Why are we angry?



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Anger unleashed (picture credit twasa@www.sxc.hu )

Curled lips with a frown on face,
A vivid jerk of neck in impatience,
While pulling an imprudent gaze.
Slams the door behind in insolence.

Never to look into the eyes,
But, with a heavy breadth,
As one of their own before sigh,
Turns total stranger of late.

With a bond that has turned cold,
Perhaps the hopes seemed never fulfilled,
Once a rapport so tough that could endure till old
Now, a link so frail that couldn’t be sealed.

In the world where expectations rule,
While faking many things is a norm,
Anger on you till you loose your cool,
If you happen to dig out the truth worm.

Now, arguments and debates of who is right,
Replacing words of affection and care,
Proving the point until logic leaves sight,
Leaving relations hanging totally bare.

                    – Uruj Kohari

Why do we feel angry? What brings about anger in us? Towards whom is our anger really targeted? But, the biggest question is: What is anger?

Definitions vary. It’s different for different people. Very subjective at it’s very best.

However, as with everything, people are prone to offering generalisations of the theories close to their heart. Like, “I feel angry when I don’t get what I want!” is one such suggestion. “I feel angry when I ‘am let down by others.” “I get angry sometimes and I am not sure of its cause. I just feel angry on myself and others. Maybe it’s just my mood.”

Contributors to Wikipedia puts it like, “Anger is an emotion related to one’s psychological interpretation of having been offended, wronged or denied and a tendency to undo that by retaliation.” Others define it as, “…a normal emotion that involves a strong, uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation.”

However, the most interesting of all the definitions observed so far: “Anger becomes the predominant feeling behaviourally, cognitively, and physiologically when a person makes the conscious choice to take action to immediately stop the threatening behaviour of another outside force.”

The most important observations noticed so far makes me believe that the trigger to anger, in most of the cases, happens to be based on ‘perception’, which may or may not be real. Another observation points to the fact that an angry person, in most cases, resorts to justification of even the most erroneous acts performed by self by modifying the most logical arguments and pushing it towards fallacy. Fallacies make connections between facts and present an idea, which seemingly looks factual. For e.g. A book is on the table. The table is on the floor. Hence, the book is on the floor.

Anger, certainly is about feelings and emotions. It is an emotion present in every individual living and breathing on this planet. However, the intensity of the same varies. We inherit this emotion as an infant. Some cry and vent out their anger while others pent it up and blow it over on a person or a thing which can absorb it. If anger is pent up, then it may turn dangerous inhibiting our capacity to think objectively. A person with anger may even seem to think logically and present logical arguments but the ability to make wise decisions gets impaired drastically.

Medical science informs us that there is an increased activity in the lateral orbitofrontal cortex of the brain experiencing anger. This area is a part of prefrontal cortex in the frontal lobes of the brain, which is involved in the cognitive processing of decision-making, generation of logical arguments, planning, strategy and the most important part; lying and alteration of facts.

As we can observe, anger could be viewed as impulsive; acting on a sudden stimuli, deliberate; targeted towards a person or a thing (with or without the presence of a sudden stimuli), or based on one’s character trait; a person can have an angry persona characterised by the way they behave in public or private but may not be targeted specifically on what we can call as a ‘stimuli’.

For many, anger is destructive in nature while for others it is a mature emotion: meaningful and perhaps, even creative. It can provide an individual the much needed power to do big things and to shed inhibitions. With the correct venting of anger nations and businesses were and are being conquered.

Anger can be found to be selectively targeted at a person or it can take up the form of one’s mood and feelings while being blown over at people or things around that person. People feel angry when they think they are not understood, appreciated by the person who they believe must understand them. There is a strong expectation of being understood and if that is not met then that could start an instance of anger.

Anger is an emotion which springs up memories of infanthood when an infant has just seen the world and slowly starts separating itself from its carers and then begins life on its own. It is still unable to communicate its needs and feelings and expects the mother to continue taking care of it. It feels hungry. It needs to sleep. It is scared of disturbances and events happening around.

But, the status quo of being in the womb shatters after labour, which brings about overwhelming trauma on the little one and the infant is unable to cope up with it. The world outside dawns over like a black scary shadow as it leaves the safe, cosy confines of the mother’s womb. This trauma is excruciatingly painful. But, this jolt of an incident is the nature’s way of forcing the infant to the next level where it will start accessing its cognitive abilities. This slowly pushes the little one towards processing the meaning of events happening outside its neurological domain.

Meanwhile, since not all of the needs and wants of the infants are addressed, it starts to slowly pent up the anger within, while occasionally, venting it out in the form of a cry or moving of the arms and legs in frustration while the adults think it is normal for an infant to do so.

We sometimes have a general feeling of anger and attribute it to our moods. While at other times, just the sight of a person on whom we are angry brings about feeling of rage within us.

While anger is a general feeling of emotion, rage takes over as the most active part of it. Broken plates and broken hearts could well be attributed to the unleashing of rage from a person. It is usually directed at objects, which are delicate while also being vented out through rough words and actions at people who will absorb them. People who are close or those who are subordinates usually bear the brunt of the fury, not withstanding whether the action is justifiable or not.

If anger is held for a long time, the pent up emotion may push the person towards aggression or stonewalling depending upon the intrinsic character and temperament of the one experiencing it. Anger must be released; it must be vented out or better still; channelised to obtain creative results.

The actions from rage usually bring about remorse when the emotional fury subsides. The intellectual capability of our neural system processes this complex scenario later and then offer suggestions for corrective action such as offering apologies. At times the fallout is so intense that the corrective action and the feeling of the same arrive very late while the damage is already done.

Though there is no way to curb the anger, there surely is a way to control it and direct it to obtain creative results. It is different for different people as we can see it and hence every individual must learn to identify the use of this great potential within them and use it to further their goals. It will surely give the much needed boost to their self esteem and propel them higher on their way to success.

3 thoughts on “Why are we angry?

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