More than an Emotion

Dear Reader,

Do you get upset easily? When I’m stressed, I’m more easily affected by any sort of small annoyance. However, today, I became truly angry because of an argument. Anger is not an emotion that I experience frequently. Usually, I range from mildly amused to mildly upset. The anger that I felt today came as a surprise. The feeling was so foreign to me, in fact, that I decided to google “anger” because I was so fascinated by it.

I started with a dictionary search for “anger” first to get things off the ground. According to Merriam Webster, anger is a “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism.” Considering what I felt earlier, I feel that this definition of anger is a bit too mild. I then went to Wikipedia, and found anger defined as, “an intense emotional state. It involves a strong uncomfortable and hostile response to a perceived provocation, hurt or threat.” This is certainly more fitting for my recent experience. 

Anger, for me, actually felt more like a physical state rather than a simple emotion. I read more into this. Anger manifests physically as a response to a perceived threat or injury. Anger, when intense, can give you a physical burst of energy. Your sympathetic nervous system accelerates your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels, and raises your blood pressure in preparation for a fight-or-flight response. Your body is on high-alert, but your prefrontal cortext, responsible for your brain’s judgement capacities, has not yet had time to process the threat. This makes you liable to take deliberate, immediate action, seemingly without thinking.

For these reasons, when we are angry we are far more liable to do something that we may regret than when we are not angry. Have you ever said some nasty words or even have thrown a punch in the heat of the moment? While there are no “real” excuses for our bad behavior, at least there is some biochemical evidence to suggest that other factors may have contributed to our actions.
Anger, however, like any other action, can also become a habit. Anger leaves us with a sense of excitement that sometimes lasts for a while after the outburst and can even lower our threshold for anger. This can make it easier for us to get angry as time goes on. So the next time we are peeved, we can more easily slip into an angry state. Anger is a poison, but there is a cure.

Forgiveness. It sounds cliche, but forgiveness really does matter. It is like a pool of cold water over a simmering bed of fire. Were you ever forced to say ‘sorry’ when you were little? Perhaps back then you did not feel the relief that true forgiveness can bring, but as an adult feeling sorry and actually expressing it can seriously help correct your biochemical state.

It is never good to feel bad. It is also never good to make others feel bad because you are feeling bad. After writing this, I can feel myself slowly returning to my normal mild-mannered self. I hope you are doing okay today, Dear Reader. Actually, I take that back, I hope you are doing better.



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