While in very severe cases of anger this is the case and would definitely require anger management – what I like to define as ‘aggressive anger’, there are other cases that require equally robust anger management but where the signs of anger are not so obvious. It may be the case that we have anger that is ‘simmering under the surface’ sometimes for a long period of time – what I call ‘passive anger’. While this may not reveal itself as full blown rage, it can have an equally detrimental impact on our life – maybe even more-so than aggressive anger as this type of deep-rooted passive anger does not seem to have a release-valve.
It is all well and good discussing what anger management involves, why it is useful and other aspects of anger management and anger more generally -something I have discussed in other articles and will do so in forthcoming ones- but unless we realise we have an anger problem in the first place, it is simply pointless talking about effective treatments. After all, unless we know that we have a problem, we cannot go to the next step of addressing this.
With this in mind, the rest of the article will focus on reading the signs of anger for both ‘aggressive’ and ‘passive’ anger. Some of these may sounds pretty obvious but are important to note all the same.
ANGRY OUTBURSTS, SHOUTING, PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AND AGGRESSION – This is the easiest identifier of anger for obvious reasons. As discussed above, this is the classic type of anger – that is easy to define and easy to know when we are experiencing it. As displayed in many soap operas, films and so forth; this aggressive anger can build-up over a long period of time as ‘passive anger’ or simply arise without this. Whatever the cause, this anger expresses itself in the form of vocal shouting, physical violence from throwing objects across a room to violence towards another person. This can have disastrous effects on our life. If this happens at work it could lead to disciplinary action or socially lead to loss of friendships. In the form of domestic violence or assault towards another person, it can lead to a criminal conviction and the consequences that arise from this.
FEELING STRESSED AND IRRITABLE – Stress is probably one of the most common causes of anger and in turn, anger (especially when it is passive) can cause further stress. This vicious cycle can have consequences for us, our friends, family and colleagues. When feeling this build-up of anger it is a good idea to seek anger management. Contrary to popular belief, the time for anger management is not after a violent outburst or indeed, anger does not need to surface as aggression to be classified as anger. Feeling this build up of anger -whether this has been for a few days, weeks, months or even years- is a sign that we are experiencing an anger problem, with the likelihood being that the longer we leave it unaddressed, the worse the anger and consequences of this anger may become and the harder it will be to rid ourselves of it.
FEELING ANNOYED AT EVERY LITTLE THING – Again, whether this comes across as shouting and ranting or is a build-up of annoyance inside our own minds, the fact of the matter is that we are becoming angry. Certain small amounts of anger and frustration are actually good for us and are healthy emotions in our day-to-day lives. The problems begin when this becomes more prolonged and deep rooted, causing us great annoyance at regular intervals and at situations that should not. If we feel we are becoming overly annoyed and are being annoyed by things that did not annoy us in the past -or annoy us to the same degree- this is a sign of increasing anger building and should be addressed as soon as possible. Not only do we stand the chance of damaging our health in this situation but the suppressed anger may build-up to such an extent where it is released as physical aggression.
TENSION WITHIN A RELATIONSHIP – Our personal relationships in many ways are the bellwethers of our health and well-being (and that of the other partner of course). As such, when we are experiencing problems -especially stress and anger- it can have an effect on our relationship. We may as an individual become more agitated, annoyed over small things or not as talkative as usual. This can have a dramatic and negative effect upon our relationship – even more-so if the anger comes across as shouting and especially so for physical aggression. If we feel that our anger is having a negative effect on our relationship then anger management is definitely necessary and could help you save your relationship if the problem has got to a serious stage.
LACK OF CONCENTRATION – Anger -even if it is not the aggressive type- takes up a great deal of energy and memory. While we are thinking about being angry over something, all of this energy and brain power is channelled into the angry thoughts and away from other constructive things we could be doing. After speaking to a great many clients over the years, it is often the case that when something is troubling us, these thoughts can enter our mind at any time no-matter what we are doing. We may be thinking about something completely different to what makes us angry but without warning the angry thought can enter our head. Again, without too much explanation here, these can distract us from other things, especially those activities where we need full concentration such as work. Not only can this lead to a lack of concentration and the negative effects that can arise from this, but also when these thoughts do arise, they can often not only cause the anger to get worse -causing more of these thoughts- but also can lead to aggressive anger in some circumstances.