Are you a hothead? Ever experienced steam from the ears, a blazing face or a torrent of words soon regretted? That’s it.
Just in case this is not you, be forewarned. Research reveals that hidden anger can be just as detrimental to your health as it is for the hotheads among us.
When two groups of healthy people are compared, one confessing to anger issues, Dr. Dave Montgomery of the Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta (WebMD) asserts that this single factor, anger, affects future wellness. In fact, this group is 19% more likely to develop heart disease than the “non-angry” group. So what about those individuals who are unaware of their anger?
I’m Not Mad…
Since hidden anger is just as deadly as self-confessed anger, health professionals are attempting to promote awareness. Several experts including Dr. Gregory L Jantz Ph.D., founder of A Place for Hope, have developed various checklists for self-evaluation. (Psychology Today and All About Counseling) Here are just a few signs for consideration:
-Frequent sighing or clearing the throat
-Irritability or grumbling
-Overly controlled monotone speaking voice or excessively precise diction
-Clenching or grinding of the teeth
I’m Not Mad, I Just Have Problems…
Anger causes pain. Popping Advil may help but merely treating pain isn’t enough. We should strive to unearth any root cause.
- Identify It
I was diagnosed with clinical depression over ten years ago. Medication has helped immensely but, periodically it is not enough. My ever-helpful and sometimes infuriating psychiatrist informed me that unresolved anger can contribute to depression. Angry? Me?
- Analyze it.
Middle age has also driven me to dental specialists. It seems that I have exceptionally strong jaws due to regular workouts by clenching. Three cracked teeth suggest I have been processing stress in a silent but destructive manner. Stressed? Me? Ok, but I’m not angry am I?
It took some digging but I found it. I’m mad about getting old. I’m mad because I can’t run anymore. Heck, walking causes pain. I’m mad about the teeth that keep cracking up. Ok, I sometimes clench because I’m mad at discourteous drivers. And I’m mad about…oh, I forget what else I’m mad about… Oh yes, I’m mad about losing my memory! Do you blame me?
Thoughtful analysis revealed that I have unrealistic selfish expectations. In the absence of “blow up” expressions of anger, I minimized my true emotions and sabotage the proper processing (and perhaps healing) of them.
- Deal with it
This is the embarrassing part. Here it is. I am not in control of the universe. I cannot defy the aging process or traffic laws. Even my temperament was imparted to me at birth. Resentment accomplished nothing but further destroying my middle aged health. What to do…
I need serenity. I pray:
Lord, help me to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and for wisdom to know the difference (Reinhold Niebuhr).
Anger is hard-wired in our DNA and can be appropriate and even helpful. Nevertheless, a healthy dose of self-awareness and serenity can stave off self-abuse.