We all know what anger looks like: your face turns red, you scowl, and maybe you yell or threaten violence. Anger can cause a lot of problems: no one likes to be around someone who’s always angry.
A simple definition for this issue is that people get angry because they care very strongly about something that is denied them, and they don’t know what to do. Anger is a reaction of last resort, a sign of desperation. Anger is an indicator that a person doesn’t feel in control of a situation.
Teenagers, understandably, have a tendency to get angry. The second decade of life is filled with all kinds of new desires and aspirations, yet young people often lack the resources to effectively pursue those goals. With all of their dreams being unmet, it’s natural for them to feel angry. As they get older, they learn what they can do about the desires they care about. They take on more and more responsibility for their lives, and get to decide what they want to do.
However, not everyone learns to take control of their lives, and everyone has moments when they feel powerless. Everyone gets angry, but most people only get angry in certain situations–typically the situations they understand the least. A person who is angry about everything, all the time, probably feels like they are not in control of their lives.
When you get angry, it can be helpful to ask, “What do I want from this situation? What am I trying to accomplish?” so that you can focus your efforts on the things you can control.
Anger can often be an effective last-ditch effort, because it motivates a person to exert themselves more than they otherwise would. However, anger can often be problematic: this emotional surge of effort makes it hard for a person to think. For example, in a fight an angry person might overwhelm their opponent, but they’re also liable to attack too boldly and expose themselves to a counterattack. In more peaceful settings, anger can make a person do things they’ll regret later. On the other hand, a total absence of anger might mean that a person has no strong feelings at all. It’s important to have values and passions, and a passionate person always runs the risk of becoming angry when they suffer reverses. In these situations it’s important to control your anger so that you can focus on what you really want to do.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
What do you care about most in life, and what makes you angry? Do you see a correlation between the two?
In general, were you an angrier person as a teenager? (If you’re a teenager now, were you less angry before you became a teenager?)
Do you know any adults who are commonly angry? What do you think is the root of their anger?
What are some of the negative consequences of anger that you’ve observed?
Anger is a common response to difficult or frustrating situations. It can be expected that people who feel very strongly about certain things are more likely to become angry when they meet severe frustration; nonetheless it’s important for everyone to be able to control their anger.