ANGER – one of the most common emotional state experienced by us on day-to-day basis. Some people even identify themselves as “angry young fellow.” I have seen many knowledgeable people find a pride in it. Around ten years back – I was among them. Believe me anger never served me well.
Study showed a 3-fold increase in Heart Attack & related disease risk among individuals with the greatest difficulty controlling their anger as compared with those with the least.
High level of anger is associated with high intensity of catecholamine secretion – means more damage to the heart and blood vessels. It increases the heart rate and create issues with the rhythm of the heart. Increased catecholamine in blood in anger increases biological phenomenon such as platelet aggregation, lipid mobilization and damage to the inner layer of the blood vessels. These all-in combination leads to atherosclerosis – means blockage inside the arteries and cause heart attack, stroke and related diseases.
Anger is found to be one of the triggers that causes rupture of atherosclerotic plaque inside heart arteries.
This leads to sudden blockage of the artery. The area that gets supplied by the artery is damaged due to lack of oxygen. The heart muscles start dying and heart attack happens. Scientific studies have found anger to be the one such trigger of myocardial infarction.
Anger can lead to sudden rise in blood pressure and heart rate.
Those patients of heart failure – whose heart muscles are weak, the sudden rise in blood pressure and heart rate may lead to heart failure and shortness of breath.
Bottomline anger and anger ruminations are not good for the heart health.
What happens in our brain & body during the anger?
Brakes are missing. Our brain has brakes in the orbital frontal cortex. When the animal brain fires (Amygdala) without the any brake from orbital frontal cortex – the uncontrolled spiraling anger ensues. This is not an issue inside our brain – rather with behavior and practice such issues can be solved.
So. Basically in anger we let our animal brain move into the action without putting a chain around its neck.
No surprise that so many unwanted situations arise everyday in the realm of anger. It activated the excitatory nervous system of our body that leads to increased heart rate and blood pressure.
It leads to all unwanted effects on our body. Anger is losing a high amount of energy to something or someone, that is almost always not useful.
Why we become angry or ruminate anger from days?
Anger happens. It’s a useful energy if we can moderate it. Following are the reasons why anger happens –
- Expectation mismanagement – It is nothing short of sitting on explosives if we mismanage our expectation. Meeting is going to happen – mostly our expectation may be very high in either positive or negative direction. In addition to those explosives, we also arrange an army of conformation bias. We make sure or at least keep the desire that those who are entering in the meeting with us – mostly should agree with us. That brings more bias and rigidity of thinking none the less. I repeat – a rigid expectation is nothing short of a pile of explosives.
- Past predictions – We have experiences from our past that of “X” happens then “Y” will always happen. Someone who look alike a person whom we hate, some events or situation which look alike an event which we absolutely dislike – happens before or during a meeting. What happens? Ha.. Ha… Ha.. Again Explosion. Our past impressions and memories of undesired experiences often enter into our present day. These impressions can make us behave in a certain way that may not have anything to do with present situation. Yet we may repeat ourselves accordingly and the outcome repeats too. A cycle of anger and despair goes on. It strengthens our trigger of anger
What to do?
Anger takes away the opportunity to learn & grow in our lives. We can use the energy of anger to do something useful. The anger is the outcome of misdirected and mismanaged “rigid expectation”.
- Keep your options open and remain flexible to learn new things.
- Be aware that people with different opinions on your side can make a meeting more successful.
- Learn from your “anger events”. Ask why for at least 3 to 5 times to yourself that – why you became angry in those events? What self-management was lacking? What improvements can you make to make things better in the future?
- Relax just before a meeting and know your expectations may or may not be fulfilled. Only thing you can do is give it a best shot and learn as things move ahead.
- Do meditate daily. It will increase the power of the brake – “orbital frontal cortex” – of your brain.
- Find your common triggers of anger and frustrations and do journaling about it.
Anger is just an expression of energy that we hold. But it is a misdirected energy to the world or to the people or event. We can’t do anything about these people – even if we stay angry for rest of our lives. Only thing we can learn of manage our expectation and learn from the undesired situation to upgrade ourselves in life. We can always manage ourselves – that is one hundred percent in our hands. Self-awareness, mediation and journaling would surely help.