from anger intoxication affords time out to "sober up" and recognize
the differences between constructive differences of opinion and destructive
disagreements, conflicts and incitement to violence. By using techniques
relation, and even meditation,
we can overcome habitual anger.
As with alcoholism, apparently there may
also a genetic or inherited element to aggressive behavior and chronic
anger. An example is that certain breeds of dogs, like Pit Bulls, are more
vicious than others. Also, more aggressive breeds can be developed, e.g.
rats or fighting chickens and bulls. A large survey of adopted children
has found that living with an adoptive parent who committed crimes is less
risky than merely having the genes from a person who committed crimes.
Other factors now known to be contributing
to irritability and aggression are hotter temperatures, hypoglycemia
(low blood sugar), high testosterone levels (male sex hormone), and brain
damage or dysfunction. There is also clear evidence that drug abuse and
alcohol consumption and release aggression.
Chronically angry people may have a dual
or good guy/bad guy personality which is the core of co-dependency. And
co-dependency can be express between two people or between many, as when
as political figure embodies innate aggressions. Great atrocities are attributed
to crazed men--Hitler, Stalin, terrorists, etc. But, ordinary people can
rather easily become evil enough to discriminate against, hurt, and brutalize
It isn't just the prejudiced and deranged
that brutalize. There is scary evidence that almost all of us might, under
the right conditions, develop a tolerance or a rationalization for injustice.
Even the most moral among us may just look the other way. We strongly resist
thinking of ourselves as potentially mean, but we have no trouble believing
that others are immoral. Like any other addictive behavior, denial is integral
to the problem of anger.
The crime rate soars and prisons
overflow. Infidelity and spouse abuse, prejudice, rape and murder are rampant.
Even within the family-- supposedly our refuge, our safe place, our source
of love--there is much violence. Such self-serving and aggressive urges
probably helped humans survive one million years ago but threatens
our survival today. The socialization process, i.e. becoming a mature person,
involves taming these destructive, savage tendencies.
Technology has delivered the means
to destroy all life as we know it, but will it also enable a kinder, gentler
population? We are a species at risk of becoming adrenaline addicted. Violence
is a central issue of our time and we had better give it due consideration,
and remember that peace begins within.
Anger is innate, but we can and must learn
to suppress aggression. Weapons, terrorism, and media violence have proliferated
along with increased population density. But has there been an increase
in anything that would balance the scales? Are we becoming more tolerant,
forgiving, and compassionate? How can this be accomplished? The sooner
we deal with these issues, the better the quality of our lives will become.
and the sooner we can begin finding our bliss.
seems to be the switch that turns off anger. When enough seratonin is secreted
we feel happy. We know that anger
management techniques actually work. We also know that inner peace
is primarily a matter of attention and desire. But will we focus our attention
and purpose to these ends? Each of can begin making some headway by learning
to recognize anger and unkindness within our own minds and hearts and adjust
our behavior accordingly.
Clearly we reward competitive behavior.
Men are particularly expected to be goal oriented, to win, to capture the
trophy, to "bring home the bacon." In insidious ways we are taught that
only the ones at the top of the heap earn the right to feel good. Fishing
and hunting and sports are expected to make us feel good. But most competitions
have only one (or at best a few) winners. All the other participants usually
are not considered to be winners and are offered no appropriate
mode of feeling and behavior that is redeeming or constructive.
We have learned that the brain chemistry
in most residents of mental and penal institutions have detectable differences
from the general population. Although we don't yet undertand this, we continue
to be quick to punish and criminalize anti-social behavior, but offer little
in the way of alternatives or rehabilitation. Ignoring these issues won't
make them go away, but will make it worse. In fact, if the present rates
don't change it will only be a few decades (statistically) until the entire
population is institutionalized.
The damage that has been done to women
by being devalued for so long is mirrored by the implied disrespect for
men who exhibit humility and kindness. Qualities like constancy, compassion,
and selflessness are not properly acknowledged and extolled, especially
in the media. In fact the media, which is driven by commercialism and box
office ratings, literally preys on innocence, since it is danger and violence
that command our attention the most.
Anger is very common, and does more harm
than any other behavior. When
you feel angry, blow your cool, and turn into that negative "other"
person. Then events, situations and people respond to you in a similar
a better way. There's no need to tear ourselves up inside or take it
on others. By learning means of preventing or coping with anger in
and in others we can understand how to recognize the arousal curve and
accept the necessity of anger management techniques.
can be like a pressure cooker; we can only apply pressure against our
anger for a certain amount of time until it explodes. But you have an
alternative. By practicing the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process
you can use that anger to serve a specific, life-enriching purpose. It
tells you that you're disconnected from what you value and that your
needs are not being met. Rather than managing your anger by suppressing
your feelings or blasting someone with your judgments, you can use
anger to discover what you need, and then how to meet your needs in
Marshall Rosenberg writes about how to transform your passion by applying some key truths:
- People or events may spark your anger but your own judgments are its cause.
- Judging others as "wrong" prevents you from connecting with your unmet needs.
- Getting clear about your needs helps you identify solutions satisfying to everyone.
- Creating strategies focused on meeting your needs transforms anger into positive actions.