In our society, anger is considered a negative emotion. As children we are taught that we should not get angry. But the truth is that anger is a feeling of defense, it is present in conflict situations and is activated when we think we are being treated unfairly, when we feel hurt or when something is not going the way we would like.
In fact, anger is a very powerful feeling that has a strong dynamic effect. That is, it gives us the motivation and drive necessary to fight against what we consider unfair or threatening, in order to protect ourselves.
Therefore, anger itself is not negative, as long as we do not use it constantly, because in this case it can be very harmful, even for ourselves. What is really harmful is aggression.
What differentiates anger from aggression?
To understand the difference between anger and aggression, we must keep in mind that anger, like all emotions, has three types of response.
1. Physics. Our body is activated for defense or attack: heart rate increases, breathing accelerates, muscles tense and blood flow is activated. It is a state of arousal that predisposes us to act impulsively, because the amygdala takes control of the situation and can produce an "emotional seizure", that is, it "deactivates" the control of the frontal lobes. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Chicago revealed that people with anger problems show hyperactivity of the amygdala, which leads them to react impulsively, without thinking.
2. Cognitive / emotional. It is about our interpretation of the situation, the emotional value and meaning we give it. Thus, emotions are a function of our thoughts, so that when a situation is interpreted as an obstacle, an injustice, an abuse or a lack of respect, we get angry. Thoughts like "this is intolerable" or "how dare you treat me this way?" they fuel anger and increase the chances that we lose control and react aggressively.
3. Behavioral. When we experience anger our instinctive reaction is to defend ourselves. Therefore, an internal energy is generated that pushes us to destroy the obstacle that has arisen. Aggression is one of several ways to express anger, and also one of the most destructive. But there are other behaviors that solve the problem without resorting to aggression.
Why do we lose control?
If you get angry and often lose control by reacting aggressively, the problem is likely to lie in your interpretation of the situation. The key may lie in how your brain processes situations.
A study by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago found that white matter in a region of the brain called the arcuate fascicle has a lower density and volume in people with intermittent explosive disorder than in "normal" individuals.
This region is in charge of connecting the frontal lobe, responsible for decision making, emotional control and the consequences of actions, with the parietal lobe, where language and sensory information are processed. In practice, it would be the highway that connects these different parts of the brain.
In addition, white matter is important because it promotes the connection and transmission of information in the brain. Therefore, these researchers found that the brains of people prone to anger would be "wired" differently.
This may be why people with anger problems tend to misunderstand the intentions of others in social interactions. They think others are hostile, and they draw wrong conclusions about their intentions. This misinterpretation further increases their anger.
It has also been shown that these people are unable to process all the details of social interactions, such as extra-verbal language or certain words. Basically, they only perceive signals that reinforce their belief that the other person is challenging them. Thus they respond aggressively to situations that would be neutral to others.
The problem in the connection between these lobes of the brain would affect the processing of social situations, leading these people to misunderstand the little clues that people send in interpersonal relationships.
How to learn to manage anger
Getting angry is not bad. In fact, we need to pay attention to this emotion and reflect on its origin. The key is in learning to manage our emotional, cognitive and behavioral reactions.
So, if you often get angry and lose control, the first step is to ask yourself if you are not misinterpreting the signals being sent by others. If we think the world is conspiring against us, we will probably only see the negative signs, ignoring the positive ones.
In fact, it has been noted that people who get angry often tend to have strong outbursts of anger, but the truth is that, during the day, they usually remain constantly in a state of irritability and frustration, which makes them real. time bombs ready to explode at the slightest stimulus.