Anger: An emotion that is felt when we perceive that we are being attacked, threatened, or treated unfairly.
Variation: annoyed, impatient, furious
Strengths: Helps us understand our limits, and push us to find solutions to our interpersonal conflicts.
Drawbacks: If uncontrolled, anger can be expressed as aggression, making us choose irrational and hurtful actions. It will also adversely affect our heart health and worsen hypertension.
Fight or Flight
KALMers, have you ever felt absolutely furious? So angry that your breath is short and shallow, and your hands shaking, and you’re just ready to start a fight?
Or maybe you’ve felt angry about some injustice done at the office, at home, or even online. So angry that you can hardly think of anything else, just all the reasons and ways you’re right and the other person is wrong!
As with all our other emotions, anger is a psychological response toward our experiences. Anger is specifically a response to situations where we feel attacked, threatened, or unfairly treated.
The result? Our body goes into fight or flight mode.
Anger is one of the strongest and most beneficial emotions we could possibly have; if we only learn how to acknowledge and process the emotion! After all, the instinct to fight is an incredible combination of physical, mental, and emotional motivation unlike any other.
But why are so many people angry when the situation isn’t truly threatening? And even worse, why do they go and treat other people unfairly when they feel that way?
KALMers, if you’ve ever felt someone take out their anger and frustration at you suddenly and without warning, you must know how absolutely unfair that feels!
Anger is Triggered in Many Ways
In reality, because we are humans, we individually have very different reasons and triggers to feeling angry.
Here are some examples:
- Formative Experiences – Maybe when you were younger, your older brother treated you unfairly by stealing food and lying about it. Now, every time someone reaches out to take food from your plate you immediately get angry!
- Suppressing Feelings for a Long Time – Maybe you’ve tried for years to keep your anger towards your boss suppressed and bottled up, and suddenly you take it out on a new employee who has similar habits as your boss!
- A Way of Communicating – Maybe since you were young, expressing your opinions in anger is the surest way to be heard by your parents. For you, getting angry is an invitation to get to know each other better, to deepen the relationship by knowing what each other thinks.
- Needing Control – Maybe there are areas in your life where you feel out of control, and so in an area where you have the ability to express yourself freely (with family, or a team that you lead), getting angry is a way to feel in control.
- Depression/Anxiety – If you are diagnosed with either of these, it is possible to get angry for no apparent reason, out of nowhere.
As humans with many prior experiences, memories, and teachings – we unknowingly take after our parents, friends, role models, and the people around us. All of that becomes a mix of habits and triggers that are frankly extremely difficult to predict.
KALMers, only by being a student of our own triggers can we make transform our anger into a constructive force in our lives, instead of mere aggression.
Anger that is Aggressive vs. Anger that is Positive
KALMers, there is a way to use our emotion of anger to become an engine for good change in our lives. As with every emotion, anger is a unique and healthy psychological response.
It is the only one that will give us the drive to take action against obstacles and injustice, to know right and wrong in our lives. This emotion can push us toward finding solutions toward our interpersonal conflicts.
This is how you can transform your aggressive anger into a productive habit:
- Not Complaining, but Investigating – Instead of venting our anger, we should use the situation to learn more about ourselves. Ask yourself: why am I angry? What do I feel is not fair about this situation? What is making me feel threatened? A study says that venting to friends or online “catharsis” does not actually diminish how angry we feel, but instead increases the likelihood that we’ll do something aggressive.
- Not Suppressing, but Expressing – Other than that, we need to be able to explain our anger to ourselves, instead of suppressing all our annoyances. So that we understand the situation with clarity – no nonsense, and neither exaggerated or understated.
- Not Exploding, but Taking Action – Then, we need to consider – that person who was unfair to us, do they need to know all the details of why we felt angry toward them? Take into account who they are! Depending on our relationship with the person who hurt us, that individual is not always ready to receive criticism or work on their weaknesses. So, think about it creatively! Is there a way to fix that injustice? Is this a systemic problem? Can you live by example and instead change their point of view.
- Not Blaming, but Uniting – If we regard everyone that hurts us as villains in our lives, we forget that they too have the power and responsibility to be better. Conversely, don’t forget that every one of us has problems and weaknesses – and we too, have the power to change. So, instead of constantly blaming each other, let’s inspire each other to always become better people!
Notes: Sometimes we can feel too furious to be able to do this. When we have to calm our anger, one of the ways to do it is by calming ourselves through talking to our Kalmselor through our KALM App.
Justice, Truth, and A Better Life
KALMers, we must know that anger doesn’t always bring us to aggressive behavior. It can bring us to champion the good.
Just as someone who fights for women’s rights to education, or someone who fights against the exploitation of young children.
Does this come from a feeling of happiness? No! Those actions come from impatience, annoyance, and anger towards injustices that shouldn’t happen against other people.
So we shouldn’t consider anger something to be rid of, but to be reordered. Redirected toward movements and actions that build each other and our collective society up!
KALMers, we are excited to see you learn more about your anger and direct all that energy and motivation for a better life!
Writer: Nathania Handoyo