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When anger becomes a problem

Anger is not always a problem. This might seem strange to some but this is because of the confusion between the emotion anger and the behaviour that can occur with it. Anger is a natural emotion and helps to tell us that something is wrong. But how we go about trying to deal and fix what's wrong can lead to problems. Michael Currie’s book Doing Anger Differently: Helping Adolescent Boys gives a great list of indicators for thinking about is this feeling becoming a problem.
Aggression is some type of behaviour or act that is hostile and/or attacks someone. In lots of cases aggression can be caused by feeling angry. So an obvious indicator that anger is a problem is when it leads to aggressive behaviour. Just because we feel angry does mean it okay to attack others verbally or physically,or to damage others property.

Anger also becomes a problem when we begin to have a negative world view all the time. If we think everyone is out to get us and they are basically hostile towards us then this feeds our anger. This can happen in adolescents which can result in difficulty in keeping friendships (Currie, 2008 p. xvi). If it effects relationships with others then it is something that effect all aspect of life and so is a problem.

When angry we can overreact. A small 'slight' might trigger anger and an out of proportion response, basically ‘making a mountain out of a mole hill'. If minor things trigger really strong anger and/or the reactions are over the top then this indicates a problem.

With adolescents if there is constant fighting or arguments stemming from the anger then this is a problem. It might be impacting on parents or siblings. Although the person acting that way might not see it as an issue it sure can be for others.

If anger or the behaviour stemming from it creates problems in social or work settings (e.g. at school, work, sports clubs or in the general community) then this too signals that help is needed. By causing difficulties with other people or organisations in the wider community, this will have a negative impact on the type of relationships and life prospects we can expect.

It is amazing how we can at times blame everyone else or things for our problems and not see our own contribution to what happens to us. Anger can give us the energy to try and change things that are wrong but it can also blind us from seeing we are the ones that might need to change. We should use it as a signal to tell us that something needs to change. But we should never forget that sometimes it might be us in the wrong.

Currie, Michael. (2008). Doing Anger Differently: Helping Adolescent Boys. Carlton, Australia: Melbourne University Press
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