Anger Management in Cardiff
What is anger?
Anger is a basic and normal human emotion that you can feel on a daily basis. Anger is not problematic in its milder form of irritability; feeling angry is nature’s way of telling you that you have perceived a threat, a wrong-doing or an injustice. Uncontrolled and persistent anger however can be harmful. It can be detrimental to the individual’s health, and damage family, social and working relationships. When anger is unrestrained, it can show itself in situations where innocent people can be hurt or even killed. Examples can include road rage, domestic abuse, and individual and gang violence. With anger, property can be damaged with complete disregard.
What happens when you are angry?
Anger is a heightened state of arousal that prepares you to deal with perceived threats. When you are angry, stress hormones are released to alter the functioning of your mind. Your mind is alerted to the perceived threat in a distorted way. The rational intelligence normally used to handle situations is swallowed up by a primitive “caveman” logic to either attack or be defeated.
Your body also responds to the stress hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol are released into the body, increasing your heart rate and causing your breathing to become more rapid and shallow. Non-essential functions like digestion are de-prioritised. Blood flow is diverted to voluntary muscles as if preparing you to go into battle and strike out. With higher levels of anger you are a machine poised to deal with the perceived threat with very basic “animal” instincts.
Not all anger is primitive however. You can get angry and then rationally evaluate the most appropriate response. Even when anger is moderate or calculated, these same physical reactions can still take place. But there is more interpretation and analysis of how the situation is affecting you and how you externally want to deal with it.
Cognitive processes help you to assess the injustice of the situation. Behavioural processes consider how you express the anger. It can include changes in your facial expressions and posture. Physical expressions involve acts of aggression towards people and property e.g. slamming doors. Your verbal expression of anger can include speaking more forcefully and quickly, with a raised tone.
Where does anger come from?
Anger is a basic human emotion. How angry you are, how you process your anger and how long anger persists after a experiencing a threat can vary between individuals. Your anger level is also influenced by a number of internal, social/cultural and situational variables.
Internal factors: Most studies consider anger to be a secondary emotion and a response to pain and fear. Thus it is generally believed that anger is learned rather than something you are born with. However, there is some evidence that pregnant mothers exposed to stress can affect the developing foetus’ own stress response system and influence the child’s own temperament. This would support the view that you can be born predisposed to certain emotions like anger, as if setting up a template of emotion. What you learn after birth will then reinforce this template.
Early developmental issues in the young child affect communication skills and can create a general disposition to be angry throughout your life. Being able to verbally express your anger in a calm way becomes a frustrating experience and is replaced by aggression.
Social/Cultural factors: Your emotional template is mainly developed from your parents and family culture. How your family deal with anger can teach you what is an appropriate way to express your own anger. This continuous transfer of anger culture would suggest that it can remain in families through generations.
Cultural factors can also affect gender differences with expressing anger within the family and in wider social groups. Stereotypically, men are encouraged to express their aggression to assert their masculinity particularly in youth culture, whereas women are discouraged from displaying their aggression to appear more feminine. Women tend to talk about their feeling of anger and stay angry for longer. Hormonal differences may explain some of these gender variations.
Situational factors: The specific situation can trigger different levels of anger in different people. Take for example being stuck in a traffic jam. The level of anger you experience can depend on
- The reason for the traffic jam
- The importance of the journey
- Your relationship with the other people at your destination
- Your ability to communicate to those people the reason for your delay
- The disposition and needs of your passengers etc.
But there are also wider issues that affect your handling of the situation. Consider your general emotional history with anger and with previous traffic jams. Then take into account irritations that day and those bigger stressful events that are affecting you. You can appreciate the complexity of these variables that may be dealt with calmly or with rage.
What affects the intensity of your anger?
When classifying anger, a scale of 1 to 10 is commonly applied to rate the degree of anger felt or expressed. At the lower levels there is irritation and aggravation, at the upper levels hostility, aggression and rage. Revenge (as a form of anger) can be used at all levels.
The intensity of your anger is dependent on the history, internal, external and situational factors:
- Your history of anger and history of the event
- Your general disposition and current stress levels
- Background cultural factors
- How much you rate the severity of the perceived threat
- The relationship with the perpetrator and their apparent intentions
- Your analysis of the circumstances surround the event
What can cause you to get angry?
Modern living rarely needs the primitive “fight or flight” anger response that our ancestors once used for survival. The threat of survival has evolved into the threat of losing one’s self-esteem.
