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5 Things to Know about Anger.

Updated: May 17, 2020

Anger is probably one of the most misunderstood emotions. Anger can be linked to protection, feeling hurt or reacting to relationship dynamics around control and power.

1 - Are you in a Caregiver role? :

Dr Gabor Mate states people who are compulsive in looking after others, ignore their own needs and by not connecting with healthy anger; this leads to lowering the immune system. Often this need to look after people has been developed from an early age, the child has received core messages (introjects) about being selfish, being a good boy or girl and has learnt that angry children do not receive love. The child holds onto these beliefs and into adulthood learns to sacrifice authenticity in order to maintain attachment to the parent or partner. This desperate need for attachment overrides acknowledging their own needs and their sense of autonomy. In therapy, a common question - what are your needs? Caregivers struggle in answering the question and reply I don’t know or report feeling selfish. Coming to therapy can be a struggle as they think someone else needs the space or is more important. The therapeutic work is to regain a sense of boundaries, identify needs and connect to repressed anger in a safe space leading to a more enriched life that is more than surviving but thriving!

2 – The Body Remembers Anger:

Healthy anger is a boundary defence, necessary. Anger is often telling us that someone has hurt us. Anger is about a boundary being crossed - it is emotional and physical. Anger can range from feeling cold to swallowing down of anger or feeling hot and tense. Holding in anger can lead to tightening of muscles, clenched jaw, shoulder, neck ache, and fiery sensation in joints, knees and increased heart rate. Anger can be symbolically expressed in conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and IBS. There are different types of anger, such as explosive anger or the colder type which is repressed, withdrawn and often comes out as short, sharp, passive aggressive comments.

3 - Anger is taboo, minimised or underestimated:

Notice our language around anger can vary such as " I just feel a bit irritated." Anger is a life moving force as when we are angry we can mobilise and shake up the routine in our lives. Anger and aggression are different. Aggression can be out of control, with a threat of violence whereas anger is a healthy response to a situation. If we feel resentful, this is an indicator it is time to change the situation e.g. get a new job, leave a situation that is no longer nourishing. Resentment signals needs not getting met. Notice how a toddler will use a variety of methods to get their needs met as they do not have the verbal skills yet.

4 - Working with Anger:

  • Notice you’re breathing, often in stressful situations the brain will go into fight of flight mode and breath will shorten. Ground and notice your feet on the floor, feel the support of the chair or wall. Your body is a container.

  • Slow down, are you reading the situation correctly, is there another possibility? Is it accurate?

  • Is your anger coming out in your driving, notice how quick your mood can change to rage? Is this about driving or something else? Stop the car, go for a walk and take in big breaths.

  • Delegate - write a mental note of how many pressures you are under and see if anyone can support you to share the load?

  • Reacting or Responding - leave it a few hours and double check before you send that text or email?

  • Ask yourself what do you need now?

  • Release the tension in your body- Pick up some scatter cushions and throw them against the couch or wall? Practice shadow boxing? Being creative - create a playlist with angry songs so you can dance the energy out? Or take up writing in a journal?

  • Talk to a someone you trust, sharing and connecting can take some of the power out of anger.

5 - Know when to seek Help

If uncontrolled anger leads to domestic violence (violence or threatening behaviour within the home), there are places that offer help and support. Please talk to your GP, or call Women's Aid or Respect.

If would like to know more please book in for a session: umaa.counsellor@gmail.com

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