People lose their tempers in a wide variety of ways, as the video below demonstrates.
In certain situations anger can be a natural and necessary response. When triggered, long-term survival responses enable you to respond to instantly and without deliberation in order to save your life. If one of our prehistoric ancestors was walking past a bush in the African savannah and a tiger attacked there was no need for he or she to worry about digesting their last meal or thinking about sex. All their energy had to be harnessed towards powering the muscles for fighting or fleeing and sharpening the mind to exploit every possibility for surviving the attack.
This focus of energy away from long-term to immediate survival becomes harmful if occurring over an extended period. When anger is prolonged, problems are likely to arise in our personal and business relationships, sleep can be interrupted, our immune system weakened, there can be an increased risk of heart and digestive problems.
One can become addicted to anger as see it as the only response to frustrations and set- backs.
Our sensitivity to the cues that cause us to lose our tempers, even in situations where no genuine threat is present, can be increased in a number of ways.
After an especially traumatic event, or events, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop which causes a hypersensitivity to anything, a person’s appearance, manner or even their tone of voice that reminds one of the experiences.
An adult bullied or abused as a child, for example, may react with rage and panic to anything that recalls the initial verbal or physically abuse. They may feel trapped and helpless, instinctively ‘seeing red’ and exploding with rage. This is a defence mechanism designed to protect against the fear or panic experienced in childhood. Click to learn more about the ways anger affects families.
Sometimes it is a strategy learned when growing up. Experience has taught them getting angry is the most effective, often the only, way to manage conflict.
Anger may also arise when people perceive threats, that aren’t really threats at all. For example becoming angry when waiting in a queue because unconsciously they feel ‘stuck’ or trapped and want to get out. Another trigger for rage may arise from feelings of being ignored or not being listened to. It is their way of fighting to escape from the ‘unheard’ box.
This can be as slight as a person’s appearance, manner or even their tone of voice.
Through various skills and techniques and an understanding of anger and its place within human experience, you can learn to address the cause of the anger and begin to re-programme your neurology so that you respond more appropriately in situations.
You can, for example, help to control your anger by learning how to control your breathing – Click to find out how, Managing Anger by Managing Breathing.