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What Is Anger?

Have you ever wondered “what is anger?” Does anger have a purpose? Find out why anger exists and what it does in your life.

Anger Is A Basic Human Emotion

At a very basic level, anger is an emotion. Researchers have found there are generally 8 basic emotions that every person experiences. Can you name these 8 basic emotions?

According to Robert Plutchik the 8 emotions that are hard wired into you are joy, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust, anticipation, trust, and anger. These emotions are simply a part of being human. At some point in your life you will probably feel one of these emotions.


By Machine Elf 1735Own work, Public Domain, Link

Your emotions have an important role to play in your life. They have evolved to help you survive. Take fear as an example. Fear can alert you about a dangerous situation. Suppose you stumbled across a bear in the woods and didn’t experience fear. You would have no reason to get out of that situation. It could be a potentially life threatening situation.

Your emotions usually compel you to do something in your life. Using our example with the bear, your fear would probably compel you to turn around and run for your life! The emotion of fear helped you survive.

The Purpose Of Anger

Now that you know your emotions have a purpose, you might be wondering “what is the purpose of anger?”

Anger is an emotion that urges you to take action. In the right situations your anger can serve a good purpose. Lets use an example where most people might agree that anger would be okay. 

Lets pretend you see an adult mistreating your child. Your instinct is probably to run over and protect your kid. Most people would agree that your anger in this situation was justified. The purpose of your anger was to protect someone you care about.

In the right situations your anger can serve a functional purpose. The problem is that your anger can easily become destructive in the wrong situation.

Your Behavior Is How You Express Anger

anger management denverOnce you feel the emotion of anger you want to do something about it. How you express this feeling is your behavior. This is where anger an either be helpful or destructive.

If your behavior is expressed in a way that is unacceptable you can have some negative consequences to deal with. 

Let’s imagine a scenario that is all too common. You’re driving down the road, someone cuts you off and you have to slam on your breaks. Most people would agree this is a frustrating situation.

If you express your frustration by speeding up, following the car that cut you off, or getting out of your car to yell at the person, you are expressing your anger in a way that isn’t socially acceptable. While it’s understandable that you’re upset, this type of behavior can get you in trouble.

There Are Different Levels Of Anger

One reason anger can get you in trouble is if you assume anger is an “on or off” emotion. In reality anger is an emotion you feel at different levels. An easy way to help with this is thinking of anger on a scale from 1 to 10.

  1. Alert
  2. Stirred
  3. Annoyed
  4. Frustrated
  5. Angry
  6. Worked Up
  7. Fuming
  8. Vicious
  9. Furious
  10. Violent

It’s important to recognize the different levels of anger. Your anger becomes destructive when it’s too high. The more intense your anger feels, the more dangerous it becomes.

Allowing your anger to get too high also means it’s going to take more time to cool down. It takes longer to relax when you’re furious than it does when you’re frustrated.

An important first step to controlling your anger is understanding that it’s an emotion with many different degrees of intensity.

Anger Management Helps You Understand What Is Anger

Once you understand why your anger exists, its purpose, and how it functions, you have the ability to control it.

Most people have moments in life when they let their anger get too intense. You lost control, you said something you regret, or you did something you can’t take back.

If this is happening too often it can be very destructive. If your anger is getting too intense on a regular basis you are at risk of getting into trouble. If it’s happening too often other people may not want to be around you.

If you are are asking yourself “do I need anger management counseling?” it’s probably worth talking with a professional. They can help you better understand why this emotion is happening so often, and help you find ways to prevent it from being destructive.

As a Denver anger management counselor I often begin helping people control their anger by recognizing the impact anger is having on their life. To begin controlling your anger you first have to recognize it’s function, and what role it’s playing in your life.

Take Control of Your Anger

Talk with a Denver anger management expert to find out how to control your anger. 

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Denver Therapist

Cody Mitts, MA, NCC

Cody is a therapist located in Denver, Colorado that helps people recover from the negative experiences in life. He specializes in problems related to anger, anxiety and dealing with the effects of trauma and abuse.

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Ipseity Counseling Clinic

Ipseity Counseling Clinic is a Denver counseling practice dedicated to helping people overcome the painful parts of life. We focus on empowering you to live confidently and with purpose!

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