What really is anger? It seems that many are inhibited by “anger”, but is this a myth, or does anger really take over our behaviour and control us? Anger cannot simply be viewed as one thing, it can be considered to comprise of many aspects, including the combination of thoughts, feeling and urges to act. It is often triggered by a multitude of factors ranging from situational cues to a build up of unexpressed emotion. It has often been said that anger is a secondary emotion, often arising due to the person experiencing other emotions that they may not be aware of, such as sadness, grief, anxiety or regret. It is from the experience of these other emotions that anger occurs, often masking the persons true feelings and state.
Regardless of the true cause of anger, one thing that is certain is that anger causes suffering. Suffering almost always occurs to the person experiencing the anger and more often than not those close to that person also suffer. For a long period of time people have tried to manage their anger. Some have succeeded in their quest, others have not. Since the early days of anger management the field of psychology has advanced considerably. Leading approaches to working with anger now emphasise that anger can be controlled and that a person has a choice in how they respond to their angry feeling. The solution to anger is to not try to keep the anger down when it arises or to try to get rid of it, but rather change one’s relationship with their anger and their response to angry thoughts and feelings. The person needs to reclaim their life, instead of anger claiming them. This can be achieved through bringing acceptance and compassion towards your anger, yourself and others. Through living a life guided by values and acceptance, the path to approaching and overcoming the struggle with anger will reside and you will be able to take back control of your life.
Harris, R. (2007). The happiness trap: Stop struggling, start living. Exisle Publishing: New Zealand.
Eifert, G. H., Mckay, M., & Forsyth, J.P (2006). ACT on life not on anger: The new acceptance and commitment therapy guide to problem anger. New Harbinger Publications: California.