From our body
Our bodies give biological clues that our anger is building. Tuning in to these clues can alert us to take action to get away from the slippery slope of becoming enraged. Here are some of the physical signs that show we’re on a path toward rage:
- Knot in the stomach feeling
- Heart pounding
- Face feels warm and flushed
- Faster, shallower breath
- Tight muscles
- Racing mind
These changes happen in our body because our brain perceives a threat and responds by stimulating our adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline into our blood stream. Adrenaline is the superhero-like power hormone that allows us to do things like lift up a car to save our child trapped underneath. It also speeds our heart rate, increases respiration, and sharpens our mind and senses — readying us for fight or flight.
Generally, we are unaware of these biological responses to our emotions, especially when we are in the middle of having a powerful threat reaction. If noticing in the moment is too hard, replay in your mind those times when you felt really angry. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll remember, even after the fact. Click the button below for more on this.
From our actions
Before we get to full-blown rage, our actions often warn us we are headed out of control. It may feel like we go from zero to 60 pretty quickly, but there is usually a progression of things that lead up to a physical skirmish with a partner. Noticing these actions early, and then changing course while we still have a better decision-making mindset, helps us avoid becoming enraged. Here are some signs that we’re on a path toward rage:
- Saying something hurtful, critical, or sarcastic
- Raised voice or yelling
- Physically animated or tense, perhaps jumping up out of a chair, pacing back and forth, or leaving the room only to return with something else to say
- Physical reactions such as slamming a door, pounding your fist on the table, throwing something, or kicking an object like a chair or wall
As with our biological responses to our emotions, identifying our actions in the heat of the moment is tough. But by replaying the incident when you felt really angry in your mind, you’re likely to remember much of what happened. Try to identify the things you did after you became angry but before you completely lost control. As you think about different times when you became angry, see if you can find a pattern.
Reflecting on our actions when we are calm allows us time to process what happens and identify the warning signs. Click the button below for more.