How anger hijacks your brain.

The human brain, a marvel of nature, is an intricate organ that orchestrates our daily existence.

A three-pound, jelly-like mass teeming with neurons, it’s responsible for consuming a substantial 20% of our body’s energy. Essentially, it serves as the command center of our being, allowing us to navigate the complexities of life.

Yet, despite its remarkable capabilities, our brain is not without its quirks. Its paramount function, above all else, is to ensure our survival, a legacy from our caveman ancestors.

In those bygone days, threats were clear-cut – predatory animals, harsh weather, or the occasional confrontation with a fellow cave-dweller.

The brain’s response was straightforward: assess the situation’s emotional cues as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral, and take action accordingly – approach, avoid, or ignore.

This primitive survival mechanism, though ancient, still persists within us, often causing our brains to react similarly to modern, non-life-threatening situations.

So, what happens when a car rudely cuts us off in traffic, our mother-in-law offers unsolicited parenting advice, or we learn that skinny jeans are facing criticism?

In those moments, our heart races, our breath quickens, and we become utterly fixated on these seemingly trivial matters.

The reason? Our brains, in their eternal quest to protect us, can’t always distinguish between genuine physical threats and these emotional responses.

In this exploration, we’ll delve into how anger, in particular, hijacks our brain, shedding light on this curious phenomenon that still persists in our socially complex world.

What Is Outrage?

When people lose their temper, it’s akin to what felines do when they purr, or bears when they snarl, or even gorillas when they beat their chests. It’s an instinctual display of subtle violence, a way of saying, “back off.”

The moment you erupt in anger, blood rushes out of the more rational, human part of your brain and floods into the more primal, reptilian part. In that instant, rational thinking takes a backseat. You become incapable of having a reasoned conversation. At this point, the best one can hope for is to fight.

Anger Is a Dangerous Weapon

The destructive nature of anger is akin to a double-edged sword, capable of inflicting harm upon both its wielder and those unfortunate enough to be its target, often without discrimination.

Anger has a propensity to manifest in two primary directions: outward and inward. When we unleash our anger outwardly, it not only hurts the intended recipient but also casts a shadow of distress upon anyone within its radius. This outwardly directed anger not only tarnishes the person who expresses it but also leaves scars on the soul of the one it’s aimed at.

Consider the scenario where we angrily berate our children for their noisy behavior, attributing it to their wrongdoing when, in reality, it stems from the stressors lurking in our own lives. In such instances, our anger serves as a bludgeon, indiscriminately battering anyone in its path, including innocent bystanders.

Whether we employ harsh words or engage in aggressive actions against someone in the heat of anger, the intention is clear: harm. Words spoken in anger have the power to wound deeply, and the very tone of our voice can inflict pain upon the recipient, be it a spouse, child, stranger, family member, friend, coworker, or anyone else caught in the crossfire. Furthermore, when we turn our anger inwards, we unwittingly perpetrate harm upon our own psyche, self-worth, and inner peace.

Those subjected to unrelenting, uncontrolled anger, whether in the form of verbal or physical aggression, bear the brunt of its consequences. They suffer emotional distress, are scarred by the experience, and may even internalize their anger, a festering wound that can manifest as physical and emotional illness over time.

Yet, anger doesn’t discriminate; it harms the bearer as well. Frequent bouts of anger can take a toll on one’s blood pressure, trigger headaches, and increase vulnerability to chronic ailments. Intense anger raises the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and the development of ulcers.

Whether it’s directed at the world, ourselves, or others, anger is an equal-opportunity offender, inducing stress and posing serious health risks. Constantly berating ourselves for perceived failures or shortcomings is no less detrimental.

Anger, it seems, has a variety of triggers, including stress, feelings of underappreciation or unfair treatment, financial challenges, and issues in work or relationships. The consequences of anger, if left unchecked, can be both personally and socially devastating, underscoring the importance of managing this potent and potentially dangerous emotion.