How you define your esteem can mean different things to different people. But modern anger is usually stimulated when there is a perceived threat to:
- Your physical well-being – The aftermath of an attack can create a deep feeling of anger to get your revenge on your attacker and level the score.
- Your self-image and social status – This can be defined as how you see yourself and how you believe others see you. A nasty comment that defames you can cause anger particularly when it is untrue. It can have an impact on your reputation.
Anger is also common when a threat affects your social position. A negative life change like a demotion or redundancy at work can create anger particularly when you believed that you were performing well in your job.
- Your family – When your child is being bullied at school, anger can be a response to your own feeling of helplessness. Naturally, you would want to protect them from harm, but you are not able to be present in every situation.
- Your social group – A criticism given to the football team you support or pop group that you like can spark a verbal or physical argument. Youth culture is known for having a strong social group identity that links with one’s self image.
- Your property – Your possessions can act as extensions of your identity. The sentimental or monetary value of possessions often defines people. The modern car is an example of how some people like to present their image. Damage the car and you damage the owner’s ego.
- Your boundaries – You like to know the rules that govern what you can and can’t do. When you know where you stand in life, you feel safe even if you don’t agree with the rule in principal. When a change takes place, you can feel angry. A teenager who has a curfew set by their parents can feel angry about the rule change if it does not equate with his/her offence. “It’s not fair” is a common angered response.
- Your privileges – Losing something that helps you to feel special or that gives you some advantage can invoke an angered response. Cuts made in work organisations create “hot” air in the staffroom. The mistake that generates the anger may be caused by taking the privilege for granted in the first place.
The anger felt in the above situations can be stimulated prior to the event, during the event and for some time after the perceived threat has been dealt with. Some anger persists for years after an event. Long-term suppressed anger can act as a trigger for unexplained outbursts of emotion in the present. When you know that situations trigger your anger, you can avoid situations in the future as way of trying to cope.
Types of anger
Anger can take various forms. Some types are overt, but the more hidden forms of passive anger are not always recognised so easily.
- Behavioural anger: This type of anger is used to describe someone who is physically expressive with their anger regardless of the trigger. It includes acts of physical violence and abuse.
- Verbal anger: This type of anger is used to describe someone who is verbally expressive with their anger regardless of the trigger. When this anger is used maliciously, this type of person can be insulting and critical of others, destroying their self esteem. Facial and postural gestures accompany verbal anger.
- Persistent anger: This describes people who tend to be angry with life in general. There is no apparent trigger, just a continuous exhibition of anger. The expression can be verbal or behavioural, intense or mild. You know where you stand with this person.
- Explosive anger: This person would be defined as volatile. They can explode with rage for no apparent reason and then be calm. They are unpredictable and may choose innocent victims. Their anger can be verbal or behavioural.
- Critical anger: This verbal anger aims to judge and others and point out their mistakes. The comments make others feel ashamed and embarrassed about themselves or their abilities. Other people’s self-esteems are destroyed in an attempt to repair their own scarred self-esteem.
- Passive anger: This subversive form of anger uses sarcasm to hide suppressed anger e.g. saying “now what type of brain were you born with?” The angry person tries to disguise sarcasm by saying that the offended person is just being sensitive. Passive anger can also take the form of avoidance to get back at someone e.g. not attending an invitation to a party at the very last moment. Someone who favours passive anger likes to avoid confrontation. Or passive anger can be “expressed” by giving the silent treatment e.g. after a row with your partner. Saying nothing may be the better option than saying something that is offensive. But it is still an indication that you are angry.
- Distressed anger: This anger is a reaction to overwhelming distress in this person’s life. They are not coping with some of the bigger life changes like a new job or a break up in a relationship. They are constantly tense and lash out at people when any extra demands are placed upon them. The anger is a general reflection of high stress levels.
- Vindictive anger: This is probably the most common form of anger. The “injured” party seeks to get “even” after a perceived threat. It can take the form of direct “tit-for-tat” behaviour or by indirect forms of revenge where you withhold something that they may need.
- Self-directed anger: This form of anger accompanies self-blame, self-harm and low self-esteem. A person who uses this anger struggles to be assertive and handle situations confidently. They see view most situations as major conflict. So the only way to turn is inwards directing the anger at oneself. Examples of punishment include eating disorders and cutting oneself.
- Calculated Anger: When someone isn’t getting their way, they use anger as a way to over-power the other people in the situation. They may be defined as “control-freaks” who expect people to comply with their orders. When someone protests about their plans, it intensifies their anger.
