Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~ The Buddha
Buddha had it right: when you hold onto anger, you are the one harmed – physically and emotionally.
How does anger harm me physically, you ask? The physiological reactions that occur in your body when you get angry are very similar to those that occur when you are stressed and anxious. Anger, stress and anxiety increase levels of “stress hormones” like cortisol, adrenalin, and norepinephrine. When you get angry, your endocrine system presses the alarm button and your body goes on autopilot. You begin producing hormones that increase your blood pressure and prepare the body for fight or flight.
You can Google the effects prolonged exposure to these hormones has on the body. It’s not pretty. Among them are memory issues, cardiovascular issues, and inflammation issues.
Anger and its associated hormones can increase your risk of depression, as well. Neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors are sensitive to these hormones and levels of serotonin and dopamine can be affected by them. When those are thrown off kilter, the ability to regulate your mood is also affected. Anger also has a negative effect on your relationships.
When you spout off in an angry way all the time, people around you associate you as a negative person and begin interacting with you differently. They avoid you, ignore you or start treating you with disdain because they are tired of hearing your anger. When that happens, you get angrier or depressed and you spout off more. And a pattern of unsatisfying interactions emerges.
Finding a way to express or release your anger in a way that keeps your blood pressure down and the stress hormones to a minimum is essential to overall life and relationship satisfaction – not to mention better physical health. If people around you start mentioning your negativity or they talk about you being angry all the time, you may want to look at making some changes.
If you have difficulty changing your anger response on your own, counseling is a good way to get support and skills to manage those intense emotions. Don’t let anger burn you out or burn down your relationships.