Typically people know if they are angry but there are some who do not. Road rage, sarcasm, put-downs and scoffing at others or at the world in general are usually anger-based—so can be spouting off continually about politics or what is wrong with the world. Masked as citizenship, you may not even be in touch with where your anger is coming from or even that you are angry.

Those who believe they are right and everybody else is wrong are difficult to be around. Hopefully this is not you.

Chronic anger is toxic, to you while you are experiencing it and to everyone in your world. It usually begins in childhood or early adulthood as a response to helplessness, abuse, being insulted or bullied in some way or just because bad things happened.

Maybe it was a loss of a parent, parents who left you mad at the world, or a god who you believe to be unjust. With no real target or solution to the cause, the anger comes out everywhere. When you combine anger and control, you may find you become a bully yourself.

You may fear venting your anger where it belongs, and instead take it out on a more vulnerable individual or group. It’s not unusual to come into every situation expecting the worst or at least a confrontation from someone.

If you aren’t sure if this is you, ask someone close to you, and be ready for his/her response. Don’t kill the messenger, but rather accept the information to move forward.

Studies show anger as the unhealthiest emotion, apparently releasing hormones or chemicals into the bloodstream that are considered “sticky.” Those “sticky” chemicals like to adhere to the arteries, making it more likely to develop
a blockage, possibly resulting in heart disease or stroke. Anger can block the ability to fully connect with others or to enjoy healthy relationships. Chronic anger typically blocks any ability to experience joy.

Thinking styles and inner language tend to promote anger without you even realizing it. These thinking styles are called attributions, and the name given for the phenomenon is Attribution Theory. How you perceive an event, not the event itself, is how you will react. If you perceive that someone has slighted you, even if the person didn’t, you will become angry and behave as though they did. Sometimes you have expectations of others, and when they don’t meet those expectations, you become angry.

Depression and grief, particularly in men, tends to manifest itself in anger and irritability. If left unchecked it can spiral out of control, causing relationship, work and even legal problems.

There are a number of dysfunctional thinking patterns that you may have learned if you grew up in a dysfunctional family. These negative patterns often feel ingrained and as though they are part of you or your personality but they are not, they are just something you learned and you can unlearn them, resulting in a happier and more successful existence for you.

If you think you may be processing life through a dysfunctional thinking pattern that is creating anger, visit our resource page and get your free resource, How to Break Free from 12 Dysfunctional Thought Patterns…and a handy chart to help you track your progress.

First written for PsychCentral

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