- Suspicious anger: This person feels angry because they are jealous of others and are paranoid that other people will take what “belongs” to them. This jealous anger typically surfaces in relationships. The angry person has trust issues and tries to possess their partner. When their partner is seen innocently talking to other people, they are accused of flirting and face accusations of infidelity.
- Constructive anger: On a personal level, this type of anger is about being assertive. It considers the needs of all parties in the situation. Constructive anger emphasises communication and negotiation to resolve situations and reduce any future disharmony. On a group and organisational level, it aims to make positive change from situations, decisions or actions that have been mismanaged. Examples include the formation of movements, unions and associations.
Unresolved anger can create long-term health issues similar to high stress levels. It includes heart problems, hypertension, depression, anxiety, low immunity-related conditions like flu and IBS.
Treatment for anger using hypnotherapy
For many people, anger can seem like an internal eruption that is out of control. Any habitual response develops that way, particularly when you have been subjected to abusive anger as a child. Changing the way you express your anger can help protect your relationships, your career and your health. Hypnotherapy can help you deal with your anger at different levels. Hypnotherapy is more than just a way of relaxing.
There are a number of steps that can help you to change your expression of anger:
Understand the nature of your anger: There are very few situations where anger is just about anger. When it is related to the present situation, it is dealt with in a controlled manner. Most of the time, anger is a response to suppressed underlying issues that you are not ready to deal with or may not want to want to deal with. Your anger acts as a front to a deeper pain. Fear of rejection, worthlessness, embarrassment, shame, and jealousy are some of emotions that can fuel anger. These issues can relate back to childhood. Without understanding the background, your attempt to control it will seem as if you are swimming against the tide. When a small wave comes along, it’s enough to knock you back without the energy to control it.
There are many situations that can signal that your anger is about something else. One situation is when you struggle to admit that you are wrong and will aggressively defend your viewpoint. You fail to compromise because you fear that you will be judged as inadequate. When anger is your way of life this can also indicate that there is something else that is sustaining your anger.
Identify your anger warning signs and triggers: Deep-rooted negative beliefs and can act as catalysts to your anger. They can rapidly take you from being in control to out of control. When you over-generalise, you will consider one threatening situation to mean this happens to you all day, every day. The angry person exaggerates by saying “this always happens to me!”
Narrowing your internal choices by using modal verbs (have to, should, must) can also cause anger. You can probably recall situations when you have said “I’ve got to complete this by today.” You have then built up anger when you haven’t met these demands.
Anger can be triggered when you convince yourself about a negative event without getting all of the evidence. Typical situations include mis-reading an expression on somebody’s face and then thinking catastrophic consequences.
Who is responsible of your emotions? You are responsible. And when you take ownership of your emotions, you are in a better position to control and change them. But a blame culture has mistakenly encouraged placing the responsibility for your feelings on someone else. This can easily trigger your anger when you share this view. It’s a common phrase when people say that “you made me angry, it’s your fault!” Only they can reset your emotions when you feel angry or anything else. It’s a disempowering outlook to have in life and is likely to short-fuse your anger when someone else makes a mistake.
Some of these anger triggers can be physical stress responses that take you over your body. Feeling the tightness in your abdomen and chest, your heart racing and rapid breathing can transform a calm temperament into an angry one. By recognising some of these signs that your anger is building, you can take active steps to make changes before the anger escalates.
You may already know certain people, places or situations that can trigger your anger. But rather than blaming them, identifying how they affect you can help you choose how you interact. You may avoid certain topics of conversation with aggressive people because it generates anger. Avoidance can be a useful short-term fix for many situations, but it can help you manage your emotions during times of general stress.
Learn ways to keep calm: When you understand the nature of your anger and can identify the signs and triggers, you can then learn ways to deal with your anger before it hits the upper limits. There are certain methods that are helpful at in the heat of the moment. They include deep breathing exercises and developing the courage to walk away from the scene.
Anger that persists after the event can benefit by evaluating the importance of the situation and the way it is impacting on your emotions. What else can I do about the situation? Can I communicate my anger in a more constructive way? What outcome do I really want? These questions can help you divert your mind away from unnecessary aggression.
An ongoing situation that angers you requires constant anger and stress management. Breathing techniques and progressive relaxation can help reduce physical tension. Frequent exercise is another way of venting these symptoms.
