Oh My God!!! Do I Have Anger “Issues”?
Do you often lose your temper? Do you often say things that later you regret because of anger? Do others consider you a volatile person, afraid to be around you, not knowing why or when you will suddenly erupt? Do you feel entitled to having these angry reactions, do you feel that others “make” you angry? Do you sometimes find that anger gives you power over others? Do you sometimes feel that if you don’t do something like breaking an object, or slamming a door, you are going to burst? Have you ever felt weak and incapable of controlling your anger? Have you become violent towards another person because of anger? Have you damaged a person’s property because of anger? If your answer is yes to just a couple of the above, then, Oh My God, You Have Anger Issues!
What is anger? Is it ok? Yes, anger is ok. It is one of our basic reactions and feelings and a natural part of our lives. It is an emotional signal of displeasure with an event or behaviour we have encountered. One of our basic skills in life is how to feel our anger, how to manage our anger, and how to express our anger appropriately. However, anger, being a reaction to some sort of conflict between our desires and the response of the environment, should not be a permanent attribute of our personality, but rather a temporary feeling which subsides as soon as the conflict is resolved.
What are the many faces of anger? Well, have you ever met a person who is constantly angry about something? There are some people who have integrated anger into their personality style as a permanent trait. They are always angry about everything. They get easily frustrated over small things, get annoyed at events that others simply ignore, and carry their anger wherever they go. No matter what the occasion, they will find something to be dissatisfied with, something they will find very annoying. It seems as if they are intentionally focusing on what can make them mad, as an excuse to let their anger out. Sometimes, such people discover that with their anger they gain control and power over others, and may use their anger deliberately as a manipulative technique. Intimidators, bullies may fall in this category.
Then, there is anger resulting from “narcissistic injury” or a perceived attack on self-esteem and feelings of insult and shame. People with unhealthy self-esteem, who feel unworthy or unloved and carry a lot of shame within them, tend to feel inordinate shame at small insignificant comments made by others, are overly touchy when criticized, ignored, or neglected and may erupt in quite violent anger, often termed “narcissistic rage”. This type of anger turned against the person who has caused the insult or the shaming experience is a way the “insulted” person has found to hit back, get revenge, or release these very intense feelings.
Another variant of narcissistic anger is paranoid anger, often as an extension of the former. In narcissistic anger what is threatened and being responded to is a perceived threat to shaky self-esteem. In paranoid anger the perceived threat is against the person’s basic security or safety. Everyone is out to get such a person, take his/her job, do him/her an injustice, fool and deceive him/her etc. This anger stems from deep feelings of insecurity and lack of trust and is expressed with self-entitlement as a means of protection against the evilness of others. Often, this type of anger takes the form of “moral indignation” – accusing others of being “wrong” or “bad” or “immoral” giving the angry person a false feeling of superiority, while covering underlying feelings of weakness, vulnerability, insecurity, or envy.
The most dangerous type of anger is sudden, explosive anger, which occurs when the individual totally loses control of himself. The causes for this type of anger may be any of the ones mentioned above, and the intensity of the anger reaction can be attributed to faulty impulse control, which may be evident in other forms of extreme impulsivity in that person’s life. People suffering from such anger may harm others or themselves as a way to rid themselves of these very powerful feelings and gain relief.
On the other hand, there are people who are afraid of anger. Perhaps, in their childhood they were taught that it was not appropriate to express anger, or they were so afraid of other people’s anger that they decided that anger was “bad”. Some people are so afraid of anger that not only do they not express it, but cover it up with various defenses so that they do not feel their anger anymore. Such people’s main concern is to keep the peace at all costs, not rock the boat, not gain the displeasure of another person, not make things even worse, not lose acceptance or love. Anger, theirs or other people’s, is just too upsetting, it disturbs their sense of security and safety and such people tend to shrink back from it and systematically avoid it. Frequently, depression or psychosomatic symptoms may result from this constant repression of anger.
Another type of not expressed anger is called passive-aggressive anger. If the people in the previous category get tumors, people in this category can “cause” tumors to others, by their obstinate uncooperativeness. Frustrating others is their specialty and their cup of tea. Late for appointments, dates, “forgetful” of things, professional procrastinators, and all of that under a meak and mild countenance and a guileless smile. In contrast to repressed anger, which is not consciously felt by the individual, passive-aggressive anger is consciously felt and consciously expressed in this indirect and masked style as a way of revenge or control of others.
And, finally, there is “healthy” anger. What are the characteristics of healthy anger?
Healthy anger is consciously felt – not repressed or avoided.
Healthy anger is filtered through our reasoning faculties and modulated.
Healthy anger is verbally expressed in a civilized and controlled manner and its aim is not to injure, attack, insult or otherwise harm the anger-provoking person, but resolve the anger-provoking situation.
Healthy anger is quickly released once the conflict is over and not held onto as resentment or hard feelings.
And when we can do all that, then with a sigh of relief we may proudly say, Thank God, I Don’t Have Anger “Issues”!!!