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Do You Know What Triggers Your Anger?

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Do You Know What Triggers Your Anger?

Do You Know What Triggers Your Anger?

A post from our Anger Management blog

      Written by Kerry Watts
All people have different perspectives, and react differently to triggers in their lives. For example, something that makes you incandescent with rage might not have any impact on your friend.

Anger is one of the eight basic human emotions so everyone feels it; some people are just better equipped to handle it. Understanding what triggers your anger is key to managing it well, and avoiding negative reactions.

One way to handle anger is to understand what your personal triggers are. For example, one of my friends has no patience with long lines, or waiting times, and finds them incredibly frustrating. All it takes is 10 minutes, before he becomes impatient and starts to lose his temper. Since the time he has become aware of this trigger, he has been making a concerted effort to avoid such situations; in effect, it means he has avoided anger.

As you can see, identifying triggers can be very effective and this process isn't too complicated.

What Are the Common Triggers?

 Some situations or actions can anger almost everyone, even those with a calm temperament. Here's a brief introduction to the different types of situations that can give rise to anger or frustration in almost anyone:

Unfair Treatment

 It's natural to feel anger when you're treated unjustly. Things like an unfair grade on a test, or a co-worker being given a promotion over you regardless of merit, inaccurate evaluation at work, etc., can all be considered triggers, because you perceive these to be unfair treatment. You can't control other people's biases or errors in judgment, but you can make them aware of these, through respectful conversation.

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 Pressure of Time

 We live in a busy world, where everyone is in a hurry and hard-pressed for time. This can lead to a number of frustrating situations. If you're running late and hit a traffic snare, anger is a natural response. Similarly, you don't want to attend to personal calls or messages while you're busy at work, but if a family member or a friend keeps bothering you, it can be quite frustrating.

Time is a valuable commodity and no one likes to waste it. The best way to handle these situations is to accept them. If you're running late, inform the people that are expecting you of the delay, and relax. If someone is disturbing you at work, tell them you're busy and that that you will call them once you have the time.

 Dishonesty and Disappointment

 This is one of the most challenging triggers, because you deal with a wide range of emotions along with anger. Unfortunately, some people in your life will lie to you or betray your trust, and anger is a natural response to that. Spouses can cheat, close friends can betray your trust, children may lie and hide things from parents, and a colleague may shift the blame of a mistake on to you.

These instances can happen on either a small scale or a larger one. For example, a friend betraying your trust or forgetting about your birthday can both give rise to anger, but the former is more serious than the latter. Your response needs to be proportionate to the mistake.

Threats to Self-Esteem or Pride

 Put-downs or insults are threats, and anger is an automatic response to situations such as these. Society expects people to be thick-skinned and not react to situations that can impact a person's self-esteem.

However, such attacks can have a negative impact on the person's mind even if they seem indifferent on the outside.  It's why most people respond to insults with anger.

This can be triggered if someone mocks you or maligns your character. In some cases, an embarrassing situation such as slipping or tripping accidentally can be the trigger. Whether anger is directed outwards or inwards, it's important to overcome the emotion and channel it someplace else.

Prejudice or Discrimination

 Injustices such as a prejudice or discrimination are intensely disturbing to people that face them and can compromise a person's self-esteem, affect their professional life and personal life, and even threaten their existence. Things like racism, sexism, classism, homophobia or discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, discrimination based on a person's appearance, religious beliefs, etc., can foster rage. Many people have turned this anger into something positive by starting revolutions or movements.

Being Attacked or Abused

 Physical or mental attacks can be traumatic and leave behind deep scars. Survivors of such painful circumstances have to deal with a number of psychological injuries and messy emotions. Anger, pain, and helplessness are often the result of abuse, regardless of the duration of it. Many victims suffer from PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, or depression.

The broad categories of abuse include child abuse, domestic violence, assault and battery, rape, sexual abuse, genocide, war, verbal threatening, random violence, etc.

Victims of long-term abuse can turn into abusers themselves, because the suppressed anger needs an outlet. Professionals can help victims find an outlet that doesn't harm anyone.

Determining What Triggers You

 Identifying personal triggers requires a certain amount of self-awareness. Most people don't even realize what makes them angry until they're in the middle of it, and therefore can't avoid the situation. Here are some tips that can help:
  • Recognize the signs of anger such as frustration, rapid breathing, tenseness, narrowed focus, etc. If you recognize the signs early enough, it is possible to remove yourself from the situation. Come up with a strategy for how to deal with things as you recognize them.
  • Maintain an anger diary or log where you can record all the triggers. This can help you work past unreasonable anger, especially if you're in a better temperament while noting the events down.
  • If loved ones or friends tell you that you have anger management issues, listen to them. They can have an unbiased perspective and would be able to recognize signs that you can't, when you're blinded by rage.
Identifying triggers helps people overcome anger management issues. My friend is more relaxed and carefree, less stressed, and has better control over his temper. While he does slip from time to time, recognizing triggers has helped him avoid conflict in both his professional and personal life.

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