Everyone gets angry sometimes. It’s a normal human emotion. Anger can even be healthy if you express it constructively, such as when anger prompts you to defend yourself or others from unfair treatment. However, anger can also be destructive. It can lead to self-sabotaging behavior. It can alienate you from friends and family, get you into legal trouble, and increase your risk of stress-related health problems. However, it’s not always easy to know if you have an anger problem. If you get angry about something, you usually feel justified. Sometimes you can be angry and not know it. Here are some signs that you might have an anger problem.
Anger is fundamentally a response to a threat, which means anger typically comes with the physiological signs of preparing to fight or run. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase, you may clench your jaw or fists, the hair might stand up on your neck, and your face might flush. You might hold your breath or breathe shallowly. Fortunately, you can also reduce your anger by breathing deeply and letting your jaw, neck, and hands relax.
The primary emotional sign is obviously anger, but if you pay attention, there are other signs too. You might feel scared, overwhelmed, attacked, or stressed. You may also feel disoriented if your emotions are too strong. You may feel trapped and have a desire to getaway. Or you may feel the need to lash out at someone you hold responsible for your anger.
Rage is really what separates normal, healthy anger from an anger problem. When you go into a rage, you can’t think straight. You might not even be able to see straight. You may act impulsively and aggressively and hardly be aware of what you’re doing. While it may be possible for anyone to go into a rage on very rare occasions, if you can think of several occasions when you went into a rage and did something you later regretted, you may have an anger problem.
Most of the time, breaking things is an unhealthy way of expressing anger. It’s an indication you have lost control. Breaking things is the complete opposite of expressing your anger constructively. It can be an expensive habit and it can frighten the people around you, especially kids. If you can think of more than one time you’ve gotten angry and broken something, you might have an anger problem.
Passive aggression is one example of when you can be angry and not know it. People often become passive-aggressive when they make a habit of repressing their anger. They might have controlling parents, or they might have a deep fear of the damage anger can cause, so rather than express anger, they just swallow it. Passive aggression typically comes out as sarcasm, stubbornness, procrastination, self-sabotage, and avoidance. This may seem like a way of avoiding the negative consequences of anger, but it can do a lot of damage to your career and relationships.
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