Is Anger a Problem for You?
By Sloan Fabricius, MFT
You might be surprised to read that anger is a normal, healthy emotion and serves as a signal to meet a need. Like
the “check engine” light in your car, anger is important to your survival. However, when anger is a primary way
of coping, it becomes a problem. A chronic anger problem can be compared to the cycle of drug or alcohol
addiction and the shame often associated with it.
Those who lose control of their anger, particularly after they’ve promised themselves to not do so, can feel
ashamed and discouraged. That usually sets them up to repeat the cycle. Not being able to control one’s anger can
cause chronic health problems and depression, lead to violence or increased use of drugs or alcohol, and destroy
Anger has many causes and there are numerous situations that give rise to angry feelings. Stress, which is the
mismatch between demands made of us and the resources available to meet the demands, is a primary catalyst for
anger. Other feelings come into play as well when we react to stress such as low self-esteem, fear, frustration,
powerlessness, loneliness, and loss. One’s thoughts in reaction to a situation can fuel anger. Angry thoughts lead
to angry feelings.
Prone to anger
When interacting with others, we often feel entitled to have things go our way, or at the very least, to expect
fairness. But what if your definition of fairness in a particular situation is different from mine? What angry
thoughts might be prompted by a situation in which your minimal expectations are not met?
This simple checklist will give you clues about your own anger:
• People tell you that you need to calm down.
• You feel tense much of the time.
• At work or school, you find yourself not saying what is on your mind.
• When you are upset, you try to block the world out by watching TV,
reading a book, going to sleep or using drugs or alcohol.
• You have trouble falling asleep.
• You feel misunderstood o