By Linda K. Laffey, MFT
Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes—but rarely leaves an individual unscathed. From one significant experience to a series of events, these moments can cause so much damage.
It only makes sense, then, that anger is a primary emotion people often feel after facing a traumatic experience. However, some people can’t seem to push their emotions past that particular sense of fury. They’re angry all the time.
Unfortunately, most individuals who experience this aren’t aware of the reasons for their ever-wrath. Sure, anger causes issues in romantic relationships, at work, or with friends and family members. Still, for so many people, the reason is unknown.
If this sounds like something you’re dealing with, take heart in knowing there’s a valid cause—trauma. Here are some clear signs that your anger is directly related to past trauma.
Anger Is a Masquerade
Although several studies have reported that 27 human emotions exist, some individuals only express a handful. Mainly this happens because those people don’t always recognize any other feelings besides those familiar few.
When you’ve dealt with trauma in the past, it can be challenging to identify your emotions. For starters, many people don’t trust their emotions; circumstances have proven that their feelings are flawed. Some “punish” themselves for feeling at all, especially when memories of past events arise.
Whether genuine emotions are ignored, drowned out, or forced into silence, anger is typically the feeling that spearheads all emotional activity. In short, anger is a facade. It masks other emotions when they feel too intense to face. Naturally, anger as a masquerade harms otherwise healthy relationships, fueling conflict and resentment.
Anger Stems from Hypervigilance
Trauma tends to force individuals into what’s known as “fight-or-flight” mode. Although this particular function of our autonomic nervous system benefited our ancestors, it can be a massive drawback for those suffering from trauma symptoms. Your mind senses some “danger”—often in the form of a memory or thought of the trauma—and your body reacts by preparing to either flee or battle the perceived threat.
While several calming techniques can “flip the switch” and activate the calm part of your autonomic nervous system, some people never learn how to do that.
You might find yourself stuck in a hypervigilant state of being. It’s not uncommon for anger to surface continually—even when there’s nothing honestly making you feel angry.
More than anything, your body is remembering the trauma and embracing those life or death emotions, which typically bubble up as rage or anger. As imagined, these manifestations don’t tend to go over well with others.
Anxiety Fuels Your Anger
Dealing with horrible memories from your past isn’t only saddening, but it’s also exhausting—emotionally, physically, and mentally. With so much weight on your shoulders, anxiety can far too easily find its way into your life.
Strangely enough, anxiety and anger don’t fall far from the same tree. It’s true; these emotions both induce the fight-or-flight mode. And both can keep you trapped in a cycle of negative thinking. Lastly, both feelings often manifest in harmful ways.
Anxiety symptoms diminish when you practice self-soothing techniques, such as breathing exercises, mindfulness, physical movement, etc. Angry feelings tend to follow suit, significantly declining as well. What this can do is promote healthy relationships, a thriving career, and hope for the future.
Take the first step…
If you are ready to address the trauma that may be negatively impacting your life, I would like to help. Please check out my page on trauma counseling and contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT