Feeling angry is normal. It’s hardwired into us. It’s a natural reaction to a perceived threat.
The threat could be to ourselves, someone we love, our property, or our sense of identity.
You definitely know anger when you feel it. It sometimes shows up in more subtle feelings like irritation, indignation, or frustration.
On the high end of the anger intensity scale, you feel rage and furor — the times when you find yourself screaming like a banshee, slamming doors, or even throwing a punch. This is explosive anger generally leads to regret.
There are triggering events that lead to our anger, but it’s our perceptions of a situation often provoke angry feelings. Someone cuts us off in traffic. Our spouse says something we find offensive. Our boss gives the promotion to your less-than-capable co-worker.
In our anger (and sometimes even when we’re calm), we believe the triggering event “makes” us feel angry. But if that were true, everyone would feel angry over the exact same situations. What makes one person livid with rage doesn’t necessarily bother another person. There are mitigating factors.
These factors can include your personality — competitive, narcissistic, Type A personalities for example are more prone to anger. Also your state of mind prior to the triggering event can tip the scales from irritation to red-faced rage.
If you’re tired, already irritated about something, or anxious, you’ll respond more readily with anger to the triggering event. Of course your appraisal of the anger-provoking situation has a profound impact on how you react.
Feeling angry isn’t bad. Quite often anger is justified and necessary. You can use it to stand up for yourself, right a wrong, and take action for positive change.
However, mismanaged anger — whether you shove it down or let it rip — can be detrimental to your health, your relationships, and your ability to be successful in your career. You need to know skills for managing anger so you don’t push away friends, lose your job, or wind up in divorce court.