Although it's very unhealthy to do, the most common thing people do when they're hurt or angry is trying to hurt other people in return, either physically, verbally or emotionally, and not realizing by adopting such behavior will only cause more harm, more pain, and more suffering to them. Instead of trying to hurt other people because you're hurting, it's better to try to get to the bottom of it and resolve it once and for all. But first, what is anger? Anger is an emotional state associated with the desire to hurt someone when you feel he/she's been treating you unfairly or to drive him/her away. In fact, the American Psychological Association (APA) & Charles Spielberger, PhD. describe anger as "an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage." (APA, 2020). So since anger is associated with the desire to hurt other people, it can sometimes lead to aggressive and harmful behaviors.
Although the instinctive and natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively, however, extreme anger is not just harmful towards others, it is also harmful to the person feeling it because, just like any other emotion, anger is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. This means when a person gets angry to the extreme, not only his/her cardiovascular system is compromised (heart rate goes up and...), but so is his/her blood pressure, as do the levels of his/her energy hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline (APA, 2020).
It doesn't matter how sweet or rude a person can be, everybody expresses anger from time to time because it is instinctive and natural, anger is an adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. With that says, a small display of anger is necessary for our survival and it can improve our social interaction, but too much of it is harmful and toxic, and it pushes people away. So anger can either strengthen or destroy your social interaction. When it is used constructively, it lets people know your limits and demands and warns them not to cross the line. But if you're the type who lashes out at everybody for everything that irritates or annoys you, that's not healthy and such behavior is atypical (abnormal). Always know that whenever anger is not controlled, somebody is going to get hurt.
How to deal with Anger?
Whether it's done consciously or unconsciously, there are various ways people use to deal with anger. However, according to psychologist Charles Spielberger, PhD. who his specialty is to study anger, he summarizes the various ways people use to deal with anger in three main approaches, and they are; expressing it, suppressing it, and calming yourself down (Charles Spielberger, PhD., 2020).
Expressing It: Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive, not aggressive manner is one of the healthiest ways to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, what you like and what you don't like, without hurting others physically, verbally or emotionally.
Suppressing It: One can suppress his/her anger and then converting it or redirecting it to something constructive or positive. This can be done by holding your anger, stop thinking about what has made you angry, and then focus on something positive, something that can make you laugh. But here's the danger in this type of response; by not expressing your anger (frustration), your anger can turn against you, and when that happens it may trigger hypertension, anxiety, or even depression. Unexpressed anger can also cause a person to become very vindictive or having a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down for no valid reason, criticizing everything, only see the bad in people, and making cynical comments are often struggling with internal anger and can't figure out how to express it constructively. If you fall into that category you will find it very difficult to establish and keep successful relationships.
Calming Yourself Down: When you manage to calm yourself down internally, not only you control yourself, but so is the situation. Calming yourself down goes beyond controlling your outward behavior, it also means controlling your internal responses, taking conscious steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside (becomes less intense). Although it takes a lot of psychological balance to do, it is by far the best and the most effective way to deal with anger.
I'll finish with that story about a snake one night that was very hungry and was searching for food in a suburban area. it went to a restaurant after it was already closed for the night. While the snake was inside and in the process of searching for leftover food, it passed by a kitchen knife that was so sharp, it ended up having a little cut on its tail. The snake got so angry it has decided to roll itself around that kitchen knife in order to crush it to death. When the restaurant owner came in the morning, he found a dead snake inside the store because by trying to crush that knife to death, the snake ended up cutting itself into pieces and died. Nobody killed the snake, the snake killed itself.
That's what destructive anger does to you. Having the desire to hurt others because you're hurting will only bring you more harm, pain, and more suffering than the one (s) you're trying to hurt. If someone hurt you and you want to get back at him/her, don't do it in a passive-aggressive way, face him head-on and express your frustration and then put it to rest. Don't keep carrying a bag of pains and of painful stories or memories on your shoulder everywhere you go, it will stop you from growing and from being happy. Besides, that's how people become negative and toxic. No matter how long and difficult the process can be, do yourself the favor of forgiving, forgetting, and more importantly, of growing from it. In other words, let it go and move forward.
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