While anger is a natural and sometimes protective emotion, it is a beast that can lead to problematic behaviour if not controlled

Faith Wood: Taming the irrational beast called anger

You might have come across a video of a man punching another pedestrian who he believed took his photo without permission. Once the video surfaced, the man apologized, citing his behaviour as uncharacteristic.

In our fast-paced, stressful world, it’s easy to lash out and blame others when we experience emotional turmoil. Anger, a powerful emotion, warrants discussion – just try not to get too riled up by my thoughts on this intense feeling.

Anger is a natural emotion that can protect us from threats to our physical or emotional well-being. When used constructively, anger can motivate us to pursue goals we might otherwise avoid. In this way, anger isn’t inherently problematic.

However, if you find yourself getting furious when someone cuts you off in traffic or your blood pressure rises when your child misbehaves, anger might be a problem for you.

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When anger flares, the left hemisphere of your brain becomes highly active, employing a kind of simplistic logic, while the context-processing right hemisphere is largely ignored. This makes lashing out seem logical (if any thought is involved at all).

For some, anger provides a thrill in an otherwise mundane day. Testosterone and adrenaline increase, creating a rush; some of us become addicted to this intensity, even though it’s often unpleasant or scary.

Chronic anger can attract attention, elevating one’s status as others constantly monitor their reactions. Used this way, anger becomes a bullying tactic.

Extreme anger can lead to actions we deeply regret. What seems like a good idea when angry can feel shameful once we calm down. When strong emotions hijack the thinking brain, our IQ drops significantly. Even the brightest minds can become scarcely more coherent than a wild animal.

We adopt simplistic, black-and-white perspectives, seeing others as inferior if they dare to disagree. Anger can become a conditioned response triggered automatically by specific individuals or situations.

To tame anger, start by identifying your triggers and practicing deactivation techniques. Then, explore when anger becomes problematic.

  • Are you overtired, under time pressure, or feeling disrespected?
  • Does alcohol consumption exacerbate your anger?
  • Do you get angry when others shirk their responsibilities?

Count, breathe, and shift your posture. Before reacting, breathe deeply and count to five. Look toward the ceiling to bypass the amygdala and activate the hippocampus, bringing endorphins and context to the situation.

Lean on curiosity. When you feel anger, interrupt it with questions: What’s another way of looking at this? Did I miss something?

Anger happens quickly, so rehearsing these strategies can help ensure your response to future triggers is calm and measured, preventing regrettable actions.

By managing anger effectively, we can avoid explosive reactions and make more rational decisions, fostering healthier interactions in both personal and professional settings.

Faith Wood is a professional speaker, author, and certified professional behaviour analyst. Before her career in speaking and writing, she served in law enforcement, which gave her a unique perspective on human behaviour and motivations. Faith is also known for her work as a novelist, with a focus on thrillers and suspense. Her background in law enforcement and understanding of human behaviour often play a significant role in her writing.

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The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are theirs alone and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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