WHY AM I SO ANGRY?
By Reydon Stanford
Anger can be a deadly emotion. A
person living with unresolved anger can experience great mental pain, resulting in long-term unhappiness, deep depression,
enormous stress and even a shortened life span. It can undermine relationships, make us a social outcast, and leave
us feeling alone and with little joy or hope in our lives. Continued, long-term anger can cause stress levels to remain
so intensely high, that it can even result in physical illnesses, some which could ultimately lead to an early death.
While almost every emotion a human experiences can cause great pain at some point, I personally
believe that none are as counter-productive and painful as extended anger. An angry person can live a life of compulsion,
reacting on a whim, to any event they perceive as personally against them. They can built thick walls around themselves,
guarded day and night and ready in an instant to "blow their top" at the first sign of a perceived injustices. These
actions can obviously leave them feeling lonely and alienated as society tends to distance themselves from the ongoing angry
Although anger is a common part of the human experience...for
some people, it can become a reoccurring nightmare of misery and deep-seeded pain. In fact, I believe that many people
are addicted to anger...using it as a means of manipulation, vengeance and control over others...even though they'd deny it
or might not even realize they are doing it.
The bottom line is that anger is a
painful emotion that can not only destroy it's victim...but can leave a mass of casualties from everyone who strays onto it's
When anger goes unchecked, it can destroy self-esteem,
wreck careers, ruin relationships and bring years of extended loneliness and great unhappiness.
1. WHY AM I SO ANGRY?
As I said, anger is a very common human emotion. Impatience, aggravation, frustration,
and misery are it's constant companions. Picture someone sitting at a red light in traffic. Let's say they are
sitting five or six cars back and the lead car is experiencing mechanical problems, which means the line is simply not moving.
Suddenly, this person begins to feel angry that they are being "kept" from moving forward by the actions of
others. Their anger grows with each passing minute until they are verbally shouting at the other drivers and may even
resort to honking their horn. Most of us have been in this situation and it becomes a very uncomfortable emotion. In
extreme cases, some let their anger become so "uncontrolled," that they resort to violence known as "Road Rage."
Ultimately, however, it causes that person to appear to others as very immature and silly. In cases of road rage,
it can quickly make the angry person a criminal with dire consequences. All because the anger was not controlled.
So why are some people so angry? Anger, put simply is our emotional response to certain
life situations that we perceive to be unfair, intentional or somehow personally abusive to us. This can range from
minor irritations, (such as someone passing by without speaking), to rage where the angered person desires revenge and harm
to come to the person or persons they believed have wronged them. However, what most chronically angry people do not
realize, is that these emotions are counter productive to solving the problem, most times...making it extremely worse. The
result can be a life that feels totally unhappy and miserable.
2. ANGER IN CHILDHOOD
Anyone who is a parent has most likely experienced a moment when their child experiences an emotional breakdown
due to "not getting their way." We call these events a "Temper Tantrum." When I was a child,
these events would quickly be met with correction from my mother. She would either paddle our behind or force us to
lie down for a nap. It didn't take long for us to realize that such emotional outbursts would not be tolerated and the
punishment was much worse than not getting our way. It also caused us to learn to deal with our emotional turmoil in
a more positive way.
However, in today's society many parents do
not believe in spanking their children and I respect that decision on their part. Still, some parents 'give into the
tantrum' and instead of punishing the child with a "time out" or any other such correction...actually begin giving
into the child in order to restore calm. What the parent doesn't realize is they are teaching the child that the angry
outburst is an acceptable way to get their own way. These children can quickly become 'experts of manipulation,' and
will use their anger when needed. At that point the child is leading the household. What's even more dangerous
is this behavior will quickly spread outside of the home. When the child's in a store and wants a toy or candy and doesn't
get their way...a public display of anger will ensue, embarrassing the parent. It can also extend into school, with
playmates, all the way through into their adult life, where by this point they have no learned ability to cope with their
anger and it can become disastrous to them socially and emotionally. It can hamper their ability to get or keep a job,
hamper their ability to find a healthy relationship and even make them a social outcast. Let's face it. Nobody
wants to be around someone who is angry all the time with a quick temper and a short fuse. It simply becomes to uncomfortable
to those around it.
3. THE VICTIM MENTALITY AND IT'S LINK
TO CHRONIC ANGER
face it...we are all human and humans hurt other humans. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not intentionally. One
of the emotions that is stirred when we are hurt is anger. In fact, anger is a common response to hurt. While
anger can be used as a way to confront the hurt and seek relief, there is a fine line that can be crossed where anger is not
used to confront and heal the situation, but is used as a way to seek revenge and return the pain to others. This of
course will only cause the situation to grow worse as people most often respond to anger by becoming defensive, rather than
trying to bring healing.
Again, anger is a natural response to pain,
but allowing that anger to become destructive to oneself or others is dangerous and counter-productive to solving any problems.
Again...it only makes them worse and the pain last longer.
some cases, a person is suffering from a victim mentality where they believe that everyone and everything is out to get them.
