Anger and red flags to watch out for
Have you ever been in trouble with the police because of your anger? Were you ever asked by your job or your partner to attend anger management? Have you lost a relationship, job or friend because of your anger? Perhaps you know someone close that loses control of their temper i.e. significant other or troubled teen? If this is you, or someone you know, and you need help, let’s take a look at anger and the red flags to watch out for.
Knowing the signs of imminent anger, in you or someone else, may help you diffuse or avoid the situation and inform your choice of further action.
I’ve only ever let my anger get out of control twice, and I’ll tell you now, it wasn’t pretty, and I’m certainly not proud of it. Moreover, I was lucky the first time when the police turned up; they were really understanding and thankfully they didn’t pursue the incident. The second time was in my home when my last ex, Andrew taunted me for hours on end, yet again, and I just flew off the handle — I flipped. I was acting like a ‘crazy’ person, I’d lost it, and I don’t ever want to be that angry again — never, ever.
What is anger?
“anger is strong feeling that makes you want to hurt someone or be unpleasant because of something unfair or unkind that has happened”Cambridge Dictionary
I admit that in both instances above, I wanted to hurt someone. Not a good look and not something I’d recommend.
We all experience the feeling of anger, right? It’s a normal emotion, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling mad. What counts is how we handle it (and ourselves) when we’re angry. Anger is often expressed differently by different people and can vary in intensity. It might be suppressed by some or overtly expressed by others, or appear very subtly in some cases.
Sometimes, we hold on to anger, which can in turn lead to resentment. I know when I held onto my anger, and
didn’t couldn’t address the trigger, I became resentful. Like when my older sister in the States decided not to invite me to my niece’s wedding because allegedly, I asked my 21 year old niece to buy me drugs while I was holidaying with them? Wtf? Does my sister not know me?
And, my sister never told me this herself; I had to find out from my poor mum, who felt caught in the middle. I tried many times to contact Sis, but she ignored all my attempts. She was obviously angry but should have confronted me so that I could at least refute her allegation and defend myself. I was left feeling both hurt and angry because she effectively shut me up. She didn’t allow me to speak. Yes, I felt resentful!
And no, I won’t forgive her for denying me the pleasure of seeing one of my nieces getting married at Gretna Green. That unforgiveness doesn’t bother me but that same situation might affect someone else differently.
Is anger a mental illness?
Oooh, if I had a £ for every time a patient told me that their anger, rage, or violent behaviour was part of their mental illness? For some, it was just that — anger. However, according to Healthline.com, many things can trigger anger, including stress, family problems, and financial issues.
For some people, anger’s caused by an underlying disorder, such as alcoholism or depression. Anger itself isn’t considered a disorder, but it’s a known symptom of several mental health conditions. If your emotional state’s up and down like a roller coaster, there could be biochemical reasons, which may need to be checked out by a GP. The anger could be a symptom of bipolar or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), where anger might occur due to frustration with inability to prevent obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors.
Why get angry?
Mind.org suggests that feelings of anger arise due to how we interpret and react to certain situations. Everyone has their own triggers for what makes them angry, but some common ones include situations in which we feel:
- threatened or attacked, like me being constantly attacked for ‘cheating’, even with a gay workmate, or ‘having a little tickle with a colleague behind the office filing cabinets’ (Urgh! That’s exactly how he put it).
- frustrated or powerless, for instance, being locked in my own home and having to listen the constant ugly diatribe being trotted out every day.
- like we’re being invalidated or treated unfairly, for example when my ex’s floozy called me all night, every night for months then hung up, before she landed on. my. doorstep, and I could take no more — hence the incident with the police.
- like people are not respecting our feelings or possessions, someone’s trying to take something from us, for instance, if someone tried to steal my bag, I think I’d be so angry that I’d fight them and could end up badly hurt. But it just infuriates me that some ‘people’ think they can just take what other decent people have worked hard for.
Anger and me
We all tend to perceive things differently, so something that makes you angry might not make me feel the same way. I
could would laugh at someone ‘frightening the life out of my friends or my sister’, whereas it’s made them want to lash out. They don’t find it funny but that doesn’t mean that they’ve perceived it ‘wrongly’, or that they were wrong to feel angry — we just see things differently.
How we learn to cope with angry feelings is often influenced by our childhood and upbringing. We’re quite often given messages about anger as little ones, that may make it harder to manage it as an adult. We might have been raised in an angry or violent household and we’ve seen how our parents deal and cope with anger.
