How does your body let you know you are angry and what happens to your body if you ignore it’s warnings? Do you remember the story of the inattentive and unwitting frog who was placed in a beaker of cold water? The beaker was placed over a Bunsen burner so that the temperature slowly rised until, the frog unaware of his slow demise, was boiled alive.
What was that frog thinking? Clearly, it was not paying attention to the warning signs. In my experience many people approach life in much the same way. Often the people closest to us know we are angry long before we become aware of its presence. How can that be? Anger betrays itself in subtle ways such as the way you gesture or a slight grimace, and the people who know you best are familiar with your body’s repertoire.
Why do you fail to notice the warning signs of anger?
- Anger is an uncomfortable feeling, and you have worked very hard since childhood to ignore it.
- People raised in a strongly religious family, may hold the belief that anger is ‘a sin’.
- You learnt that anger is inappropriate or unacceptable because anger was never expressed in your family of origin and/or you were punished for being angry.
How do you fail to notice the warning signs of anger?
- Distract by keeping busy
- Disconnect from yourself emotionally
- Deny your anger by rigid, critical and controlling behaviour
What are the warning signs of anger to notice?
1. Frustration and/or anxiety These feelings are inviting you to resolve the issue that has triggered the strong emotions.
2. Tension Your muscles tighten, sending you the message that you have not resolved the problem that has already been causing feelings of frustration and /or anxiety.
Tension can be produced in any part of the body – headaches, chest pain, back pain and abdominal pain may be indications that your body is holding tension as a result of repressed anger.
3. Physical and mental illness Physically your blood pressure, blood glucose and heart rate may become abnormal, increasing physical pain, sweating and difficulty breathing are all part of the body’s warning system.
Mentally, unacknowledged anger becomes internalised causing depression.