Recognizing & Managing Anger

2. Detect Emotional Roots

“Don’t you dare get angry with me, young man!” Ever heard this before? All anger has emotional roots. These roots can sometimes be difficult to recognize and examine. Imagine growing up in a verbally abusive parent-child relationship. Your survival (and anger) can be rooted in blocking these memories. Unfortunately, a coworker, spouse, or even a friend who reminds you of an abusive parent can rekindle past hurts and anger. Many people discover that their angry behavior as adults is similar to the angry behavior they observed or were taught as children.

Most people do not even know when they are feeling angry until it reaches the explosion point. That is why it is important to:

  • Identify frustrations and rejection
  • Look at the past and present

Let’s now look at how you can identify your own particular anger cues.

Identify Frustrations and Rejection

Review your recent history. Is there a work or personal situation that has become increasingly frustrating? When you experience rejection, hurt and anger are not far behind. You can experience rejection in any aspect of your life—from an intimate relationship to a team meeting at the office.

Frustrations and rejections associated with your current experience are often easy to identify because they are directly related to recent events. It is when your anger from rejection is rooted in your past that the identification of the source of anger becomes more difficult. If you have emotional scars that were created from past rejection or frustrations, you may react more intensely with anger to any similar rejection or frustration that you experience today.

Look at the Past and Present

Recognizing anger rooted in the past is complicated. Many have experienced some level of dysfunction in their family of origin. When the dysfunction has elements of abuse, searching the past often becomes painful. It is painful to review old wounds. However, it will be easier, as an adult, to let go of the hurt and anger of the past when you understand that anger was used as protection. At this point in your life, it is probably not serving you well. You needed that protection when you were younger, but you need to discard the anger now.

Sometimes you may need help in finding your source of anger. Seek help from a friend or professional. While this might be painful, it can also help you move toward setting and achieving your goals.