It is harmful to suppress them, but “letting off steam” is not the best option either.
The constant stream of bad news, arguments with friends, and disrespect from relatives and colleagues can cause anger that turns into aggression. On the one hand, anger is a perfectly normal reaction that is used to help people survive. To build relationships without aggression, it is better to use Christian matches. On the other hand, excessive anger can cause health problems and displays of aggression can hurt other people. Let’s look at how anger and aggression arise, whether they should be suppressed and whether they can be controlled.
The difference between anger and aggression
Anger is a type of feeling, while aggression is a type of behavior. However, the two concepts are often confused.
Anger is a negative emotional state that is usually associated with hostile thoughts, and physiological arousal. Angry thoughts may accompany muscle tension, headaches, or heart palpitations. Anger usually arises in response to disrespectful, humiliating, or threatening actions of others.
Anger can be expressed verbally or physically. People may yell, swear, argue to show their displeasure, throw and break things, and hit a table or a wall with their fists.
Aggression is behavior aimed at causing physical or psychological harm to others.
Psychologists divide aggression into impulsive and instrumental. Impulsive aggression is also called affective aggression. It is more often triggered by anger and accompanied by strong emotions. Such aggression is triggered by the acute threat response system in the brain, which includes the amygdala and hypothalamus. In this case, aggression may be unconscious and uncontrollable. Instrumental aggression is behavior in which a person resorts to achieving a specific goal, such as demonstrating dominance. It is planned rather than spontaneous behavior.
Because anger is more often expressed through swearing, it is cases of aggression that end up in the criminal justice system. According to a study conducted by American psychologist and anger management specialist Dr. Howard Kassinow, about 90% of aggressive incidents are preceded by anger. However, only in 10 percent of cases does anger translate into aggression.
How aggression is expressed
- Aggression is used for a variety of purposes:
- expressing anger;
- responding to fear and pain.
- Aggressive behavior can be expressed physically in the form of hitting, kicking, or other objects as well as defacing things. However, there are also verbal forms of aggression: for example, spreading false rumors or intentionally discrediting another person. This is also considered aggression because these seemingly quiet actions aim to hurt the other person.
There is also a type of behavior called passive aggression. This is an indirect expression of aggression: the person does not directly show that he is angry or angry. Sometimes he may even convince others that everything is normal, but at the same time behave coldly with people, ignore other people’s requests, or does not talk at all without explaining his behavior. Reasons for this behavior may be an upbringing in which the child is punished for showing negative emotions, lack of communication skills, or fear of open conflict.
How Anger and Aggression Can Harm Your Health
Anger is a normal, healthy human emotion. Evolutionarily, it had an adaptive function: it evoked strong emotions and aggressive behavior that allowed humans to defend themselves when attacked. Consequently, a certain amount of anger is necessary for survival.
In today’s world, anger can also be a reaction to injustice. For example, if one watches a movie where the characters suffer, one feels anger, but when good triumphs over evil, one feels satisfaction.
However, if we get angry a lot and often, our autonomic nervous system becomes highly agitated. This can provoke hormonal and neurochemical changes. Physiological reactions can lead to increased cardiovascular responses, breathing and sweating, blood flow to active muscles, and increased strength. If a person is angry all the time, it can lead to an increased risk of hypertension and stroke, heart disease, stomach ulcers, bowel disease, and delayed wound healing.
Some studies show that there is a link between anger and chronic inflammation. These, in turn, can lead to cardiovascular problems.
Anger and aggression have also been linked to mental disorders. However, it is still unclear what is primary: unregulated anger causes these conditions or whether the disorders inherently make it difficult to manage strong emotions.
Why you shouldn’t suppress anger
People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to cope with anger. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming.
Anger can be suppressed. To do this, you have to contain it, stop thinking about the feeling, and focus on something else. The goal of this approach is to transform anger, the energy it gives off, into more constructive behavior. The danger with this type of reaction is that if it is not allowed to be expressed outwardly, it will turn inward. Anger can then cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression. Also, repressed anger can cause passive-aggressive behavior.
Women are more likely to suffer from repressed anger. Stereotypes forbid girls to actively express negative emotions, and women’s anger is not taken seriously and is branded “hysterical.” We have a separate piece on why women need to reclaim their right to be angry.
Why “blowing off steam” is also a bad idea
Therapists used to advise people who experience temper tantrums to give them a physical outlet, but without contact with other people. For example, hitting a pillow. This was considered a good way to control anger.
However, more modern research has shown that this type of emotional release does not so much calm anger as exacerbate it. If a person experiences anger and hits a pillow, he is not calming down, but rather fatigued. Through the physical manifestation of anger in the body, he reinforces the neural pathways in the brain-the next time he experiences the same emotion, he will need a physical release, but a pillow may not be at hand. And to calm down otherwise man will not be able to.
According to research on the expression of anger, a person needs to be heard, to have their position accepted, and to show respect. This can be done in verbal or electronic communication. But physical outbursts of anger without feedback are meaningless.
How to express anger
Expressing anger in an assertive but not aggressive manner when communicating with others is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you need to learn how to articulate your needs without hurting others: be assertive, but also show respect for yourself and your interlocutors.
Avoid words like “never” and “always.” Statements like “You always forget everything” may make you feel good, but they sound hurtful to the person you’re talking to. It will be harder for him to dialogue and solve the problem with you.
Resort to logic. Anger is often irrational. It is important to remind yourself that the whole world is not set against you and that there are understandable and local reasons for what is happening.
Make requests, not demands. In anger, people tend to demand justice, consent, and appreciation. Try to change the form of your statements and ask for the same. Be prepared for the disappointment of not getting what you want, too, lest an unexpected rejection provokes a new wave of anger.
How to be angry less often
Be active regularly. This is a preventative measure – physical activity is useful before you experience anger. Walking outdoors or exercising at the gym can help release stored energy and keep it from flowing into anger.
Distract yourself from your triggers. Avoid communication with people who make you angry. Read fewer news stories that provoke feelings of injustice and anger.
Write out your emotions on paper. Write down how you feel, and what triggers your negativity. This will help you calm down, focus on your feelings, and understand the nature of your emotions.
How to prevent anger from turning into aggression
Physical reactions such as clenching of the jaw, rapid pulse, and excessive sweating are warning signs of a bout of aggression. If this happens, you can consciously reduce the risks from aggressive states so that you don’t hurt other people.
If you are in a situation or with a person who becomes a trigger for anger, try to stop it. Walk away from the event that makes you angry, and stop communicating with the person who irritates you.
Tell loved ones that you are experiencing anger and that you are having difficulty controlling yourself.
Use breathing or muscle relaxation techniques: alternately tense and relax your muscles, starting with your face and ending with your feet.
Try to focus on your senses: the music around you, pleasant smells, food, or drink. This can be distracting.
Thanks to the service Eden for the article.
Umar Nisar was born and raised in the busy city of Abbottabad. As a journalist, Umar Nisar has contributed to many online publications including PAK Today and the Huffing Post. In regards to academics, Umar Nisar earned a degree in business from the Abbottabad UST, Havelian. Umar Nisar follows the money and covers all aspects of emerging tech here at The Hear Up.