Be Careful — Anger Can Ruin Your Life

Anger is a toxic emotion that can poison your brain, ruin your health, and destroy relationships. It has many faces — irritation, impatience, road rage, resentment to mention a few. Anger gives us a jolt of energy and it is possible to become addicted to it for that reason. That is the most alive some people ever feel. Like alcohol, however, it makes you feel better for a little while but takes a terrible toll. Anger distorts perception and has harmful biological effects.

We all have hot button issues — issues we hold repressed emotions around. Someone might say something totally innocuous, but the words could be like dynamite to us because of past experiences. Telling people what to do often ignites a hostile response because it arouses rebellious feelings we had as children when we had to do what we were told.

Many anger triggers are rooted in childhood; so is the way we express it. We tend to go into a self-protective, non-thinking state and revert to childlike behavior. We may scream, cry, throw things, verbally or physically attack. I’m sure you’ve seen mature adults lose it if someone breaks in line in front of them, or cuts them off on the highway.

The ultimate source of my mental happiness is my peace of mind. Nothing can destroy this except my own anger. Dalai Lama


Anger and stress are closely related. They’re primal reactions to harm or deprivation. When a person feels endangered in any way, brain centers go into warfare mode. Feelings of rage and hostility flood the body-mind in preparation for battle. People who are angry all the time are in a constant psychological and physical attack state.

The greatest common universal cause of anger is lack of reciprocation, feeling we have given more than we received. Cooperation and reciprocation are necessary to living harmoniously in a social environment. Being taken advantage of upsets the balance. An angry response is often an attempt to punish or control others. If we can make people feel guilty enough, they’ll conform to our will and give us what we want.

Due to the rush of adrenalin it sparks, some people associate anger with power. It may give the illusion of power but is actually a sign of weakness, losing control. Some may argue that anger can be constructive, but in itself, it is always destructive. However, the energy can be transformed into positive action. It is not the anger but the action generated that is constructive.

The purpose of anger is to destroy, and that’s what it does. Attacking never resolves situations. It always makes them worse. Anger weakens the body-mind and ruins relationships. The next time you’re angry, notice what happens to you. You release adrenaline and your heart rate and blood pressure increase. Breathing becomes rapid and shallow. Muscles tense, face flushes. Poisonous chemicals are released in the body and brain and there is an increased risk of heart disease.

When anger rises, think of the consequences. Confucius

Jane hated her ex-husband. Ten years after their divorce, she still blamed him for everything that was wrong in her life. True, he had cheated on her, lied to her, deceived the courts and deprived her of a fair settlement. But to be angry for 10 years? Is anything worth that? It took a while to convince Jane that forgiveness was for her benefit, not his. What she needed to forgive was not his actions, but her hatred and the belief that his actions were the cause of her lack of self-esteem, insecurity, and unhappiness.

Your judgment of a particular situation or person may be absolutely right. The object of your irritation may be abusing, deceiving, depriving or manipulating you. He/she/it may be absolutely wrong and your feelings are justified. What good does that do you? Anger doesn’t solve problems; it makes them worse.

Not many people in this world set out to consciously hurt others. Have you ever been annoyed at someone for a perceived slight only to later discover that they hadn’t said or done what you thought? Most of our conflicts are the result of poor communication, misunderstanding and misperception. Try to see situations from a different angle. Why are people doing what they’re doing? What are their needs? Nothing erases anger faster than compassion.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Excerpt from Make the Best of the Rest of Your Life