In my last post, I talked about how the brain functions when we become angry. Before I begin providing strategies for dealing with angry emotions, I should tell you the benefits of knowing this information because, generally, this knowledge can be used to prepare, prevent and recover from amygdala hijackings (intense anger episodes–see previous post).
Understand your triggers
First, if you can understand how you are triggered, you can strategize ahead of time about the ways to deal with your anger. Preparing in this way allows you to be more in charge of your emotions and lessens the potential for an amygdala hijacking.
Second, your knowledge of biochemical responses in the brain during anger helps you understand what happens as others experience an episode, which may help you to know how to help more effectively with his or her anger management.
Third, as you realize that you need to be more in the cortex and less in the limbic area of the brain, you are open to learn techniques that will help toward that goal.
So, when you are knowledgeable and intentional with this process of anger information, you can succeed.
Stopping the flood of anger hormones
When a person can quickly take control of his or her emotional reactions because he or she understands the biochemical processes, it is possible to prevent, or at least lessen, the hormonal flood.
I think it also helps to understand why people around us behave so immaturely when angry.
When a child or adult is highly emotional, he (she) is less able to think clearly because the limbic area of the brain is the primary source of his response. It follows that since he is not in the cortex, where reason and judgment exist, his response will likely be an impulsive one. Consequently, at that time, he is not focused on anyone else’s rights, needs, feelings or perspectives, because in that moment, he is egocentric and self-focused.
An angry adult does act much like an immature child. I am quite sure that individuals who later discover they have been in that immature place did not intend to act immaturely. No doubt, they can regret their behavior, particularly if consequences were damaging or volatile.
Knowledge is the first step toward change
So, our goal in providing this information is to help you understand, prepare for, prevent and deal with anger through a clear awareness and understanding of what is really going on inside your brain and body.
Hopefully, this knowledge will allow each of us to be more patient and instructive with those who are angry and more intentional about preventing our own angry outbursts. Once we have this clarity, I believe it will be much easier to integrate appropriate techniques to deal with this prominent societal problem.
Imagine, if we all had this knowledge and were working diligently to prevent anger outbursts, how different the impact would be to so many of our social problems! If we can help our parents, children, friends and community leaders to understand the real causes of anger, then I believe we really can work from a position of knowledge integrity. We help our society with a significant issue faced by our children, families and community at large.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Some information taken from Understanding Anger, 2004, Diane Wagenhals.