Even though we usually think of anger as a bad thing, it can actually be really helpful when it comes to dealing with threats.
Did you know that feeling angry is actually a natural response to something that we perceive as threatening? It’s true! In fact, anger can even be helpful for your survival.
When you perceive something as threatening, your amygdala is activated and can trigger feelings of anger. This activates a chain reaction of physiological responses throughout your entire brain. Such responses include an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, tense muscles, and the release of adrenaline.
These are all part of your body’s fight or flight response, as it prepares for action to protect your survival. Your body unconsciously goes through these responses as you quickly assess the potential threats.
When our ancestors were hunter gatherers and during times of war, this instinct served us really well. Even today, you still need this important biological process to work for you when you face real threats to your survival. However, this automatic biological process doesn’t differentiate between real threats and the things you perceive as threats because of your beliefs and past experiences.
There may have been a time in your past when you felt threatened. However, most of the time, when you have the opportunity to address your anger, that threat no longer exists. It’s important to take a step back and evaluate whether the perceived threat is real or not. Ask yourself if you are in immediate danger, or if the situation is simply triggering past traumas or beliefs.
Recognizing when a perceived threat is not actually a threat can help you manage your anger in healthier ways and avoid unnecessary stress and tension in your body. If you hold onto anger from past threats that are no longer relevant, your amygdala can still be triggered, causing you to experience the same physiological response as if the threat were still present. This can lead to a chronic state of stress, which can negatively affect your physical and mental health.
Remember, your body’s fight or flight response is a natural reaction to perceived threats, but it’s up to you to determine whether the threat is real or not. By learning to identify and manage your anger in a healthy way, you can reduce its negative impact on your life and improve your overall well-being.
Common Triggers of Anger and How to Address Them
Anger is a complex emotion that can manifest in various ways, ranging from mild irritation to intense rage. There are several ways to understand the root cause of your anger.
For example, when something doesn’t meet our needs or desires, we often feel frustrated. An unmet need causes frustration. Since your needs are essential for survival, not having them met can feel threatening. Although it may seem like acting out in anger is an effective way to get your needs met, it’s usually not the best strategy.
At times, when we feel helpless, it’s easy to get angry and feel like there’s nothing we can do about a situation. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to see all the available options.
1. The first thing you can do is step back from the situation and try to detach from those intense feelings of anger.
2. Next, you can set a timer for 5 minutes and write down all your options – even the ones that might seem impossible or nonsensical. Write down anything that comes to mind. You might be surprised at what you can come up with!
3. Finally, confusion can also trigger feelings of anger when you don’t understand something. Similar to feeling helpless, it’s best to detach yourself from the source of confusion. This often means taking a break from the problem.
Remember that it’s natural to feel self-judgment in these situations, so it’s important to recognize when you’re being hard on yourself and to be willing to ask for help when needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to someone you trust for support.
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