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People tend to have one way, or maybe a few particular ways, of reacting to situations that anger them. For example, at work you may get angry and react one way to being ignored when you ask someone a question, while you react in a totally different way when the same thing happens at home. Below are examples of anger patterns. Some of them may be similar to your cycle(s) of anger.
Withdrawl/Isolation. Anger may result in withdrawing from others or isolating. In many cases there is no communication about your anger with others. Thus, when you are angry with someone, the other person may never know because you withdraw and/or isolate yourself.
Some people use their anger as an excuse to withdraw. In other words, they find something to get angry about as an excuse to work themselves up into a bad mood so others will stay away. Other people naturally avoid being around the angry person. As a result, the angry person is easily able to withdraw/isolate. By deliberately becoming angry, they set up the situation in order to keep others away.
Yelling/Shouting. Anger may result in yelling at others and having a shouting match. This behavior almost always puts the other person(s) on the defensive. The problem that caused the anger is seldom resolved and the anger continues. You may even end up calling the other person names.
Threats. Tn some situations, individuals get angry and think they can solve their problems by threatening to harm other people or their property. Threats are especially powerful when made against people who are afraid of the angry person, and may be powerful with strangers. Threats can lead to physical fighting.
Some people like to fight when they get angry. When they get angry and want to fight they try to provoke others into fighting by making challenges or threatening the other person. When you feel bad about yourself, you may even pick a fight as a way of feeling more powerful than the other person, as a way of feeling better when the targeted person caves in to your threats.
Shoving/Slapping/Punching. Some people get angry and immediately lash out at others. They may shove, slap, or punch the person they are angry at to hurt the other person or make the person feel scared or bad. Often, this reaction is out of fear. By lashing out physically, the hope is to push the other person away, or to make the person do what you want. Shoving, slapping, and punching is the way some people try to have power and control over others. People who hit, slap, and/or punch often have low impulse control. In other words they have a short fuse.
Violence. In its extreme form, anger is expressed in violent acts. It is deliberate and forceful. Physical fighting is violence. Repeatedly hitting, punching, beating or trying to run someone over with a car is violence. Violence in its extreme form can and often does result in death.
Many people demonstrate a combination of these patterns. These patterns all begin with warning signs that you are becoming angry. These warning signs are a part of the anger cycle that each of us experiences; they include thoughts, feelings (both physical and emotional), and behaviors as we described earlier.
As you begin to explore your patterns of anger, pay special attention to the cues, or warning signs, that you are getting angry.
Reflection Exercise #10
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