We face many situations in life that can and do evoke a response of anger. When you’re running late for an important meeting, it’s easy to signs of anger issues at your fellow motorists or your children who were a bit slow getting up that morning.
In the wake of a heart-wrenching break-up, you might feel a wave of emotions, from shock, despair, to anger at your former beloved. If we’ve lost a loved one, it’s common to feel anger, either at ourselves, our loved one, or the circumstances that took them away from us. In these and many other circumstances, anger is to be expected and is natural.
Of all our emotions, anger is one of the most powerful. It can galvanize us toward taking action if we’ve experienced injustice, and it can spur us on toward cruel words and deeds to get even when someone hurts or frustrates us in some way.
Anger can incite a person to start a non-profit to address urban hunger or human trafficking, but it can also lead a person to physically harm or verbally assault another human being. It’s not merely the kind of things – good or bad – that we are capable of and that we commit from anger, but also what is driving it.
While anger can be leveraged for good, and it can be controlled to prevent harm to other people, it can also be destructive to persons and property. How can you tell if your relationship with anger may be problematic and potential intervention is required? Below are five key signs that you or a loved one may have anger issues, along with a few suggestions for how to address these issues.
Five key signs of anger issues.
1. Damaged relationships.
If you look at your life, whether in the short or long term, you can see the tell-tale signs of problematic anger. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins.” Unfortunately, one of the things that anger does is short-circuit our ability to make wise choices.
When triggered, anger can color people’s perceptions, guide their behavior while they remain angry, and shape their decisions, regardless of whether the decisions they’re making are related to the source of their anger. It’s common for a person to be angry at their colleague and yet take it out on their spouse or children.
Anger lowers a person’s ability to make strategic decisions, and so many things we might say or do while we’re angry are things we would immediately recognize as flawed or unwise when we’re sober-minded.
If your relationships are damaged, whether significantly or irreparably, because of things you have said or done when you were feeling angry, that might be a sign that you struggle with anger issues. If you find that you carry many regrets in your relationships because of your actions while feeling angry, it might be one of the signs of anger issues.
2. You struggle to control yourself when you’re feeling angry.
While anger is a powerful emotion, it’s not an uncontrollable one. One of the more easily recognizable comic book superheroes is the Hulk, a green monster with uncontrollable rage and whose strength grows the angrier he gets. If you let it, your anger it can feed upon itself and grow uncontrollable.
However, when most people feel angry about a situation, they usually find ways to deal with it constructively, whether by going for a run, or doing a few rounds with a punching bag, or just walking away from the situation for a moment.
If you find that you struggle to control yourself when you are angry, and you can’t control what comes out of your mouth or you struggle to refrain from violence when you’re feeling angry, it is a strong sign that you may have anger issues. All of our emotions are under our control, but if you find that your anger seems to have a life of its own, that is problematic, and you may need to find help to get it under control.
One of the things about anger is that like other emotions, it needs to be expressed constructively. Bottling up your anger is not a healthy way to deal with it, nor is letting explosive anger erupt toward another person. If you can’t express your anger without threatening the other person or harming them in some way. then it may be one of the of anger issues.
3. You’ve hurt others or yourself when acting out in anger.
In line with the idea of struggling to control yourself when angry, another sign of anger issues is if other people (including you) have been hurt, or property has been damaged because of how you reacted when feeling angry. This includes passive-aggressive behavior which is directed towards others or yourself.
While some may think that being passive-aggressive is mostly harmless, it is another instance of the inability to express anger constructively, whether it’s whispering under your breath, giving the silent treatment, making sarcastic comments, or directing your anger at yourself by calling yourself names (like “stupid,” “idiot” and so on), hitting yourself, or pulling your own hair.
Harm can occur in many ways, and passive-aggressive behavior can be one such example. Other ways that others can be hurt is by expressing anger in inappropriate ways such as screaming, shouting, or cursing at them, or throwing objects, and smashing your fists into a wall.
4. You get angry easily.
Anger is an emotion that can be triggered by various situations and experiences. It has a specific physiological impact, and we know when we are feeling angry. As you become angry, your muscles tense up, and neurotransmitter chemicals known as catecholamines are released causing you to experience a burst of energy that can last up to a few minutes.
This surge of energy lies behind the common angry desire to take immediate action to remedy a situation. There is a difference between feeling angry and getting a bit annoyed or irritated with someone, and in part, it has to do with the intensity of the feeling and what it does to your body.
One possible sign of anger issues is that you get angry easily at the slightest provocation. If it doesn’t take much to get you feeling angry, and you go from being calm to potentially explosively angry in an instant, you may have anger issues.
5. You are angry most of the time.
Lastly, another sign that you may have anger issues is that you are angry most of the time. It might be that you’ve struggled with anger for most of your life, or perhaps you can recall a specific moment or situation that marked the beginning of your struggle with anger. Whatever the case may be, if anger is the predominant emotion that colors your life, then you have anger issues.
Our lives are meant to be marked by a deep and broad palette of emotions, from joy, sadness, fear, and so on, so for a person’s life to be dominated by one emotion is not healthy. The provocation to anger is ever-present but that just signals the need to build up one’s ability to cope with anger-inducing circumstances and find a healthy outlet for their anger.
Anger issues are caused by a variety of things, including having low impulse control due to certain medications or alcohol. Anger may also be a symptom of other mental health challenges such as depression in men, or conditions such as bipolar disorder.
To ascertain the cause of your anger issues, your doctor or mental health professional will do a full assessment that takes these different factors into account to arrive at a proper diagnosis. Your life does not need to be dominated by anger; you can bring that powerful emotion under control. If anger has a hold of you, reach out to an anger management therapist or doctor to explore your options and get your life where you’d want it to be.
“Stressed”, Courtesy of Engin Akyurt, Unsplash.com, Unsplash+ License; “Irritation”, courtesy of Ospan Ali, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stressed”, Courtesy of Elisa Ventur, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Rage”, Courtesy of Sander Sammy, Unsplash.com, CC0 License