Is My Anger Normal, Or Should I Seek Help?
To put it another way, life wouldn’t be life without the petty irritations that we all have to deal with. When our tempers are triggered, it’s normal to feel frustrated. Actually, rage is a healthy emotion that, when expressed constructively, may improve communication and motivate people to make great life changes.
But controlling rage is difficult for some people. Those who suffer from “toxic” or “out-of-control” rage are often the last to realize they have a problem. In an effort to “maintain the peace,” their loved ones have learned to suppress their own emotions, pick their words carefully, and generally seem like they couldn’t care less about the outcome of an argument.
Common Reasons for Intense Anger
If you are uncertain 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 is a frequent coping mechanism for dealing with emotional distress. There is a physiological reason for why people with anger problems may lose it so easily and frequently.
Norepinephrine, one of the hormones released by the brain after an outburst of rage, has analgesic properties. Whether or not we are conscious of it, being triggered typically causes us to relive painful experiences from our past.
To avoid feeling exposed, neglected, irrelevant, rejected, or unworthy, anger in the moment produces a potent brain chemical that numbs our emotional anguish. However, the chemical response of rage has the potential to become addictive, much like any other substance.
Another chemical released by the brain during a fit of anger is called epinephrine. While norepinephrine acts like a pain reliver, epinephrine acts like an amphetamine, allowing us to feel a sudden surge of energy throughout our entire body.
This adrenaline rush counteracts our feeling of powerlessness in the moment, or maybe in our life in general. How seductive is that? Many medical experts will tell you that epinephrine is every bit as addictive as alcohol and cocaine, so it’s no wonder so many people are addicted to their own anger.
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 Managing Anger
1. Recognize the problem – As with a substance addiction, it’s important to recognize and admit you may have a problem.
2. Monitor your behavior – Keep an anger journal and 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 you feel you may have an issue with anger and would like to explore therapy, please get in touch. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.
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