We all know what happens. Something rubs you the wrong way. Anger rises up inside you. Sometimes we cannot let go of it. Why?
What is anger? According to research, anger is an “emotional state” that varies from in intensity and manifestation. Physical and emotional changes take place suddenly, or they build into a deep rage and intensity. Physical signs of anger can include increased heart rate, sweating. increased blood pressure or muscle tension. Emotional signs vary but can range from crying to extreme rage. (https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/control)
Anger is a normal, human reaction to stress. The American Psychological Association states, “Anger can be a good thing. It can give you a way to express negative feelings, for example, or motivate you to find solutions to problems.” Even Jesus got angry!
Why do we get angry?
When you witness, or know about something that you feel is wrong, how do you react? I want to see people treated fairly. I have been in a situation where I became angry at someone because I felt they treated a friend wrong. I wanted justice for my friend. It was not my problem, or my direct concern, but I was angry nevertheless!
What if you see a family member treated with disrespect, or you know that they are being mistreated? Most of us would want to step in and bring about justice. Unfortunately, it is not always our place to do so. Unresolved justice turns to anger.
With recovery families, I see anger manifest as “Why is this happening? Why can’t he stop? I am so mad at him for what he did!” Hurt families reject and push away out of anger.
2. Emotional trigger
I call it bumping into my past. We all have emotional triggers that are connected to past wounds or experiences. When we are confronted by a new situation that bumps into the past, anger can result. For example, I still have difficulty facing conflict with men. Even though I may be in complete control and leading the meeting, if a man becomes angry or tries to disrespect or confront me on an issue, it bumps into my past. I react strongly, with both anger and emotion.
What really makes you angry? Look beyond the present situation and see if you can find the emotional trigger. Have you experienced trauma in the past? I can almost guarantee you will have an emotional trigger. Trauma responses include fight or flight. For some of us, unhealed wounds can continue to produce this response when triggered.
For successful long-term recovery, we need to be willing to address our triggers, especially the ones connected to the past. Its never easy, but always needed.
3. Stress response
Anger physically causes chemical reactions in the body. The adrenal glands produce the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. When anger is a direct response to overwhelming stress, the body is flooded with these hormones. (https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/anger-how-it-affects-people) According to mentalhelp.net, unhealthy stress, or distress, is directly related to anger. Sometimes life is just too much. We’ve all been there I believe. One thing after the other piles up, and our brains simply cannot deal with them fast enough. Anger can be a by-product of overwhelming stress. Both family members and those in recovery find themselves under fire from stress at times. We need to work together to support each other and reduce our negative responses as much as possible. Families recover better together!
Why am I always so angry?
I don’t know. But you do. Somewhere within you, there is a reason. Look past the actual situation and step back from your emotions. What is really going on? My greatest concern is for my friends who are fighting for their sobriety. Anger has the potential to take you of course and into a dark hole. Please, if you are struggling today, reach out and let’s talk! Don’t let anger take control! It is normal to get angry, but we must not let ourselves take it too far.