The Destructiveness of Anger
If you ever feel frustrated, irritated, annoyed, or even furious from time to time, you are not alone. Why? Because anger is a normal human emotion. In fact, some anger can be helpful.
Anger is an emotion that can range from mild annoyance or irritation to intense rage. It is a complex emotion and is often misunderstood. When we become angry, we experience mental, physical and behavioural changes. These can include: having racing thoughts, becoming red in the face feeling physically twitchy.
Although anger is a normal human emotion, the trouble is that sometimes when we become angry, we behave in ways that are totally destructive and we later come to regret. Volatile and angry behaviours can cause deep problems in our daily lives - becoming destructive to our work, health and importantly, our relationships. If not properly controlled, this volatile emotion can quickly get out of control, especially during separation and divorce.
The effects of anger on intimate relationships.
Angry behaviours and aggression are destructive to human relationships including those in the family. Although conflict is normal in all human relationships, angry and escalating conflict can quickly become a destructive element in the relationship and turn a healthy relationship into a toxic one.
Think about how you feel when someone is angry with you. What are your reactions? When you feel attacked, belittled and wrongly accused you are likely to respond by becoming defensive, angry or to withdraw. Alternately, angry behaviour can be intimidating, making people feel scared and hurt. Either way, minor conflicts often blow out of proportion and spiral, with anger itself overshadowing your initial concerns.
Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone and let them know it. How did they respond? Typically, instead of addressing what is upsetting them, people on the receiving end of our anger usually retaliate with anger of their own. This usually leads to a nasty cycle of bitterness, recrimination and resentment that is, overall, unhealthy and unhelpful. Living with these negative cycles of anger does more harm than good – problems rarely get solved, and people then start arguing as a habit – often forgetting what they were fighting about in the first place.
Getting it off your chest.
Many people mistakenly believe that anger needs to be “let out” or “vented”. The theory is, that if we get things off our chests, we will feel better and be able to get on better with others. The truth is, however, that when we vent, we actually increase or angry and aggressive feelings, especially over time and we are more likely to have more conflict with others. Think about people you know who always appear to be irritated and angry – they get disproportionately annoyed at even minor everyday annoyances and aren’t much fun to be around. At the same time “bottling up” anger can lead to explosions and outbursts, or passive aggressive behaviours.
The key is to learn to communicate assertively and positively, recognising our feelings, but regulating our emotions. Being able to communicate properly and regulate your own emotions will lead to better physical and mental health and improved relationships with other people.
NEXT TIME…. How to turn down the flame on anger
Dr. Catherine Boland