When you are treated unfairly—when someone wrongs you, or worse, betrays you—you are likely to get angry. You wonder how that person could have ever done that terrible thing to you. In fact, you can’t imagine how, because you would have never done it to him. And the thing he has done is something you perceive as a threat to your well-being.
You can experience a wide range of anger, from being mildly irritated to feeling intense hatred and rage. Your physical reaction is likely to be on a similar continuum. Your heart rate will increase. Your blood pressure will go up. Your adrenaline will rush in to prepare your body to respond.
Anger After Trauma
When a monumental wrong has taken place—a truly traumatic event—you will no doubt feel anger, too. Often these events have no one single person as the perpetrator, for example, when a tornado destroys your home. So it’s hard to know what to do with your anger. The event alone is an assault on your emotions. But after the worst of it is over, and you are left to recover, you may find you’re angry.
You are not alone. It’s a very normal response to the terrible injustice that you have suffered. The problem comes when anger overtakes you and prevents you from healing. When you understand the source of your anger, you have a better chance to accept it and move on.
Anger When Feeling Helpless
One of the problems of a trauma is your sense of control has been upended. In the case of a tornado, your home—the one that you worked so hard to provide—is no longer the bulwark of protection for your family. You no longer have a safe place for your children. You are totally off-balance.
When you are feeling helpless, try to find company of like-minded individuals who have suffered similarly. When you hear how they feel about the trauma, you can get some perspective on your own feelings. And possibility, at some point, you can work together to do some good that is directly related to the tragedy you suffered.
Anger in the Face of Loss
After her sister died of cancer at an early age, my friend was angry with her sister. This made no sense. It wasn’t her sister’s fault she died of cancer. But my friend was angry that her sister abandoned her. She stayed angry with her sister and the injustice of it all because the pain of loss was just too hard to address. Eventually, over time, she was able to let go of that anger and start the grieving process.
Anger is Universal
Everyone gets angry from time to time, so there’s no reason to be ashamed of your anger. It’s how you react to your anger that counts. Does your face turn red? Do your veins protrude? Do you start yelling at ever-higher decibels? Do you slam doors and stomp off? Truth to tell, that kind of physical reaction can feel pretty good in the moment.
But what if you took a deep breath, and maybe even a time out. What if you thought about the reasons behind your anger before you acted? What if you understood the source of your anger? Sometimes anger can even be a positive thing if it motivates you to right the wrongs that caused your anger.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.