Is it possible to live in a state of anger, in other words, with anger as the baseline emotion? Yes, especially when the angry person believes that he/she cannot live without anger. A person living with anger as their baseline is always ready to survive, by whatever means necessary. Chronic anger happens when that anger filled person feels that without the anger they are powerless to act. The angry person cannot control or dissipate the anger because then they feel powerless; anger gives them a sense of action/power.
from fear to anger to rage
What drives the transformation of fear into anger then rage? Fear is a response to anticipated or actual emotional or physical pain. Extreme fear triggers a survival response – the desire to preserve the self and/or others who are perceived to be in danger. A common survival response is anger; in the case of chronic anger the physical and emotional energy of fear channels into aggression.
A chronically angry person goes to rage quite easily. Their rage often erupts from triggers from their past that they may not even be consciously aware of. A chronically angry person is likely a person who is often described by others as having anger issues. One difficulty in remaining constantly angry over time is physical breakdown occurs. Anger actually hurts the body to retain that high level of stress. Anger and rage are great stressors in and on the body.
Chronic anger is a habitual response to present and past pain; however, underlying anger there is usually, fear. In order to address chronic anger, there is a need to deal with the underlying fear. Since each person’s history and perception of pain is individual, the revolving cycles of fear and anger are particular to each person as well. Anger having become an instinctive response to any kind of threat affects each body in particular muscle groups.
Biologically the endocrine system is the communications system that activates and sustains the anger response within the body. Once the endocrine system is activated in this way, anger tends to have a self-fulfilling outcome because anger alerts and affects all of the body’s systems. Fortunately, it is possible to become aware of this recurring cycle and interrupt it by paying careful attention to the indicators that point to an incipient “anger attack”. With awareness of the fear-anger transition, it is possible to vary one’s response to stimuli.
Effective strategies for transforming the anger cycle
- Become aware of your body indicators of increased anger. For example; feeling hot or cold, pain (note what part of body it is in) change in heart rate, mouth (more or less moisture), bowel changes, breathing rate, muscle tension, numbness, vision or hearing or smell changes, that indicate that one becoming angry is about to erupt. Overtime learn to differentiate those from your body indicators for fear.
- When you experience these indicators occurring, take notice and then take a time out until you are feeling calmer.
- Learn to separate emotional responses from body habits.
- When calm attempt to understand why that cycle began, when did it transform or did it change from fear to the angry response? Was it a memory – an event in the past or the present? Thus, you can create an understanding what has been triggered.
- Separate as much as possible the past event from the present situation.
- Reach out to a support person, share whatever the feelings are and explore what’s been triggered.
- Write notes regarding the triggering event or behavior and its connection to the buttons that have been pushed by the behavior, so change can happen. Note all physical and emotional indictors, the particular responses and note any patterns. That is why a record of the signals is important. In time, awareness will make you able to anticipate the anger response and transform it to awareness.