When I observe anyone who is expressing anger with a behavior that is damaging to themselves or to others I personally feel their pain. There are many causes for the way we feel and express anger but they can be generally summed up with emotions or events:
- Embarrassment – not achieving a personal goal
- Loss of respect – shown by an invasion of space either verbally or physically
- Fear – feeling of inadequacy, not being enough,
- Shame – Not being happy with ourselves in a certain way, then projecting that on others.
- Sadness – Grieving over a loss and the unfairness of that loss to ourselves.
I am sure that there are other causes but these 5 sum up the majority of causes of anger. The most common one is Fear. That little reptilian part of our brain that causes us to react when we perceive an attack by either Freezing, Fighting or Fleeing causes some people to appear angry when in fact they are very scared underneath.
Learning about ourselves is the first step in managing our anger. Which one of these is creating our reactions? Do we show anger the most when we are embarrassed, disrespected, fearful, shamed, or sad? When we can identify what is happening within ourselves, then we can think about what is happening to others, including our children.
I have seen all of these situations and the causes can go very deep. In my own case it was not until I realized that the death of my father at a very early age was the part of the reason I was so quick to react to situations. Knowing this allowed me to look more deeply at myself and find other triggers. This is the work in anger management that I do now, helping others, including children to learn to recognize and communicate their personal triggers.