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The Heavy Costs of Anger

Angry man seeking anger management techniques

At one time or another, everyone experiences needless anger.  Here are some specific signals that will tell you when anger is creating problems for you.

  • When it is too frequent. There are many situations for which becoming angry is justified and natural.  However, we often get angry when it is not necessary or useful.  It is important to distinguish between the times when it is all right to be angry and when getting angry isn’t a wise idea.
  • Anger is something that occurs at different levels of intensity.  A small or moderate amount of anger can often work to your advantage.  However, high degrees of anger rarely produce positive results. 
  • When it lasts too long, when anger continues over time, you maintain a level of arousal or stress that goes beyond normal limits.  When anger does not go away, your body’s systems are prevented from returning to normal levels, which makes it easier to get angry the next time something goes wrong.  
  • When it leads to aggression, things can escalate exponentially.  Aggressive acts are likely to result in trouble for you.  When you feel you have been abused or treated unfairly, you may want to hurt the person who has offended you. Verbal aggression, like calling someone a name, is not helpful and often leads to overtly aggressive behavior. 
  • When perpetual anger go unabated, it destroys work or personal relationships.
  • When your anger interferes with doing a good job or makes it hard for people to relate to you, then it becomes a serious problem.  Why should you and those you care about work to control your outbursts of anger or rage?  Clearly, there are some important reasons why you may determine that it is in your best interest and those around you. 
  • Damage to personal relationships is one of the most common costs of anger, and probably the worst.  The relationships that are damaged are often the ones you least want to lose.  The most frequent targets of anger include spouses, children, co-workers, and friends.
  • Often, actions taken under intense anger are regretted after the damage is done.  Think about your life.  Has your anger undermined any important relationships?  Do you tend to blame people for how you are feeling? If you continue this pattern, where will you be a few years from now? Letting go of your anger and being more accepting and flexible in close relationships will probably serve you better both long-term and short-term.  
  • Anger destroys work relationships and can be very frustrating.  Demanding supervisors, jealous co-workers, irate customers, deadlines, and unfairness of all sorts; these can test your patience.  Your anger about frustrations, however, can frustrate you even more.  Anger can ruin work relationships and limit your success.  It can also block your ability to focus on important issues and perform quality work.  
  • Anger makes bad situations worse, however many of my clients feel that getting mad helps them face difficult situations.  Won’t it help you to feel empowered and in control when confronted with adversity?  Isn’t expressing your anger necessary for asserting yourself and getting your point across?  These are all good questions. 

Psychological research has not yet shown whether anger increases or decreases your effectiveness in handling difficulties.  However, many people have jumped to the conclusion that you must feel angry when facing unfair situations.  

My proprietary model teaches that anger has the capacity to cloud people’s ability to reason and behave effectively.  You are not likely to think clearly when you are angry.  While anger may help in some situations, it is rarely helpful in making positive change or solving conflicts.

Although anger is a normal human emotion, it is hardly the most useful for solving problems.  Think about it and decide for yourself whether rage is helpful or harmful for you.

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