Anger can be really nasty. You may have firsthand experience with the pain and suffering it produces. Its toxic effects cut across many areas of life. Anger can ruin relationships. It can increase the risk of heart attacks. And having a life filled with anger is just plain unpleasant. You may not be sure that you can change the way you act when you’re angry. But we think you by examining the role that anger plays in your life. That’s a big step toward living a more peaceful and productive life.
Anger can be difficult to understand. In fact, you may have felt both happy remember plenty of times when your anger seemed justified—almost proper.
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably said to yourself, “I have a right to be angry after what she did!” Yet, if you’re honest with yourself, you can recognize that there have been times when your anger was too strong, lasted too long, created unnecessary problems, or was just plain foolish. You can probably recall times when your anger led to arguments, headaches, regrets, cataract surgery, stupid behavior, and other problems, even when you believed it was appropriate.
Anger is one of our basic feelings. Scholars—including Charles Darwin, a naturalist; Robert Plutchik, an evolutionary psychologist; and Paul Ekman, a professor emeritus of psychology—have written about anger in people in all cultures, and from all parts of the world. 1 Anger is common in families, work-places, and most relationships. Anger, like other emotions, is woven into the fabric of human existence.
Some aspects of anger are positive. It’s part of the ups and downs of relationships and can be a useful signal that something isn’t right. Some anger can even improve understanding between people. For example, your voice raised in anger can signal to others that you’re talking about something important, and it can lead them to listen more carefully to you. Or anger may motivate you to make changes in your life and even face problems that you’ve been avoiding. Anger can also lead to zest, excitement, and passion. The plain truth is that we wouldn’t want to live in a world without anger. It has its benefits, and so this book isn’t about entirely eliminating anger from your life.
But anger can also lead to significant loss and suffering. Damage to relationships with family members, friends, and co-workers is a common consequence of anger. Angry people don’t think straight, and they make bad decisions. In addition, long-term anger can entail severe medical problems, such as heart disease and stroke. These are just a few of the reasons to keep your anger under control. We’ll give you others as you read on.
“Why do I get angry?” “Why do others in my life treat me so badly?” “How can I make my life better?” As psychologists, we’ve worked with many adults and teenagers over the years, and we’ve noticed that the same questions Anger is an emotional response that you consciously feel. At its core, anger is an internal awareness of arousal, accompanied by specific thoughts, feelings, and desires.