At a correct amount, anger is healthy and normal, but if you get angry too often and regularly experience explosive emotions, it isn’t healthy. Those with aggressive anger are not only intensely angry, but also tend to be very hostile and uncooperative. Healthy, normal anger is vastly different from aggression and hostility. Anger is essentially a sign that something is wrong with you or your environment. Hostility is an enduring and a more pervasive antagonistic mental attitude. Hostile behaviors can actually be expressed or unexpressed anger that have failed to cause desired changes. Aggressive behaviors are often directed to others, with the intention to do harm, physically or emotionally. A good way to make a distinction between aggression, hostility and anger is that aggression is an intention to do harm, hostility is an ill will and anger is just an emotion.
It is normal to experience aggressive impulse when we feel being threatened, but it is necessary to find a good way to contain or release them. For example, a driver may cut you on a highway and adrenalin is pumped into your bloodstream instantly. Your initial fear quickly turns to anger. If your anger is uncontrolled, you may rev up the engine and cut him back, so he will feel the same emotion. However, retaliation can trigger a corresponding aggressive behavior. Many cases of road rages are caused by direct response to aggressive drivers.
In this case, you should try your best to control your impulse and prevent it from becoming an aggressive behavior. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to do. As soon as you see a threat and the adrenaline affects your judgment, it is a one-way street. All reasons are irrelevant. Your focus is only to get back on the one who threatened you, regardless of how costly it will be. Sometimes innocent bystanders or even your loved ones can become unintended collateral casualties. We inherit aggressive impulse from our ancestors, it was actually intended as a defensive mechanism. However, modern men often abuse it by pervasively and frequently act on this impulse. If aggressiveness is your primary anger style, often you’ll engage continuously with others because you expect threats from all direction and retaliation to others’ aggressive behaviors.
Many early psychiatrists believe that the inability to channel aggressive impulse is a dangerous situation, because it can wreak havoc and endanger others. However, they were only partly correct. Sometimes, if we find ways to ventilate our aggression, we have the desire to keep it going. It is more likely on people with aggressive personality or anger style. Although your initial intention is only to release the pent-up tension, you may actually be priming the pump. Venting your anger can be an addictive experience, which can cause you to feel the need to ventilate more. It happens because aggressive anger tends to increase frustration and not decrease it.
You may feel better after aggressively releasing your anger. The quick release of pent-up emotion can feel like a relief. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last very long. Venting you anger aggressively may create new problem and hurt other people, either physically or emotionally. Reacting aggressively (e.g. blaming, controlling, hitting walls, throwing things and yelling) can hurt others’ feeling. You may also damage their self-esteem and frighten them. After an aggressive anger, people may put some distance from you or even respond by assaulting you physically.
Additionally, after your anger subsides, you can experience shame and guilt. If you hurt someone you love emotionally, guilt often rears its ugly head after you recognize how your actions and words affect him/her, your wife cries in her sleep and your child looks at you with fear. After hurting someone physically, you may feel terrible each time you see the result of your aggressiveness, like bruised arm of your child or your friend’s blackened eye. Research shows that people with aggressive anger are more likely to have hypertension, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.
In general, high-anger individuals are three times more likely to develop angina or have a heart attack than low-anger individuals, even after risky influences such as genetic factors, alcohol, weight, cholesterol, hypertension and smoking are taken into account on low-anger individuals. This reflects the experience of many psychologists and doctors who find a direct correlation between overall health risks and intense anger. In general, a hostile individual is at higher risk of other diseases as well. It happens due to reasons like indulgence to risky behaviors and increased biological activity when intensely angered and experiencing low social support.
People who regularly feel aggressiveness and hostility, should keep track of the intensity of their emotions by keeping a record of each aggressive urge or action (e.g. to slam a door or blow your car horn), angry thought (e.g. thinking others is stupid or incompetent) or angry feeling (e.g. face getting red and hot). Aggressive urges or acts can range from mild and harmless (frowning at someone who refuses to get in line) to extreme actions (physically assaulting the person). Before going to bed, you should review your entries each day and you may be surprised at how aggressive you are today.
Although releasing your anger aggressively can have serious consequences, it can be a difficult habit to give up due to a feeling of temporary relief. So, what should you do when the adrenaline starts to pump and you feel intense anger? It is necessary to find a healthy outlet to allow a proper release of anger. Many people find that high-intensity sports are good for releasing excess anger energy, such as swimming, racquetball, basketball or running at faster pace on treadmill. Those who are competitive and experience extreme anger should engage in an individual sport to prevent physical skirmishes which will further increase the anger. Individual sports may include hitting some balls, play one-person racquetball, practice a tennis game or shoot hoops. It is inadvisable to do wrestling and boxing to vent your anger because they may reinforce your aggressiveness. You should also find a relaxing and calming physical activities and it would also be helpful to write down your angry emotions as a secondary way to vent your anger. Instead of yelling something nasty to others, you should write them down. It is a rare moment where you shouldn’t censor yourself and just let everything out. After you’ve written hateful things are that going through your mind, you can tear up the paper.