For instance, we might get a hug from a friend and we then respond to that experience by thinking we are happy and can also act the emotion out, that is showing we are happy by smiling and hugging our friend back. We have a lot of different emotions such as, happiness, sadness, fear, disgust and anger. When we look at each of these five, we know that these are five of the most common and basic emotions felt by all humans across different cultures. This was why Disney Pixar chose these characters for the movie inside out!
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Mild Anger Extreme Anger
We typically see mild as having a bad temper. Extreme may be physical or emotional violence towards others. Like all our emotions, anger plays an important role in our lives and for some can be seen as helpful even if sometimes they are unpleasant for us to feel. For instance, anger can sometimes help us to cope with stress and fear or, may even help us achieve our goals.
There is also a negative side to anger and this often expressed through violence. Violence is a behavior towards others that is physically or emotionally abusive. It is perfectly okay to feel anger, but it is never okay to be violent. This is an important point to understand. To learn more about the psychology of violence, you can try reading our PTW Magazine article on this topic here---> Link.
To help stop our anger from becoming violent, or harmful to ourselves or others it is important to learn how to deal with this emotion in a healthy way. So, how do we cope when we get angry?
Relaxation and breathing:
- Take a big, deep breath in through your nose,
- Hold this breath for two seconds
- Then, release this breath through your mouth
- Repeat this ten times
- Walk away from the situation that has made you angry and find a place that is quiet
- When you get in a negative mood state this helps to slow your heart rate down and reduce your blood pressure
You can talk to yourself positively, silently or out loud. Some good examples are
- “Easy does it. Don’t get so upset”
- This feeling will pass, just breathe
- Stay Calm and carry on
- Counting backwards from 100, silently or out loud
- Once our anger has passed it might be a good idea to go and speak to the person you became angry with, so you can stop this from happening again. Tell them exactly what made you angry in the first place and how this made you feel. Then try and come up with some solutions of what could be done differently if that problem comes up again.
Do you remember how I said before that we have five basic emotions; anger being one of them? Anger is a basic emotion and it is felt by everyone! There are many different factors for what makes us angry and how we become angry. Research however shows that there are some reasons behind why some people feel or act out anger more often than others. This can be explained by the interaction between parts of our genetics, mood, personality, culture, family and where we live. What psychology likes to call, “The Bio-Psycho-Social model”.
Is it in our biology?
Everyone has different genetic make-ups, levels of hormones, levels of neurotransmitters and even brain function. Biological research shows that, males tend to have more intense feelings of anger than females (but some females can experience more intense feelings than some males too). This may be explained by the differences between male and female hormones, as people with more of the hormone testosterone (which is typically higher in males), shows in research to have a strong connection with high levels of anger. People who are less than 40 years of age tend to show more anger than people in their 60’s.
Other biological factors to increase the likelihood of being violent having less of the neurotransmitter ‘serotonin’ (our happy neurotransmitter) and/or damaged frontal lobes which are the front parts of our brain.
The psychological part has to do with our personality. People with more of the personality traits that are dominating, demanding, confrontational and competitive tend to show more aggression than people who have these traits to a lesser degree.
Is it our environment and social groups?
Research shows that poor relationships with our parents and being exposed to violence in the media are strong contributing factors. Though, people may become angry because of the situation they are in. For example someone may become overly stressed in their life as they have just lost their job or, someone close to them has passed away. A stress that is felt continuously, for a long period of time and is out of someone’s control can be overwhelming and this is shown to be linked to becoming angry.
Thank you Jackline, Akansha, Shalu, Jyoti, Praveen and Diya for your questions! If you know a person who is becoming very angry or showing signs of violence towards others, it might be good to discuss this sensitively with your teacher at school or even your parents. The teachers or parents can then support the person and help them with the healthy and safe methods of managing anger that we have suggested above, and even support them in receiving support from a psychologist, mental health worker or counsellor. It is important to always be supportive of people and not judge them for being angry. Like we said, everyone experiences anger! The trick is to manage that anger in a positive and healthy way!
This article was prepared by PTW Volunteers Marie Mandicos, Mental Health Worker and Chirag Lodhia, PTW Director