Everyone gets angry.
Anger is a normal, healthy emotion, but when chronic, explosive anger spirals out of control, it can have serious consequences for your relationships, health, and state of mind.
It’s perfectly healthy and normal to feel angry when you’ve been mistreated or wronged. The feeling of being angry isn’t the problem. It’s your reaction that matters. Anger becomes a problem when it harms you or others.
When you get angry, you might think that venting your anger is healthy, people around you are too sensitive, your anger is justified, or that anger is a sign of strength. But the truth is that unchecked anger can be highly damaging for your life, especially when it turns into ruminating thoughts of revenge and hatred.
Common consequences of chronic anger:
It can hurt you physically: Chronic anger makes you more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, a weakened immune system, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
It can hurt your mental health: Chronic anger consumes huge amounts of mental energy and clouds thinking, making it harder to concentrate, see the bigger picture, and enjoy life. It can also lead to stress, depression, and other mental health problems.
It can damage your career: Constructive criticism, creative differences, and heated debate can be healthy. But lashing out will alienate your colleagues, supervisors and clients. What’s more, a bad reputation can follow you wherever you go, making it harder and harder to get ahead.
It hurts your relationships. Chronic anger causes lasting scars, and gets in the way of your friendships and intimate relationships. It can make it hard for others to trust you, speak honestly, or feel comfortable around you, since they never know what’s going to set you off. Explosive anger is especially damaging to children.
Anger is often a cover up.
If your knee-jerk reaction to many situations is to get angry, it’s very likely your temper is covering up deeper feelings and needs. This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing emotions was discouraged.
Common signs that anger could be a sign of something more:
You won’t compromise. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got their way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control, never letting your guard down? Or maybe you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame don’t apply to you? Everyone has those emotions. If you think you don’t have them, you may be using anger to cover them up.
You view different opinions as a personal challenge. Do you believe your way is always right and get angry when people disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may see other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of seeing the world.