The Roots of Anger

When he was a kid, Navajo historian Wally Brown was taught NOT to cook food when angry. That’s because he heard that everyone who eats the food becomes angry too. He learned that anger is a contagious and destructive emotion.

Anger was something that was counseled against constantly by all of my different relatives. … It was very dangerous and evil. … It was something that would destroy your character, your identity, and your relationships. It was destructive to anything considered of value in your life. … When you expressed things in anger, it was things you could never take back; in words, in deeds, in actions.

We have all expressed anger at one time or another. And we all wish we could take back certain words and deeds.

How Can We Prevent Anger?

To prevent anger, first we must pinpoint what is causing it. Here are seven possible roots of anger.

  • Stress: All the pressures of life weigh on our shoulders. We don’t know where to channel the strain. Anger becomes an easy outlet.
  • Frustration: We have certain expectations in our lives. But then we hit roadblocks or challenges and can’t meet those expectations. We feel disappointed, which leads to anger.
  • Injustice: We feel unfairly treated. Others may discriminate, oppress, hurt or betray us. (Even those who love us!) A common response is to feel anger.
  • Grief and Loss: One of the common stages of grief is anger. It’s a normal response to an abnormal event.
  • Fear: We may perceive a threat or danger to ourselves or our family. Anger is how we might respond to protect the ones we love.
  • Physical Pain: Frequent or chronic pain makes us more irritable. Because of that we’re more prone to anger.
  • Mental Health: Anger can sometimes result from an underlying mental health condition. That could include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, or obsessive compulsive disorder (ODC).

Everyone responds differently to these experiences, but anger is a common response.

Wally Brown advises that when you experience anger, separate yourselves from everyone else for a period of time. Take a walk. Take a breather. Take a time out. Be by yourself. Evaluate what has caused you to be angry and why you lost your temper.

Learn other ways to Keep Your Cool.