The Cause of Anger
What is Anger?

The proximate cause of anger is usually a situation or event in our life where something happens or happened that we think “should” be different.

The thought of that unwanted situation or event seems to trigger an emotionally charged response. We know from the early stress research of Walter Cannon that our emotions have measurable physiological parameters which can be very stressful.

The biological parameters of anger can include:

  • a change in heart rate,
  • breath rate,
  • hormones,
  • muscle tension, and
  • neurotransmitters etc.

All these parameters, when maintained over time can have negative consequences on our health and well being.

But why do we have that stressful emotionally charged response? We can understand the proximate cause of anger … from a deeper level.

Judgment is a Leading Cause of Anger

Anger is a physiological and emotional response we have when we believe a cherished idea, or concept has been violated.

  • Perhaps we think someone did not treat us fairly.
  • Perhaps we think someone did something “wrong”.
  • Perhaps our understanding of an agreement was broken.
  • Maybe someone lied to us and we think they shouldn’t have.
  • Something happened which we “think” should not have happened.
  • Or something didn’t happen which we “think” should have happened.

So we have this emotionally charged idea, based on a judgment.

We have decided what “should be” or what “should happen”, and we are playing God.

Does this behavior serve us well?
NO
It usually makes us feel stressed and unhappy.
It also undermines our physical health.

In some ways we love anger. We get to feel justified and self righteous. We create the drama. We take the star role and limelight and we feed our ego with it.

But does anger actually give us the lasting happiness we desire?
NO

Forgiveness, acceptance and peace work better.

When we are flexible to the possible outcomes of a situation, we can avoid anger. When we see that others are doing the best they can, even if we wish they would do differently, we can avoid anger. Letting go of self righteous judgments can be very helpful.

Neurological Causes of Anger

Sometimes anger may have neurological causes. As explained above, our emotions are very connected to how our body functions. If anger is a persistent problem for you, or if you are waking up angry without knowing the cause of anger, please consult a qualified health care practitioner.

Fatigue as a Cause of Anger

Looked at from another perspective, anger means we had a desire which was not accomplished. This often happens because we are too tired and confused to act effectively and accomplish our desire. When tired or confused we are more likely to feel impatient, or focus our life energy around that sense of failure. We have disempowered ourselves from moving forward constructively.

In this case the best thing we can do is to get more rest. After a good night sleep, we have more energy and clarity to help us understand our situation and take effective, appropriate action to accomplish our desires.

Anger is a natural response of the human body. It can come because we don’t always accomplish or have the things we want, when we want them, at least not on planet earth. So there is no point in feeling guilty about having anger.

How to Deal with Anger Skillfully
Anger can be minimized and dissolved. We can learn tips and tools for how to deal with anger effectively, without repressing it or bottling it up.

Learning how to handle anger helps us take this very common, destructive emotion and resolve it to find forgiveness, peace and harmony.

For an overview of many stress relief techniques return to
Gentle Stress Relief home page.