Why Do We Get Angry?

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How do you tell if you are angry? If you have a problem with anger, chances are you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.

Why are some people angrier than others? Some people really are more “hot-headed” than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does.

There are also those who do not show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people do not always curse and throw things; some times they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.

People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They cannot take things in stride, and they are particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.

What makes these people this way? A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological; there is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age.

Another may be socio-cultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we were taught that it is all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don not learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.

Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.

“Let It All Hang Out”?

Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a license to hurt others. Research has found that “letting it rip” with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you are angry with) to resolve the situation.

It is best to find out what it is that triggers your anger, and then to develop strategies to keep those triggers from tipping over the edge.

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