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I addressed what makes ordinary women angry day-to-day in my previous blog and how our gender socialization impacts how we view and express anger as women. (In 1993, Thomas conducted the Women’s Anger Study, a large-scale investigation involving 535 women between the ages of 25 and 66. The study revealed three common roots to women’s anger: powerlessness, injustice and the irresponsibility of other people.)

Many of the long term consequences of anger are negative. Yet, anger is part of our biological makeup for both genders. It is part of the fight-or-flight reaction. It had survival value in the past and it has some positives in the present including but not limited to the following:

  1. It can be an appropriate response to injustice (anger may have played a role in social movements that led to equality for women, the elderly, blacks, the disabled, protection of helpless animals, Mothers Against Drunk Driving to name a few)
  2. It is an alerting function that may help us become aware of situations in our life that we need to address directly which may lead to problem solving
  3. It may present an increased motivation to right the wrongs we see in the world as well as in our individual lives

Verbal expressions of anger may include yelling, arguing, cursing and sarcasm. Anger can also be expressed physically by raising a clenched fist, throwing a book on the floor, breaking a pencil or hitting a wall.

Anger crosses the line when it becomes aggression. Aggression has a determined intention to harm another person. Often, it reflects a desire for dominance and control. Weapons are often involved. Aggression can be shown by punching, shoving, hitting or even maiming another person, and it can occur in marital violence, child or elder abuse, bullying, or gang and criminal activities. Research shows that 90% of the time, it is acts of aggression arising from anger that wind up in the criminal justice system. But only 10 percent of anger experiences are actually followed by aggression. People often want to act aggressively when angry but most do not actually take aggressive actions. This is not to say that anger may not have negative and long lasting effects on a marriage or other significant relationships.

Facts about anger:

  • Some degree of anger will be with us for all of our lives.
  • When anger is mild, infrequent, dissipates quickly and is expressed assertively (directly to the problem person, in a non-accusatory manner) and without aggression, then professional help is not needed
  • In such circumstances, anger may serve the role of simply highlighting your annoyance and it can lead to problem resolution.
  • Taking a breather using simple tools, such as relaxation techniques and visual imagery, can help soothe angry feelings and may be a good first step before talking to person with whom you are angry.

When is more intensive professional help necessary? There is cause for alarm if:

  • your anger is moderate to intense
  • experienced frequently
  • endures to the point where you are holding a grudge
  • you have plans for revenge and getting even
  • is expressed in aggressive verbal and physical actions

When you experience anger as outlined above, you are likely at risk for the negative relationship, health and sometimes legal repercussions related to inappropriate anger expression. There can be a very high cost to anger. The good news is that mental health professionals can help you understand the triggers for your anger and help you develop strategies to control your anger and improve your life. _____________________

The relaxation techniques used to reduce stress can be very helpful in coping with anger and expressing it appropriately. Crossroads Programs for Women offers on demand video psycho-educational lectures which include resource materials and exercises for relaxation. Check them out here: https://crossroadsprogramsforwomenvide.pivotshare.com/

If you believe your anger has become aggression, please call Crossroads for information on how our programs can help. www.crossroadsprogramsforwomen.com 800-348-0937