Anger is a Choice

"What you are speaks so loudly that I can't hear what you are saying." This statement makes me think about people who don't really have to say anything. I just know what is happening with them by their facial expression and actions. Does that sound familiar? Words are only part of the way we say what we mean. Our tone of voice and body language account for about 93% of how we actually interact with others.

Anger is a great example of an emotion that can be communicated without words at all. When we get angry, there is a definite physical response. Anger can be a hazard to health and well being. When we continue to let it escalate, our body responds by releasing chemicals. These chemicals prepare us for "fight" or "flight", as in a case of threat of harm. The heart beats faster and body temperature rises. Blood pressure and breathing increase in response to stress. If we are angry frequently and let it continue to escalate, it harms the body. The heart gets weaker by continued pressure on arterial walls and the immune system gets depleted, thus leading to disease. There are many reasons to control anger. To maintain general health is one but our interactions and relationships with others is another.

Some may think that anger needs to be non - existent in order to feel or relate better. That is not a realistic assumption. Anger is a normal emotional response to something we dislike or feel in times of danger or threat. You've heard of the "adrenaline rush", well, it can be very beneficial. In fact, it can lead us to act in such constructive ways that our self esteem and well being are improved. Therefore, it is how we act upon the feeling that determines the extent of our well being. Think of anger as an emotion, a feeling, a communicator, and a cause - that says it all.

So, how can we deal with this emotion in a less detrimental and more positive way? We must first become aware of our own physiological responses. We can monitor the feeling and arousal. Sometimes, just being aware helps to change our behavior. Keep a chart or diary of the anger. Write the number of occurrences and your reaction. Think about the response, then you have a choice - continue to let it escalate or change to a more positive action. Instead of letting angry feelings control us, we can learn to take responsibility and control the response. For example, I am having a disagreement with a friend. I feel the anger begin with my pulse increase andhaving a feeling of being flushed. I can then respond, "I really don't agree with you, maybe we can look at other alternatives." I am explaining how I feel and giving the other a chance to be more open to respond. I am not screaming and becoming hostile. Nothing ever gets resolved after we start being aggressive. It becomes pointless and leads us to feel frustrated and defeated.

There are other ways to control anger as well. Exercise, relaxation and improving communication and assertiveness skills can all be learned. Then, we can benefit more positively from a situation that might have had harmful and long lasting effects.

Anger is a choice. It can be handled and lead to more productive and caring behavior or it can lead to destructive and hurtful interactions for us and others.

Copyright 1994,1995 Lovina Pivin
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