The 4 Faces of Anger

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Angry eyes.
What is behind your angry feeling?
What’s the first thought that comes to mind when you hear the word “anger”? Frustration? Yelling? Loss of control? Maybe fear, silence or avoidance? All possible responses when rage rules.

One dictionary defines anger as “a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by real or supposed wrong”.

Medically speaking, anger is a state of heightened activation or arousal of the autonomic nervous system (eg: increased heart rate, rapid breathing, flushed face, chest pains, sweaty palms, etc) that is fueled by our conscious and unknowing interpretations.

No matter how it’s described, anger actually comprises a big range of feelings, from irritation and determination to outrage and fury.

Its depth or intensity often depends on how one looks at the world through his or her “4 Angry I’s”.

You experience those “4 angry I’s” when you have a strong sense of the following:

  • Injustice. A rule of conduct (eg: office or house rule), or a treasured belief or goal is being threatened or abused. You see yourself and also others with whom you are psychologically dependent or connected, as a victim of an injustice, unfairness or disloyalty.
  • Injury. You feel disrespected, discarded or ignored. There’s a sense of insult and humiliation along with injury – often psychological, at times, also physical (when the emotions affect one’s health).
  • Invasion. You perceive your freedom, autonomy, boundary and personal space as constricted, disrupted or violated. Your identity and bodily and/or psychological integrity are being threatened or attacked.
  • Intention.  There is an energy and determination to do something about the above injustices, injuries and invasions. You are ready unconsciously or purposefully — to act or react to the emotional turmoil.

We express anger in one of two ways – constructively or destructively.

In constructive anger expression, a firm, basically controlled tone of voice or volume, direct eye contact, a confident posture that’s neither aggressively forward nor robotically restrained, are all used.

In destructive anger expression, one becomes hostile – from using condescending comments, resorting to sarcasm and put-down humor and being highly judgmental to planning to get even when we feel slighted or injured.

– An edited excerpt from Mark Gorkin’s The Four Faces of Anger.

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