Develop constructive ways to express your anger: When you recognise that your anger is worthy of the situation and that there is a way to resolve it, you can then direct your anger in a more constructive and assertive way. Focusing on the immediate situation prevents you from bringing up past irrelevant issues. It also minimises blame.
If the situation allows for you to reflect on it, walk away and explore all of the possibilities. Consider if there are any ways to create a win-win situation. This will help to preserve long-term relationships. The other person will be grateful that you are valuing their needs.
If you are particularly angry and intend to confront this situation head on, evaluate whether it is worth the emotional intensity. Being selective with your conflicts will help others note your seriousness rather than it being “yet another tantrum!”
By being selective, it can also help you to appreciate when it’s better to let something go. Courageously walking away from anger can be considered as a “win”, particularly when you have evaluated how much a situation can draw on your long-term resources.
When you have walked away from the situation, it can give you (and the other party) an opportunity to assess the value of the relationship. An apology can restore broken relationships when it is genuine. Forgiveness can then be considered where an on-going workable partnership is in both the party’s interests.
Hypnotherapy: When is professional help needed to treat your anger?
Hypnotherapy can be an effective way to treat your anger, although it is unlikely that you willseek hypnotherapy for occasional irritability. Some of the warning signs that your anger is out of control include:
· Anger is affecting your relationships. Aggressive (verbal and physical) behaviour canbe detrimental to close family relationships and friendships. Self esteems can be destroyed when you are taking out your frustration on people close to you. It can shatter the confidence and feeling of security of those who witness your anger.
· Anger is affecting your job
Competitive work situations and unnecessary change can create anger in your workplace. When you are an angry boss, it may scare your staff into completing their tasks, but it can harm relationships, affect job satisfaction cause unnecessary health issues.
· Your anger is creating constant physical tension
Suppressed anger or unresolved anger from long-term issues can cause insomnia, high blood pressure and depression. There are numerous other health issues that can develop when it left unchecked.
· Your anger is causing you to physically strike out at people.
Physical violence that stems from rage is a clear indicator that some professional help is required. It may help you from being arrested.
· You avoid too many situations because of your anger
Some tactical avoidance may help you to manage your anger in situations where there is a strong trigger. Avoiding too many situations in fear of an outburst however means that anger is still dominating your life.
How can Hypnotherapy help your anger?
Much of the anger that is expressed at a particular moment has an unconscious association. If it was conscious, you would control easily by yourself. Hypnotherapy can treat your anger in the following ways:
· Hypnotherapy can help you understand the nature of your anger
Hypnotherapy can be used to identify relevant past traumas that are surfacing when you are angry. By re-framing the emotion behind your past traumas, hypnotherapy allows you to be more focused on and in control of the current situation. You can then feel released to deal with the situation constructively and express your anger calmly. Suppressed criticism and feelings of worthlessness can be an example of a typical past trauma treated with hypnotherapy. With hypnotherapy, your mind can make the important link to what generates your anger.
· Hypnotherapy can help you identify your anger warning signs and triggers
Hypnotherapy can help you to identify your internal and external signs and triggers. Anger can seem like an “either or reaction”. One moment you are dealing with the situation and then the next moment you are boiling over with rage. When it happens unconsciously, trying to analyse it afterwards can seem a little too late. With hypnotherapy, the intense visualisation allows your mind to revisit the situations as if being there in slow motion. Depending on the hypnotherapy techniques used, the hypnotherapy consultation can ensure that you are detached enough to learn from the experience without feeling re-traumatised. Hypnotherapy can also employ symptom reversal techniques to alter the physical reactions that can generate your anger.
· Hypnotherapy can help you to stay calm
Hypnotherapy has the advantage over other therapies because the relaxation techniques are part of the hypnotherapy induction. When stress levels are high, you are generally more irritable and your potential to learn is inhibited. But more importantly, hypnotherapy can plant effective calming techniques into your anger ritual, positively disrupting the negative chain-reaction. Hypnotherapy also incorporates breathing techniques into the anger programme which is suggested by most anger management therapists.
· Hypnotherapy can help you develop constructive ways to express your anger
Hypnotherapy can help you to react more calmly and bring your anger under control. You can then learn to appreciate the demands of the situation and the people involved. Hypnotherapy can help you to walk away from the situation or help you to focus intensely on solutions for both parties. Being assertive ensures that the needs of each person are taken into account.
Use hypnotherapy as your preferred choice of treatment for your anger issues. Each hypnotherapy programme is individualised for your emotional and behavioural transformation. Benefit from hypnotherapy to treat your anger.