“Yes, I was angry. And I was a little afraid. After all I’ve not been free in so long. But, when I felt that anger well up inside of me, I realized that if I hated them after I got outside that gate, then they would still have me. I wanted to be free so I let it go.”
Nelson Mandela upon leaving prison after 27 years of confinement.
When we think of forgiveness, sometimes we can take it to mean that we have accepted or condoned other’s behaviour towards us, and we don’t want to do that. They have acted unfairly, they have hurt us and we won’t let them get away with it! And neither should we let them get away with it, but as the quote from Mandela suggests if we take the anger around with us, they continue to hurt us, they continue to have a hold a on us, and they don’t deserve to have that control over us, they don’t deserve energy or time we use thinking about them. Letting go of the anger, will free you.
We all get angry, frustrated, bitter at times, but do we really take a look at what is beneath our anger? Anger can be self-sustainable, it can keep going for years, but what causes it? Have you ever thought to look at the reason why you get angry? Many of us don’t. We unconsciously know that there is something there that seems to be triggering the anger, but we don’t want to look at it. If you can find it in yourself to have a good look at the reason why you are getting angry in certain situations, you will regain control, clarity and composure. Unchecked anger can cause problems in our relationships, both personal and professional, it can create anxiety, negative thought patterns, as well as sleep disturbance.
Below I have talked about some of the reasons behind anger. If you feel that your anger is controlling you, then look through the below causes and see if you can find any that you can identify with.
Anger is an easy emotion to feel.
Anger is a primary emotion, it tends to stay close to the surface. It can create a blanket over all the other emotions we feel, making it easy to identify and handle. If we look underneath the blanket, we may find other emotions like hurt, pain, fear, even jealousy. If you truly want to manage your anger then being honest with yourself is crucial. What emotions under the blanket are you avoiding? Has the person you are angry with hurt you? If you are angry toward a situation, how has the situation made you feel? Is your anger covering anxiety? If so, what are you afraid of?
It’s easy to lose control when you’re angry.
Anger causes strong physical reactions; clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth, increased heart rate, sweaty palms, feeling hot in the neck or face, shaking or trembling, dizziness and even crying. When you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s hard to even think clearly, let alone communicate clearly. If you focus on these sensations and recognise that what you are feeling is the result of feeling angry, then you are less likely to get carried away by them.
Being a perfectionist can make you angry.
People who strive to be perfect, are usually driven by an inner critical voice, telling them that anything less than perfect is not good enough. In fact, the voice can be a very harsh critic continuously running a commentary on everything the individual does, making them feel like they’re not good enough, and nothing they do will be good enough. This can then turn to anger, as the individual ‘blames’ people around him for making him feel inadequate, instead of looking inside and addressing the perfectionism tendencies. Some people also get very angry with themselves, as the expectations they have for themselves are so high, they inevitably fail at everything they attempt.
Continuous repetition of our anger story.
We’ve all had times when we repeat to anyone who will listen to us what / who has made us angry, and no matter how many times you tell the story, you still get angry. This means that the story and ‘anger’ is still controlling you. To gain freedom from anger, you need to accept that repeating the story does not serve you – you’re not going to be able to change the outcome, so how much longer are you going to let the story and the people in the story control your feelings? Are they worth the time and energy you’re spending talking about them? Instead focus on why you are so angry and once you have realised the true source of your anger, you can start letting go and regaining your freedom.
Anger can come from the belief that you are always right.
Sometimes we come across people that have a very high opinion of themselves. They come across as arrogant and hold a belief that they are always right. These people want things their own way, without considering the feelings of others. They have a sense of entitlement and believe that because they are more intelligent than the people around them (they’re not) things should go their way, and when that doesn’t happen they get angry. But underneath that anger there are usually unresolved feelings of inadequacy, which drives them to act the way they do.
Anger affects relationships.
Anger is a very powerful emotion, and it can affect relationships in a very negative way. It can separate people. It pushes people away, it scares them, it can make them fight back or shut down. Relationships don’t have room to heal when they are constantly attacked by anger. Anger comes from within, it’s your reaction, by taking responsibility for your anger you can explore the triggers that are setting off your anger without blaming your partner.
Anger may get you attention.
Some people have learnt that expressing their anger can get them the attention they need, however, if you’re an adult or a child, anger will only get you negative attention. Maybe you’re getting angry because you’re not being heard, and you feel that you need to shout to be heard? There may be other ways to express yourself that don’t include angry heated discussions.
Anger can ultimately affect your quality of life, it can cause anxiety, isolation, separation, if you feel you need help in exploring and managing your anger, contact us to speak to one of our therapists today.