Painting by Belynda Wilson Thomas

Anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything. Unknown

What makes us angry? We can go from zero to sixty very quickly.

Seneca broke anger management into three parts. First, we must avoid becoming angry. Second, we must learn to control our angry feelings. Third, we must find a way to express our anger to others in an appropriate way. This was in 45 B.C. and is still our anger management model.

A threatened animal is a dangerous animal, a threatened human is a dangerous person. In our anger do we sometimes overreact? Are there good reasons to be angry, and good ways of handling our anger? If we can’t discuss why we are angry we sometimes bottle it up inside which can lead to high blood pressure, increased stress, depression, and even more anger.

We have a psychological response, a heightened sense of power, but a lack of reason, clarity, and judgment; a physiological response that causes a surge of adrenaline, increased heart rate, and other physical manifestations; and a cognitive response, when we express or repress our anger, or we can calm ourselves.

In the bible, it says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention. Proverbs 15:18

Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly. Proverbs 14:29

Obviously, we are to have some control over our anger. Lives are ruined because of uncontrolled anger; people are killed in fits of passion (anger). We may feel justified in our anger and still have it ruin our lives. We cannot take back words said in anger. We cannot fix relationships ruined by anger unless we can deal with the anger.

A small study in the Journal of Psychology and Aging suggests anger, much more than sadness, is linked to negative health effects in older people. This is believed to contribute to inflammation and chronic disease. Does this mean if we get our anger under control we live healthier lives?

Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Buddha

Studies show us anger makes us more impulsive and makes us underestimate the chances of bad outcomes. Anger also influences group dynamics. When we are angry we feel more negatively and in a more prejudiced way about outsiders. We tend to blame negative traits on a person’s nature rather than their circumstances. Angry people tend to look for someone to blame. This can make an angry person even more enraged with offending persons or groups and perpetuate a spiral of irrational rage.

Seneca pronounced anger, “Worthless even for war,” and wrath is one of the seven deadly sins.

A study at Southwest Missouri State University surveyed 200 men and women, suggested that women are as angry and act on their anger as frequently as men. The main difference they identified was men felt less effective when forced to control their anger, and women seemed better able to control immediate impulsive responses to anger.

As a society do we romanticize anger and aggression? A study found people with violent childhoods could discriminate between good and bad strangers in an experiment. But they were less likely to trust people, even when they behaved generously. “It shapes them so fundamentally that they’re not able to easily discriminate who they can trust. That constant feeling of threat means aggression can be triggered far more easily, in the future,” said Baskin-Sommers.

It seems we control our anger, or our anger controls us. People who were brought up in violent households may have a harder time, but we hear all the time about people who changed the course of their lives by staying away from what ruined their parents’ lives. Our choices shape our lives. Are our reactions to the things that make us angry, and even the things that make us angry something we should take a hard look at?

When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry count to a hundred. Thomas Jefferson

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow. Chinese Proverb

You have power over your mind – not outside events realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus Aurelius

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