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10 Unexpected Facts About Anger That Will Impress You

10 Unexpected Facts About Anger That Will Impress You

The last line before Zack de la Rocha spits the words “freedom, yeah right freedom” in his song of the same name, is “Anger is a gift.” This line sticks in mind even after more than two decades, as does the rest of Rage Against The Machine’s self-titled debut, because of its power. The way in which the words are propelled by de la Rocha’s mouth says more than the meaning of the words.

But a gift? Anger wells in the pit of your stomach as a mixture of fear and frustration. We get angry at our children, our bosses and ourselves for different reasons. Some of the following facts about anger may surprise as well as impress you, but all told anger’s gift is one that can damage the body or soul of the angry host, so recognition and control of anger is the key to using the emotion effectively.

1. Anger is not inherently bad.

While anger pits in the stomach, the emotion itself is not inherently bad. Men, women and children experience anger differently. Whereas children most often feel anger from the perspective of frustration–they can’t have what they want when they want it–adults get angry when they feel out of control. Anger itself isn’t a bad or even a dangerous thing, but it always needs consideration. As with any emotion, understanding why it is felt is the first step to reaping its benefits.

2. Anger is an emotion with physiological effects.

We all understand the feeling of a rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and burning stomach as our muscles tighten and we feel anger. The “fight or flight” system engages as we decide how best to deal with our anger. According to an article in Psychology Today, expressing anger is always the best thing for you.  When anger feeds off itself, your release of anger causes you more damage. Be wary of the cycle that wreaks havoc on your nervous system.

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3. One benefit of anger is motivation.

When we feel that emotion that riles us up, we also feel motivated. At first, knowing how best to act is difficult, but in time the emotion of anger can drive us to create something innovated to solve a problem. While we can all relate to anger as a result of injustice or pain (like when a lover cheats or a boss promotes another worker), we don’t always realize that stress and taking on too much can cause angry outbursts. The body and mind sometimes work together to tell us we need to cut back at work or find more time to relax. Motivating ourselves to enjoy life more and stress less is one of the best benefits of anger.

4. Humor can diffuse anger.

Realizing that life is stressful is only the first step. Actually, the realization is more like lacing up the shoes than even taking that first step. The first step comes from the understanding that anger is an emotion that men and women feel differently, and anger does not have to control us. The simple act of laughing at anger can diffuse it.

In an argument, one person can defeat the mounting anger with a joke. I wouldn’t recommend a stand-up comedy act to diffuse a dangerous hostage situation, but when your coworkers can’t agree on a project, trying to diffuse the situation with office antics can help everyone get focused.

5. Uncontrolled anger and angry outbursts are linked to stroke and heart attack.

When you just can’t shake the anger and it feeds off itself for too long, you will either find yourself making yourself physically sick or your outburst can land you in jail. An article published by CNN shows a link between angry outbursts and increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise can exacerbate the effects of anger, putting you at an increased risk for cardiovascular events.

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6. People are not always the triggers of anger.

When our environment causes stress and frustration we experience anger, just as we experience anger with people who cause us stress and frustration. People are not always the trigger, unless they are the drivers on clogged highways contributing to road rage. Noise pollution, such as what one living in a construction zone would hear, triggers anger and sometimes we don’t even realize it.

If you find yourself getting angry and you’re not sure why, listen to your environment and recognize whether or not you get enough peace and quiet. Rushing around after kids or running from meeting to meeting in the corporate world can leave you stressed and angry. In this condition, you aren’t angry with anyone, but your environment is making you angry.

7. A plan for relaxation can combat anger.

In an attempt to benefit from anger, you should plan to relax on a regular basis. Along with eating well and exercising, planning time to relax by taking the kids to the park or enjoying a show with a friend can combat anger. We plan as much as we can for work, for our families and for our futures, but when we forget to plan to relax we give rise to anger.

8. When you feel the anger emotion, something needs examination.

Again, anger itself is not a bad thing. The motivating power of anger can act as an incentive to release pent-up aggression at the gym. When we first feel that anger, we need to examine it and understand its origin. What does the emotion mean? Are we distrustful of our partners? Does our body need to release tension and stress?

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Only by examining the underlying issues and significance of anger can we understand how best to act. Sometimes, screaming into a pillow, pummeling a cardboard cutout of a boss or writing a nasty letter we don’t intend to mail can help us express the anger in a healthy manner, but we won’t know until we know why we feel the anger.

9. Aggression is anger in action.

Feeling the anger, and choosing to take a deep breath or choosing to verbally assault a cheating lover is the difference between anger as an emotion and anger in action. Aggression is when we act on our anger, and aggression can land us in jail. Men often feel like showing anger in public or in the workplace is a sign of weakness. Hiding feelings of anger can cause outbursts at home in these situations. Accept when you feel angry and try to understand its root.

When anger must be released in a physical form, try mixed martial arts or boxing lessons to control the aggressive instinct. The benefit from anger in this scenario is that you can express your aggression and exercise at the same time. Sometimes, this physical exercise is what the body needed when the mind felt the anger emotion.

10. Anger teaches us about our ability to cope

We all experience anger from time to time, and even when we repeatedly feel frustrated and irritable our feelings may not indicate anything abnormal. Anger teaches us about our ability to cope because we can easily and objectively look at ourselves and answer a few questions. Am I feeling angry? Sometimes, we feel pressured or rushed and that leads to anger. Solving the underlying problem in this situation means planning and being more organized.

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When we realize that we are having a hard time managing anger, we might need to look more closely at how our lives are structured. While we can’t always knock off work and take a weekend trip to a quiet beach, we can work on the controlling biggest stressors in our lives. When we find we can no longer control our emotions, cope effectively or express aggression, we need to consider anger management.  Sometimes, anger is a gift we’d best return.

Featured photo credit: morguefile via Morguefile

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Ellen Eldridge

Ellen is a passionate journalist. She shares her everyday life tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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