The Cost of Anger
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The Cost of Angerby Sherry Davies-Shelak of Inner Rhythm
Image: Martin Davidson
I’m pretty sure that we all know people who are angry a lot of the time or who have a short fuse.
I'm also pretty sure that at times you may have thought to yourself ‘they are going to put themselves in an early grave carrying on like that.’
Most people are aware that ongoing anger can eventually lead to a number of physical illnesses.
The most common two are heart disease and stroke. But it also has other, immediate, unpleasant effects.
It takes vast amounts of mental and physical energy. It robs us of our enjoyment of life. It twists our thinking and can destroy relationships with those we love and with work colleagues by playing the blame game. It can also cause us to play the guilt game on ourselves and feel depressed and unable to think of creative solutions to the very things that anger us.
Anger makes you the victim!
When you allow someone else's behaviour to make you angry you are the victim. Chances are they will go off and forget about it. You are being controlled by them without their even knowing about it - as you fume and fret and relive the event for days or months afterwards - while trying to enjoy yourself with friends or family, while relaxing on the beach, or while trying to sleep at night.
Anger that is directed at another can have a debilitating effect on our health and wellbeing. Apart from that though, it can have an effect on our happiness and make us feel like we are being victimised.
Make no mistake, when anger is in control of you, you are a victim of whatever perceived wrong has been done to you.
By constantly rehashing an event in your mind long after it is over, you are feeding your anger and this does not allow for a resolution in the situation. No amount of blaming will resolve a situation.
We generally get angry for one of two reasons.
Either we want something in our life that we do not have or we have something in our life that we do not want. If you look at anger you will find this is almost always the case.
So anger is generally a response to something in our life that is outside our control. What if we gave up having to have control? This may also include having expectations of others around us.
The only person we control is us.
The 'right or happy' question.
When we are angry we often think we are right and justified to think that way. We may think to ourselves that we are right and if other people just did things the way I want them to, we could all get along just fine. This is not only silly but extremely egotistical.
You may think the world revolves around you but it does not. The only way it could is if you were the only person on the planet. We are social animals and need the support and companionship of other people. This means we have to learn to get along with others. How much fun would a world of one be?
Getting upset and angry over the actions of others, over which we have no control, is not going to make us any happier. People will still cut you off in traffic, be late, disagree with you or sometimes be rude.
We have no right to tell other people how they should live their lives. This changes nothing and helps no-one. A friend once told me, you can be RIGHT or you can be HAPPY. It is very rare when there is a disagreement or misunderstanding that you can be both.
We get angry when how we expect things to be and how they actually are do not match. When you have something in your life that you do not want or you do not have something in your life that you do want, both of these things can cause you to feel angry.
Anger is always a cover for fear.
What to do about anger?
Get to know yourself and what ‘sets off’ or triggers your anger.
These triggers are pulling your strings but as soon as you recognise them and work to change them they lose their power.
One way to do this is to jot down in a journal or notebook what things set you off. As you become aware of this consider how they affect your overall happiness and well-being.
You may find that you feel bad about losing control or letting yourself down. Your self esteem usually takes a hammering when you get angry and you don’t feel good about yourself. And finally, it can affect your relationships with family, friends and loved ones.
Who wants to be around an angry person all the time? No-one wants to feel as though they are walking on eggshells. And your anger can make you feel bad all over again when you see reason and apologise, promising to never act or speak like that again. Other people may be justified in not believing you.
Another key is the always living in the events of your life rather than living in the moment. By re-running conversations and events in your mind you are losing out on the wonderful opportunities and blessings that are available to you in each moment.
Make a decision each day to watch for anger cues or triggers. When you recognise a situation that may cause you to become angry, make a decision that the cost to your health, relationships and self esteem is too high to let anger win. Sometimes this will mean letting the car push in front of you in traffic, not arguing with the uncle at a family gathering who is always ‘right’ or walking away from an argument until you can discuss it calmly and rationally.
We often get angry about things that will not matter in the weeks and months to come. If it won’t matter next week it is probably not worth getting angry about today.
These techniques are not a magic pill that will stop you from ever becoming angry again. However, when you do get angry just make peace with yourself, practice some calming techniques and recognise what happened.
If you work on it on a daily basis you will come to be more in control of you anger rather than it controlling you.
It's not all 'bad'.
Do remember that not all anger is unhealthy. Sometimes anger is quite appropriate – if someone is trying to kidnap one of our children for example, it can be our final defence against allowing other people to manipulate or dominate us. And it can motivate us to take action against injustice.
Anger is healthy when it is not ongoing but is usefully channelled into appropriate action.
Flourishnote: Some good advice in this article. How do you cope with anger? Do you have any other points you'd like to share with readers? Post them in the comments box below.
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