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Anger

Intro

When dealing with life, Bobby McFerrin in his 1988 hit song says "Don't worry. Be Happy." When a warrior is dealing with an attacker, a better mantra would be “Don’t worry. Be angry.”

Nature of anger

Anger is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by physiological and biological changes. When you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline.

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors that allow the body to prepare itself for either "flight or fight." Flight involves running for your life using the excess energy you have created by your anger. Fight means you engage in a physical confrontation with your adversary. 

A certain amount of anger is necessary for our survival. If you do not flee or fight but just stand there and take the punishment, then your body will have to deal with the excess energy internally, which leads to mental and physical health problems.

Anger can be caused by both external and internal events. You could be angry with a specific person such as a coworker or supervisor, an event such as a traffic jam or a canceled flight, or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events may also trigger angry feelings.

Angry people show changes in their thinking. Typically, angry people become "single-minded," focusing exclusively on what they believe is provoking them.

Anger control problems tend to be associated with several problems in the thinking process, such as:
  • Cognitive deficits. People with anger control problems have an insufficient number of adaptive responses to provoking events. Research has shown that angry people, when asked how they would solve provocative situations, have fewer ideas than people without anger problems. Not surprisingly, the few ideas they have tend to be hostile.
  • Frequent false positives. People with anger control problems often misconstrue events such that they feel provoked even when they are not being provoked. People with anger control problems tend to be vigilant for the presence of people deliberately hassling them. Therefore, due to only seeing part of the picture, they tend to misconstrue innocuous behavior.
  • Rigid beliefs. People with anger control problems often hold steadfast beliefs as to the legitimacy of hostile retaliation. Some examples include, "The best way to get your needs met is to demand them," or "People are, for the most part, stupid and need to be dealt with forcefully." It is not difficult to imagine how adhering to such beliefs might lead to some volatile encounters.
  • Difficulty anticipating outcomes before action. People without anger problems can control how they respond to anger and keep it from getting out of control by predicting what could happen if they lost control. People with anger problems tend to respond quickly without much forethought.
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