Anger is an Inside Job

Getting angry is often a natural almost instinctive reaction. Something happens or someone does something that seems to immediately cause us to go into a “fight or flight” mode and our anger takes over. However that is not what really happens. There are specific physical signs, as well as specific thought patterns that often precede actually getting angry. If we can identify the associated physical signs, as well as the underlying thought patterns, perhaps we can take some steps to control it before it takes control of us.

What does it feel like to become angry?

Here are some common physical indications often associated with anger

  • Knots in your stomach

  • Clenching of our hands or jaw

  • Feeling Clammy or Flushed

  • Rapid breathing

  • Headache

  • Pacing or needing to walk around

  • Pounding Heart

  • Tensing neck & shoulders

Although we may think that the cause of our anger is external, such as other peoples actions or frustrating situations. The reality is that anger problems have less to do with what happens to us than how we interpret what has happened. Negative thought patterns are often the fuel that ignites anger

What are some negative thought patterns that are associated with Anger?

Here are some common thought patterns that often lead to anger.

  • Overgeneralizing: Using terms like “you Always interrupt” or “you Never let me speak”

  • Obsessing on “should have” and “ought to”

  • Jumping to conclusions: assuming you know what the other person is thinking or feeling

  • Keeping score: looking for negative situations and letting them build up till you explode

  • Blaming others Rather than taking responsibility for your own actions

Stressful events do not have to lead to angry reactions. Understanding how these events affect you can be very helpful in controlling your reactions. As we recognize specific situations that trigger angry reactions, and identify the physical symptoms and underlying negative thought patterns, we are in a better position to control the outcome.

How do you do that?

Take an inventory of some recent situations that have caused you to have an angry reaction. Think about what you were thinking. What were you feeling? Did you notice any physical signs leading up to the point of anger? How did you react? What could you have done to avoid getting angry? What can you do beforehand that can help you better respond to a similar situation in the future?

By taking the time to think through these scenarios ahead of time, you are more likely to be able to control your anger before it controls you.