My dad was a gambler and regularly got angry, mainly taking his anger out physically on my mum. She remained silent or whimpered during any beating, trying not to upset us. I realised, in hindsight and through counselling, that I copied mum’s behaviours, and also remained silent during my ex’s violent outbursts.
Recognising signs of anger
Mentalhelp.net write “The first step in effective anger management is learning how to recognize when you are angry. Some angry people see their emotions as a black or white state—they are either raging mad or they are calm. In reality, anger is not black and white, but rather quite gray. Anger occurs on a continuum between rage and calm where most of the time people experience some gradation of anger between these two extremes.”
Fortunately, most of us experience emotional, physical and behavioural signs letting us know when we’re starting to get angry.
Symptoms of anger and red flags to look out for
The symptoms of anger fall mainly into into two types; emotional and physical. Emotional symptoms for you or someone else might include:
- feeling tetchy, irritable
- stressed or feeling overwhelmed
- like you want to run away from the situation
- sad or hurt
- guilt or shame
- feel like striking out verbally or physically
Physical symptoms might include:
- increased heart rate, heart thumping
- increased blood pressure
- shaking or trembling
- headache or stomach ache
- clenched jaws
- muscles tensing (getting ready for fight or flight)
You might also notice that you’re / they’re:
- pacing the floor
- craving a cigarette, drugs or alcohol
- rubbing your head
- being offhand, flippant or sarcastic
- losing sense of humour
- clenching fists and maybe cupping one fist with other hand
- being abusive
- starting to scream, shout, or cry
Take control of your anger
If any of the above red flags sounds like you or someone you know, there is hope. In the first instance, speak to your GP and ask about counselling to get to the root of the problem, or anger management courses that you/they could attend.
In the meantime, you might want to think about:
- improving your communication skills so that you can express your anger more effectively and and learn to think before you speak
- improve your communication skills so you can have a better conversation with your troubled teen.
- learning some relaxation, visualisation or mindfulness and coping skills
- how to improve your self-awareness; important in order to identify the true reason for your anger
- strategies to help relieve your stress, and make better choices responding to stress at work or home
- how to respond more effectively when someone’s becoming angry i.e. you could use humour or you might want to hone your listening skills.
Over to you
How do you deal with your anger? Has it ever been a problem? Is your significant other or teenager angry all the time? Have you any tips or thoughts on anger management? As always, I’m looking forward to your comments and any questions.
Related: Managing your anger issues (1). Anger management tips (2)
37 thoughts on “Anger and red flags”
This article hit a little too close to home. :/
Oh dear 🙁 I hoping you’re working it out Mio 🙂
It’s politics. And, a little childhood neglect. Not sure what to do. Any book/podcast recommendations for either one?
Oh dear. The politics tend to be way worse in America. And while I understand how we can become angry because of the injustice etc, unless we direct our anger at the right person/people, things will never change. That said, it isn’t always easy to do when we’re experiencing mental illness and have enough to think about or deal with.
I know if I wanted to tell the powers that be how I feel about all their foolish decisions, I’d be permanently writing to every UK politician, local Town Halls and the media, along with the world and his wife. So while I’m angry about a lot of politics, I don’t have the time or the wherewithal to do anything about it.
Thanks for your reply. I have to work more on it! 🙂
It’s not always easy. Learn some breathing techniques, they good to use when you find yourself starting to get angry. Take a big breath………….. and relax
Definitely. I have some that I can do. Thanks so much! 🙂 🙂
That’s good Mio, just keep practicing til you’ve got it perfect and easy to use when you need it 🙂 x
Thanks Caz! 🙂
Ah, let me think about the recommendations part x
My mom has anger issues. I used to go from white to black, when I couldn’t hold the anger in anymore. I’ve learned to notice the signs and to let it out before there is an explosion. Dealing with depression changed that a bit, it made it more difficult. Sometimes its so hard to just keep your head above water that there is no energy or mental space left for anger management.
That’s good that you notices the signs, explosions are never good are they. You just feel worse afterwards, for taking it out on our nearest and dearest.
I agree, depression just numbs you – leaving no energy and no wherewithal to get angry. Unfortunately for me, holding it all in also adds to the depression, feelings of low self worth, and hopelessness. It becomes a vicious circle.
Great point that imploded anger or emotions can lead the path to depression. I guess I need to be very careful about that and check in with myself to do what is required in the moment. Thank you for your answer, it did help me a small step forward again 🙂
Good to hear I helped Kacha. I tend to let people know if I feel upset or angered by their (perceived) actions, nicely of course. I’d say “I felt really angry when you didn’t ………” rather than “You made me so angry when……..” The other person doesn’t feel under attack and get defensive, they’re more likely to apologise as it wasn’t their intention to anger, upset or sadden.
