The way you express your displeasure links to your personality type. Take our quiz to know what angry person you are.
When Dr Bruce Banner gets angry – even the most impervious bystander can tell. If you tick off the scientist, he morphs into his angry alter ego, the Hulk. The Marvel comic superhero is famous for losing his shirt, quite literally, as he grows larger when he gets angry. His limitless strength comes in handy to smash things around him.
According to psychologist Dr Pavan Sonar, the angry, green giant’s method of expressing emotion is relatively ‘transparent’, a relatively healthy way to deal with rage. The rest of us ‘regular’ humans can only aspire to be as open when it comes to acting on anger.
“Problems start when you bottle up feelings, react now and think later, or feel that a destructive response is justified just because you’re furious,” says Sonar.
Both; flying off the handle and suppressing anger can take a toll on your health. It increases pain perception, depression, and ups your risk of heart disease if prolonged. On the flip side, a healthier response can soothe stress, lower your risk of heart problems and improve your relationships. The first step to managing anger, however, is to establish how you manifest it. Take the quiz;
HERE’S THE SITUATION…
You are going through financial difficulties. You rally to sort it out yourself. To vent, you call your best friend and share your problem. She offers sound advice and promises to honour your trust and not discuss the matter with anyone else. A week later, during a dinner with a group of people, another friend leans in and quietly asks whether he can lend you some money. What do you do?
A Create a scene. Publicly admonish your bestie for breaking your trust and spreading secrets that you conveyed while you were vulnerable. Rehash a similar incident that you encountered with her back in college and swear to never trust her again. This, while the rest of your friends watch in awkward silence.
B Grit your teeth and refuse to make eye contact with your friend for the rest of the night. Later, when she asks, you deny that anything’s wrong, but you leave early and rigorously avoid her calls for a couple of weeks.
C Sit through dinner in silence and smile when asked if something is wrong. Spend the weekend ruminating over the issue. Say nothing to your friend but have a long conversation in your head where you convince yourself to never confide in her about anything of importance.
D Put the incident out of your head for the evening. Ask your best friend to meet for coffee the next day. You tell her that you’re aware she betrayed you, your feelings are hurt, and it will take time for you to trust her again.
IF YOUR ANSWER WAS
A – REACTIVE
You respond immediately to perceived insult or threat. Yelling or slamming doors is familiar behaviour for people who know you. Many people act this way because it has proved to get results, say psychologists. They argue, however, that what you gain in immediate gratification, you lose in long-term respect. People may view you as volatile. You could also be seen as someone who bullies people to get their way.
People who explode also experience guilt later. Once they have calmed down, they feel ashamed. Research reveals this type of response creates stress on the heart. For this reason, it’s been linked to an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.
Solution: Freeze. Challenge yourself to think through your feelings. Reactive people often believe that those who don’t come out swinging are weak. But in reality, waiting is a sign of strength, because it shows self-control.
Breathe. When the telltale signs of a temper tantrum hit — rapid heartbeat, flushed face, tense muscles, the urge to yell — take 10 long breaths. Each breath should expand your belly. This breathing technique circulates extra oxygen. It also brings on the flow of calming hormones such as serotonin.
It should take 10 minutes for your heart to stop racing. This is an indication you’ve moved past the fight-or-flight stage that triggers your instinct to lash out. The challenge is to put forward a rational response that preserves your relationship and your self-respect. Do this by voicing your emotions of hurt without judging the other person.
As a long-term approach, try yoga or meditation.
B – PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE
Passive-aggressive behaviour is an easy way to avoid confrontation. Here, one indirectly attacks the other person by gossiping, withholding praise or giving them the silent treatment. This behaviour is fairly obvious to convey your irritation.
Such a person will spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how they’ve been wronged. This leads to emotional distress and anxiety.
Solution: Not sure if you’re being passive-aggressive? Ask yourself, how would I feel if someone else behaved this way with me? Passive-aggressive people often don’t feel entitled to have strong emotions. First, accept that you are upset. If you struggle with taking direct action when you’re upset, rehearse what you want to say in private.
In the conversation, focus on your needs. This could be a mutual goal like preserving the relationship, making up, clearing the air. Then, move on to your feelings.
C – AVOIDANT
Acting like all is well when it isn’t can physically make you sick. Internalising your emotions damages self-esteem. It makes you feel unable to assert your own needs. This can contribute to depression. Studies show that repressing anger can result in heart problems, digestive issues, and depression the same way exploding in anger can.
Bottling up anger causes a rush of negative stress hormones in the body, taxing the cardiovascular system.
Solution: Recognise your rage. Avoidant persons have trouble knowing when they’re angry. If you catch yourself ducking someone or claiming to be “stressed”, scan your recent interactions for a trigger event.
Avoidance usually stems from an unspoken worry, such as ending a relationship by making your feelings known. Face your demons. You will come to see that dread is often unfounded. Over time, taking action will be easier.
D – DIRECT
This is an ideal way to deal with your emotions. You have no problem admitting when you’re ticked off. Instead of saying the first thing that pops into your mind, formulate a rational, constructive, and respectful approach. Being straightforward is the most effective way to deal with anger and see it through to a positive, swift resolution. It shows you’re respectful of others’ needs and feelings while giving your own emotions enough attention.
Work on: Brushing up your communication skills. At times, knowing how others deal with anger can also help mould the way you play your card. For example, if your bestie falls in the first category, you might be better off letting them know how you feel over the phone but stalling the direct confrontation till they have had time to calm down. The ideal situation would be if both warring parties fall in the last category. However, that seldom is the case.