“It’s only fair when I yell at you, she said to me once.
You had a better Childhood.” Brian Andreas

Consider the last time you felt angry. What set you off?
Stress at work.
Long waiting lines.
High phone bill.
The mess at home.
Computer problems.
He was drunk. Again.
She didn’t call.
No one would help.
They never listen.

Sound familiar? By repeatedly blaming, venting and justifying your anger, you remain stuck in a pattern of angry thoughts or behavior. Complaints and blame focus your attention outward, blocking your insight. Blocked insight interferes with problem solving. Insight and problem solving skills are necessary tools for working through anger. Let’s begin the process of working through anger with understanding why you get sooo angry.
Why do you get sooo angry?
1. Physical Danger: You are a human. As a species, your anger response was originally designed to help you during threats of physical danger or vulnerability. Anger triggers a series of chemical reactions in the body that allow you to “fight, flight or freeze.” As a predator attempts to kill and eat you, your anger response helps you move faster, fight harder or play dead. This anger response helps you avoid becoming lunch.

2. Physical Vulnerability: Blood sugar and hormone levels, chronic pain and fatigue, brain damage and biochemical disorders are just a few health conditions that create physical challenges. When you become overly tired, uncomfortably hungry or suffer with chronic pain, your body chemistry signals aggression to protect this vulnerability. Just like a wounded animal, when your body is vulnerable your irritability and aggression serves as a protective devise to distance others.

3. Emotional Vulnerability: In addition to physical protection, human anger also serves as emotional protection. By focusing your attention outward, anger and blame create a defense against identifying and experiencing the more fragile and painful emotions such as fear, anxiety, shame, grief, depression and hopelessness. Emotional vulnerably includes limited coping skills, unrealistic expectations, narcissistic entitlement and those emotionally painful deeper core issues.

Understanding Anger: Transforming Anger into Insight

Use the checklist of questions below to transform anger and blame into insight. Each time you feel angry check for:

1. Physical danger: Is your life threatened or in danger?
2. Physical vulnerability: Are you tired, hungry, or suffering low blood sugar, chronic pain, biochemical or hormonal imbalance?
3. Emotional vulnerability: Are you using anger and blame to protect other emotions such as fear, anxiety, shame, grief, depression or loss of control?
Additional examples of emotional vulnerability:
A. Limited coping skills: Do you tend to “blow up” rather than problem-solve?
B. Unrealistic expectations: Do you have difficulty adjusting to change? Are you expecting perfection?
Are you unable to reasonably predict consequences and outcome? (Example: feeling road rage when traffic is slow during rush hour or becoming angry when an adolescent behaves exactly like a teenager.)
C. Narcissistic entitlement: Does waiting, sharing, taking turns or accommodating others make you mad?
D. Deeper Core Issues:
*Does your anger mask a fear of not having control or feelings of helplessness or vulnerability?
*Is jealous, competitive anger covering up feelings of fear, insecurity and anxiety?
*Do you become angry when you fear abandonment or rejection?
*Does your anger conceal a fear of not being loved or not feeling lovable?
*Is anger hiding your inner fears of failure or inadequacy? (Not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc..)

Begin taking responsibility for understanding and transforming your anger and blame into insight. Once you identify the origin of your anger, you may choose strategies to prevent future blow-ups.
• Spend a few minutes reflecting on how your anger may be connected to much needed lifestyle changes.
• Become mindful of when anger and blame protect your deeper, more painful emotions.

If YOUR anger protects YOUR emotional pain, what does that tell you about your angry teenager? Your angry spouse? Your angry co-worker, employee or supervisor?

"Why Do You Get Soooo Angry?" is an excerpt from Chapter 4: Healing Anger from "Change Your Thoughts, Heal Your Life, An 11-Week Self-Help Workbook", Copyright 2006, revised 2010.

Author's Bio: 

Telka Arend-Ritter L.M.S.W., A.C.S.W., a graduate of Michigan State University, is a licensed Social Worker for the state of Michigan. Telka has been providing cognitive-behavioral mental health and addictions services and facilitating workshops,seminars, and classes since 1984. Telka is the author and facilitator of an 11-session cognitive behavioral treatment program designed to treat stress, anxiety, depression anger and relationship problems. Telka's "Life Solutions" program, approved in 2007 as a 22-credit Social Work continuing education series, is based on her workbook "Change Your Thoughts, Heal Your Life, An 11-Week Self-Help Workbook", Copyright 2006, revised 2010. She and her psychologist husband live near Lansing with their teenage daughter and elderly, diabetic cat.