Ever have one of those days (or weeks) where everything irritates you? The real question is: how badly are you irritated? Are you simply annoyed, or do you get worked up to a disproportionate rage?
Studies indicate that one out of five Americans have anger management issues. True anger is a “primitive” emotion that seems completely volatile and uncontrollable that causes people to get angry in traffic, yell at their partner, or verbally assault (sometimes physically) others because someone or something has bothered them so bad they couldn’t keep their composure anymore.
Anger is contagious
Imagine a husband who comes home from work, angry and shouts at his wife. The wife gets upset because she doesn’t understand her husband’s reaction, and yells at her kid. Out of frustration, the child kicks the dog which then runs outside and bites the mailman.
As you can see, anger can sometimes be extremely contagious. If one of these people had been able to stop and consider his/her actions, the chain of reaction could have been prevented.
Why do we get angry?
In sketchy, scientific terms, when something upsetting happens the first structure that is activated in the brain is the amygdala (the center of emotions), followed by the cerebral cortex (the center of reason). The only way to get a handle on our anger is by somehow bypassing the amygdala’s response and allowing our rational brain to take over.
Breaking it down: Everyone is uniquely wired, causing us to respond in different ways to situations. Some people are easily angered and are quite loud about it, while others may sulk and be chronically grouchy. These folks have low frustration levels and are not able to take things in stride.
Getting a handle
As you’ve probably figured out, retaliation is never a good idea because it will only generate more hostility. The best way to control an angry outburst, is to catch it in the early stages and not allow it to grow out of control.
Whenever you feel anger bubbling near the surface, pause for a few seconds by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Learning how to relax and live in the moment is an acquired skill with numerous benefits.
If you find it difficult to control your anger, consider talking to a qualified mental health professional who can work with you using cognitive behavioral therapy to help develop effective relaxation techniques and productive life skills. It might not seem like a big deal right now, but if you let anger control your life, it will eventually consume you.