Life wouldn’t be life without those little irritants that push our buttons. When our buttons get pushed, it’s completely natural to feel angry. Anger is a normal emotion that can facilitate better communication and positive change when expressed appropriately. But for some people, personal anger management can be challenging.
Usually, these people are the last to know they even have what others may describe as “toxic” or “out-of-control” anger. Their loved ones may be hiding their own feelings, choosing their words carefully, and walking on eggshells. Therefore, people around them have gotten used to performing some sort of anger management for them, all in an effort to keep the peace.
Common Reasons for Intense Anger
If you are uncertain about whether or not you may have anger issues, read the following common reasons for intense anger and see if any of them ring true for you.
Anger as a Way to Self-Soothe
Self-medication, as a way to deal with life’s pain, is very common. For those with anger issues, there is a biochemical explanation as to why you may be often and easily angered.
The brain secretes certain hormones when we get angry. One of these hormones, norepinephrine, acts as a pain reliever. When we become angry, we dig up deep wounds whether we know it or not. Therefore, norepinephrine jumps into action to help numb the pain we may be feeling.
Becoming angry in the moment releases a powerful brain chemical that numbs our emotional pain. In other words, we react this way so we don’t feel vulnerable, ignored, or rejected.
Another chemical released by the brain during a fit of anger, called epinephrine, acts as an amphetamine. It allows us to feel a sudden surge of energy throughout our bodies. This adrenaline rush counteracts our feeling of powerlessness in the moment
Some of us don’t feel safe in a relationship without a safe bit of distance. This is typically a response to a parent or caretaker being unavailable, unresponsive, or untrustworthy in our past. The adult children of these types of parents feel the need to cultivate a certain emotional detachment in their relationships, and anger is a very effective way of doing that.
Tips for Anger Management
1. Recognize the problem – It’s important to recognize and admit you may have a problem.
2. Monitor your behavior by keeping an anger journal. Log behavior you noticed or you were accused of by others. Note the incident, trigger, and the intensity of your anger from 0-10. Often just seeing your anger on paper will offer some insights into where it’s coming from.
3. Feel your anger but don’t act on it – Bottling up emotions is never the answer. It’s important for us to feel our feelings, ALL of them. But it’s equally important to regulate our actions. Walk away from potential fights and don’t send that angry email.
4. Get some help – Speaking with someone about your anger can often help. By uncovering the emotions underneath the anger, you can diffuse it and begin to heal from past traumas.
If this post resonated with you and you’re wondering if you could benefit from some more discussion about anger management, feel free to reach out to any of our therapists for more information.
About the author(s)
Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.