I think perhaps we have to use more of the “I” statements and own our own feelings.
I statements are very good to untangle a situation and to use in general.
I think so 🙂
My daughter used to drive me crazy. If I got angry, I used to worry afterwards that it was me.
Since she left, there has been nothing, plus, also since she left, she has been on the receiving end of several anger outbursts. One guy was found guilty in court of assaulting her.
I’m kinda wary of saying that the victim is partly culpable, but certainly my daughter knows what buttons to push to wind people up.
I used to see that exact same thing with my parents, btw. My mum would shout at my dad, who would lose his rag and hit her. I did wonder sometimes why they stayed together. I mean, clearly what my dad did was wrong, but my mum certailny added fuel to the fire.
Oh yes, I can see how that happens. People knowing how to push the buttons and doing it, even tho they know the inevitable outcome.
Me, I’d just be mute when exes shouted and screamed at me, terrified. And I certainly wouldn’t have tried to push buttons. Do you know what exes have said, it made them more mad because I wouldn’t argue back.
But I hated any sort of confrontation and louds shouts or screams. I couldn’t see the point of two people yelling as normally one can’t hear the other through the rage and vice versa. It’s never solved anything.
It’s kinda nice being married because there’s very little confrontation. I mean, we both get pissed off with each other from time to time, but never on the scale of my parents. It makes you realise that things can be different…
Oh crikey yes, Tell me anyone who’s in a long term relationship or married that doesn’t get p’d off. And you’re right, it’s good to know that things can be different. My sons were always terrified of being like their dad, an arse at the best of times. Thankfully they are not like him in that way. They’ve inherited only the good things from him lol 😉
Oh dear, it seems like now, she’s having to learn what it feels like on the receiving end. But that’s awful that she was assaulted, this is never good.
I’d agree with you that sometimes the perp pushes all the right buttons and that can wind up even the calmest of us. But, (theorists say) we still have the choice of whether we let this make us angry. We can choose our response. Lol.
it’s a luxury sometimes to be sitting there all nice and calm and talk about “choice”. Then as soon as you’re in the middle of it, it goes out of the window 🙂. It’s good to sit and reflect on things, actually, because you realise that things are often not just black & white.
I know, all those choices to remain calm, focused and rational soon fly out, once someone’s pushed every button they know of to wind you up. I’ve been there once or twice 😉
Ha, reflection and hindsight are wonderful things eh? But yes, they give you an opportunity to think things through and realise our own part in an argument, making amends and apologising where necessary.
I’ve only had one really out of control angry outburst, and I threw a large rock through an ex’s window. I was totally unhinged at that point, and it ended up in hospital the next day.
Oops. Apart from it ending in you being hospitalised, do you regret the rock throwing? 😉
Yeah, it’s not something I would even consider doing under normal circumstances.
On my two occasions, wow, I’d never have believed I was capable of such outbursts and I’m glad the police saw it that way – I could have ended up being admitted too.
I’m one of those people that keeps quiet when something irritates or upsets me because I don’t like confrontation but then it builds until there are enough ‘small things’ to result in an outburst. Trouble is that when the outburst comes it seems as though I’m overreacting because whatever prompted it is in itself not that big of a deal. Definitely a thought provoking read Caz 😊
Lol, that’s the trouble Jess, half way through the outburst, you forget why it became such a big deal and you feel a bit of a fool for overreacting lol.
That’s why I always find it best to say something early on. I find it easier to say “I felt really upset when you said……..” or “I felt hurt you forgot my birthday” rather than “You made me angry, sad or hurt.” I’ve even asked “Did you mean to upset me when you……?”
It tends to stop people from getting all defensive and they’re more likely to listen and apologise for any slight you might have felt.
It stops me from building it all up lol.
Such good advice Caz, thanks! Definitely worth a try, when you explain it in that way it doesn’t seem as difficult to find the courage to say something straight away 😊
Oh good 🙂
This was timely…
I hope in a good way.
Yes… just reminders of things I need to work on.
Everyone has their own anger style, influenced by a combination of personality and life experience. For instance, I can flare up fairly quick, but if I get the chance to talk it out, I also cool down fast. Often, though, I’ve felt I had to hide my anger which led to explosions when I finally couldn’t hold it in any longer.
Yes, of course we all have our style and mine used to be mutism. I was too scared to be angry, in case I never stopped! Counselling helped me get round that one. Now, I do get angry, of course but I’ve learnt how express it – clearly and calmly.
I can imagine, like you, it would lead to an explosion, a volcano erupting lol.