They often believe that any act that is not in their favor was intentionally caused to bring them pain. Most times
there is NO CLEAR EVIDENCE that such events are taking place, but the person fully accepts them as fact and their anger only
increases. Over long periods such anger can lead to severe depression, a distancing of social interaction and emotional
4. NEVER EVER...EVER...EVER...LET OTHERS CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS
I will forever
be indebted to a dear friend by the name of Dr. Harry Gray who taught me so much about human behavior and psychology. One
of the most important things he ever said to me was, "Reydon, don't ever let SOMEONE ELSE control YOUR emotions!"
He went on to explain..."If I say to you, 'Reydon you're making me mad,' then what I'm really saying is 'Reydon
YOU control MY emotions,' which essentially gives you all power over me."
you see how brilliant that is? When we allow others to control our emotions we become a puppet, moved by whatever a
person says or does...or doesn't do. We have essentially given control of our happiness over to others. The same
is true of circumstances. If we allow every circumstance to control our emotions...we will never know peace and we will
never know happiness. We simply cannot control others nor certain circumstances. What we CAN CONTROL is how we
respond to them. How we respond to them will determine whether we end up feeling at peace...or consumed with long-lasting
5. ANGER AND UNMET EXPECTATIONS
Another great instigator of anger is unmet expectations. Let's say you plan a party for New Year's Eve,
only to find out that most of the people you planned to invite had already made other plans. You had planned and worked
and envisioned a big party full of fun, laughter, and people patting you on the back for such a job well done...only to have
that dream shattered. How do you respond? While it would be easy to respond angrily with quotes like: "I
don't know why I try so hard for these people, they don't even care!" Or..."They don't really have other plans,
they just didn't want to tell me...so they obviously lied!" Wouldn't it be more accurate to stop and think for
a moment..."Maybe I let my expectations exceed reality. I shouldn't have expected so much without finding out first
whether or not such a party was feasible." The difference is a short bout of hurt and anger, versus an extended
bout of these uncomfortable emotions.
Let's say a father of a teenage son
was a gifted baseball player and won countless awards and championships. He can't wait for his son to take the field
for the first time so that he can relive some of his own "glory days" through his son. Sadly, his son is not
gifted in baseball and misses every catch, swings but misses every pitch. Suddenly, the father is shouting at his son,
angry and disappointed. The son's self esteem is shattered and the relationship is damaged. Who is at fault here?
Of course...it is the father who had expectations that were not met and he therefore became angry, lashing out at an
We humans often envision how we want something to go,
only to be disappointed. Now I ask you honestly...is that our own fault or the fault of others? Truly, we cannot
expect all of our dreams and visions to work out as we had hoped or planned. Disappointment is a part of our lives.
However, how we respond to our disappointments is within our power...in the right here and right now. We can accept
what has happened and learn from it, or we can remain angry and unhappy. That choice is ours and ours alone. Happiness
is our own choice as a state of mind and we cannot blame others for "making us unhappy." The ability of the
human spirit to rise above situations or unmet expectations is enormous. Many people who have faced horrible abuse and
circumstances in their lives have risen to find joy, forgiveness and peace, in spite of it all.
6. WHEN ANGER TURNS TO BITTERNESS
some foods have remained in a state of decay too long, they turn bitter. When people remain in a state of anger too
long, they also turn bitter. Bitter food is rejected and oftentimes, bitter people become rejected as well, only adding
to the immense pain they are already feeling as a result of the anger.
put...bitterness is unresolved anger. Anything left unresolved is left to rot rather than get well. Bitterness
is a horribly dark place for any human to live. The beautiful thing is that no one has to remain bitter, there is hope
for moving from bitterness toward healing. Words like forgiveness, (both of self and others), acceptance and thankfulness
are powerful for a reason...they work.
7. LETTING GO OF THE ANGER
Yes, it's that simple. Anger is an emotion we are HANGING ON TO. Therefore, letting
go of it is the answer. If someone (or many someone's) have hurt you. Forgive them. Let them off the hook.
Open your heart and hands and let your anger go. Choose to feel better about your life by not holding onto anything
that is making your life, your mind and your heart miserable.
often heard people say, "I just can't forgive them for what they did to me, and if I do, they have gotten away with it."
The problem with this statement is that is doesn't solve the emotional turmoil. Holding onto pain from offenses,
(whether real or imagined), steals our chance for healing and peace. While we can't control what others have done to
us, we can control how we respond to it. I too have had times when I've been emotionally hurt so badly by someone that
it took time for me to recover from it. At some point, however, I realized that I had to put the wrong into the hands
of God, and let it go from mine, or I was going to remain hurt and bitter.
truly have to realize that it is a CHOICE BETWEEN FEELING BETTER AND GETTING WELL versus staying miserable. It's not
about making someone pay or not, but allowing ourselves to get well.
we need some help in working through our emotions. Visiting with a counselor or other professional who can help us see
the problems more realistically and in perspective can help. Many times when we're hurt and angry we want to tell it
to others, not to find relief but to find allies who will take our side and carry our offense or hurt. This is certainly
not helpful. Remember, you don't need allies to your anger, you need and want relief.