Does this sound familiar?
We are often taught that being angry is an appropriate reaction for men to some situations. It becomes a substitute for all other emotions, and grows to the point that the smallest frustration is capable of setting you off into a rage. The worst part if this is you don't want to be angry. You don't want to be the guy who punches the wall. You don't want to be the one in the group that people are careful around. You don't want to be known to have a temper, a short fuse, "anger issues," or lose yet another relationship due to your temper. You don't want to be scared of what you might do.
A lot is known about anger. We know that it's a component (as is fear, stress, and anxiety) of the "fight or flight" response in the brain. Anger is the fight version of this ancient mechanism, with your body preparing itself to engage in a life-threatening situation. It does that by flooding you with adrenaline and cortisol. Once flooded with these hormones, you are at the greatest risk of being or feeling overwhelmed by your anger. Blood is redirected to your muscles, your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure increase, and your mind is sharpened and focussed. In fact, the reason you may shake or tremble with anger is your body dumping the unused energy.
Acting out in this ultra-angry manner is unhelpful, and won't help you to resolve your feelings. Neither is repressing your anger, bottling it up. That can lead to feelings of depression, and can also result in an explosive rage.
There are many ways to treat anger, and to enable you to live as the person you prefer to be.
Some short-term things that can be helpful are:
- As soon as you feel the adrenaline rush, take yourself away from the situation.
- Understand that emotions, such as anger, are an ordinary part of human life.
- Do something physical such as a walk, run, or go to the gym.
Longer term solutions revolve around re-training your mind and your body with such techniques such as:
- Identifying the source of your anger, and working with that.
- Separating yourself from your anger and create an identity that isn't an angry one.
- Learn what emotions you actually want to express, and train yourself in expressing those emotions.
- Identifying your physical reaction to anger, and bring awareness and control to that, rather than reacting from it.
- Incorporate exercise and specialised relaxation techniques into your standard week. These can be as simply as walking and breathing exercises.
- Remember it's the "fight response" version of you that is reacting, with your regular sense and preferences simply missing from your toolbox. Learning that you are not your anger.
These solutions are often easiest with the assistance of a professional who can guide you through the process of becoming the non-angry person you prefer to be. It can be hard and painful work, but it's productive work and the upshot is finding happiness along the way.