Anger is a very natural response to perceived threats or situations where you feel deliberately wronged. It's often quick and explosive, and it has an immediate physiological response, which we'll go into later. Anger is usually triggered by external factors, and it's generally a very explosive emotion. At times, you may feel so angry that it simply cannot be expressed verbally or physically.
But while we all get angry from time to time, some people start to feel angry more and more often, and the triggers become less and less significant. They will anger at the smallest of things, and that anger will escalate rather than explode and then disappear. This leads to chronic anger problems, which is when your anger stops being a normal, healthy emotion and starts causing problematic and violent behaviur. And that's something that can have a massive impact on your life.
'But it's just an emotion Andrew! It can't be that bad.' I hear you say. Well, here are just 4 ways anger can impact your life.
1. Anger Can Impact Your Physical Health
Anger is, at its core, a primitive response to stress. The brain sends out all sorts of chemicals and signals when you experience anger, designed to put you in prime condition to combat the threat and solve the problem. But this is only meant to be temporary. Operating consistently at high levels of stress can cause a lot of health issues, and actually make you less able to handle stressful situations. Just a few of the health risks associated with anger include:
- Headaches and migraines
- Digestive problems
- High blood pressure
- Skin problems
- Increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke
- Increased risk of serious injury (due to conflict-seeking behaviour)
- Increased risk of diabetes
- A weakened immune system
- Increased risk of breathing problems (mainly for men)
- Increased risk of substance abuse
Hormones can also have a lot to do with experiencing anger. For example, a common condition for women is post-partum rage - the sudden feelings of intense anger caused by hormone surges after giving birth. Menopause has also been known to cause anger and intense mood swings thanks to the changes in hormone levels in your body. Hormonal imbalances or excess testosterone in both genders can also cause increased anger and mood swings. So if you're feeling angry a lot for seemingly no reason, it may be worth looking into your hormones as well.
2. Anger Can Impact Your Mental Health
Along with the physical; health issues, living with chronic anger can cause some mental health problems as well. This consistent high level of anger takes up a huge amount of mental energy, clouding your thinking and making it much harder to concentrate on anything – including the things you enjoy in life. It can also lead to:
3. Anger Can Impact Your Relationships
When it comes to expressing your anger there are a lot of options, but if you struggle with anger your options tend to boil down to just 2. You can internalise it, let it simmer away, punish and isolate yourself – not a good option. The other is to externalise it, let it boil over and say or do hurtful things to yourself and others – a worse option.
Either of these options will have the same effect – it will take you away from your loved ones and make it hard for you to form and sustain relationships. Long-term internalised anger tends to create feelings of hatred in you, and if you’re lashing out at your loved ones you will quickly ruin the emotional bond you have. Over time, this creates lasting scars in the people you love most, and it will make it difficult for them to be around you. Chronic or explosive anger can make it difficult for them to trust you, speak honestly or feel comfortable around you, and it can cause significant mental and emotional harm to children as well. Interestingly, studies have shown that women tend to experience depression most as a result of anger issues, while men tend to experience physical health issues more.
Yes, it can sometimes be healthy to express your anger in a relationship (of any kind), but the key word is sometimes. Research has shown that anger in relationships can prompt a cycle of mistreatment from both parties, and most people who struggle with anger will also struggle to maintain relationships or friendships until they do some anger management work.
4. Anger Can Impact Your Career
You will spend around one-third of your life at work, so if you struggle with anger there is little doubt that your work life will suffer as a result. It’s not just your relationships with colleagues and managers that will be affected (for the reasons explained above), but your performance as well. When you’re angry your focus is shifted into protection mode – thoughts of hatred, revenge and action to resolve the thing causing you to be angry. This takes your focus away from productive work, and will destroy your work output, cause you to miss deadlines and any work you do manage will be of poor quality. In fact this can be such an issue that many workplaces now offer anger management courses or resources to help keep their employees productive.
It's never too late to take action and tackle your anger head-on. Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you take control of your angry thoughts, and supports you in developing more effective coping strategies for the future. We’ll work together to help you react to situations in a more beneficial way, and use guided imagery to build positive behavioural templates, increasing your confidence and self-worth.
I also offer a free emotional health check online, so you can see if your anger is healthy, or if you would benefit from some support moving forward. If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch to book a free, confidential chat to explore what you want to achieve and whether solution focused hypnotherapy could help you.