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The Many Faces of Anger

Mad. Angry. Pissed off. Livid. Frustrated. Fuming. Boiling. Agro. Furious. Cross. Outraged. And so the list goes. All of these words often refer to the same emotion – anger. Sometimes people don’t even realise they are angry because other feelings are stronger – depression, hurt, fear.

Physical symptoms may include tight muscles, headaches, elevated blood pressure, teeth grinding or clenching and jaw pain. Behaviour ranges from withdrawal, glares or avoidance of eye contact through to physical destruction of property and inflicting injury on others or on animals. The angry individual may argue, blame others, insist she is right, be harsh, sabotage others, punish you by withholding affection, be passive aggressive, use abusive language, take unnecessary risks, drive carelessly, drink excessively or scream and yell at others.

Anger might be focused on himself, another person, a place, a thing or a situation. The anger can originate from a single event or it could be a build-up of emotion following multiple events. The important thing for you to realise is that there is help available for you and your loved one. A psychologist can help with the assessment of the degree of anger, its source and creating tools and strategies to help you move forward.

If someone is expressing anger towards you, keep yourself safe mentally and physically. Understand and believe that you are not at fault. Seek counselling through a psychologist to help you stay healthy and learn to create healthy boundaries. Encourage the person with the anger to seek out support as well. Often, anger grows over time so it is important to resolve the anger issues.

There are techniques available to assist you in controlling your own anger. Perhaps the easiest to implement is the ‘count to 10 or 20’ technique before you react. Supplement that with taking deep slow breaths while you count and you can physically change your body’s perspective and your reaction. Likewise, intentionally forcing your body to relax by focusing on specific muscles (ie hands, arms, shoulders, neck) and working your way through your body until the anger dissipates is helpful. Walking away from the situation to regain your composure, going for a walk or run and taking a cooling shower or bath are all techniques that generally help to reduce anger.

If anger is negatively impacting your relationships, your career or your life, do seek professional help through a psychologist. A psychologist will work with you to understand where the anger comes from and how to manage it or even replace it with another emotion.

Lisa Kunde | CFHP
Lisa Kunde

Lisa Kunde has ten years experience working as a psychologist with adults in both private and public hospital settings (oncology, palliative care, chronic pain, cardio-pulmonary, psychiatric and alcohol and other drugs units).

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