Anger Can Exact a 
Heavy Price

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist

Heart diseases cause nearly half of all deaths in the United States every year -- twice as many as the deaths from cancer. 

Emotions have a very direct relationship with our heart.  It is common knowledge that stress has a bad influence.  What is not so well known is the negative influence of anger, and the lack of emotional support from others in a person's life.

Today, we will look at anger.  It has been studied through psychological tests that people who carry high hostility in their lives are more likely to have a heart attack and even to die earlier from various other causes.

It was earlier believed that more Type A persons (driven by work and achievement) had heart attacks compared to Type B persons (relaxed and casual, the "laid back").  We now know that being Type A or Type B does not matter, it is the hostility that is responsible for increased heart attacks.

Moreover, anger is particularly bad for a person with heart disease.  The heart's pumping efficiency deteriorates during the state of anger.  A person is not punished for angry heart, he is punished by angry heart.

Brian Tracey says that five minutes of an uncontrolled angry outburst uses up as much energy as eight hours of work.  Muscles become weak with burning up of the sugar and one "shakes" with anger. 

Unlike other animals, we carry anger and hostility in our hearts for a long time.  Hostile people are also more likely than others to have poor health habits, such as overeating, smoking, and drinking alcohol to excess.

We know anger hurts us, yet it is very difficult to let go of it.  We may be so angry with someone that it doesn't feel right to forgive and let them get away so easily.  Yet, letting go of your anger is the kindest thing you can do for yourself.

Some times to help with anger:

If you are angry with yourself, keep saying to yourself silently:  "I love myself too much to be angry with me."

When angry thoughts keep coming to your mind about others, see the graphic sign STOP in your minds eye and in a soft and soothing voice, say to yourself silently, "STOP".

If you feel that someone is taking you for granted or stepping on your toes, rather than seething and simmering over it, learn to be assertive with that person.  Being assertive is different from being aggressive.  Being assertive is healthy.  There are brief courses in assertiveness skills.

When you are in a situation and that situation is making you angry and you have to be in that situation, distract yourself.  For example, if you are in the line in the supermarket and the line is really slow, instead  of thinking all those wonderful things you would like to do that cashier or the person in front of you, pick up a magazine from the rack and take it as an opportunity to catch up with all the gossip of the sensational journalism.

Pretend that it is the last day of your life.  Imagine, if it was the last day of your life and you knew it before hand, would you still be angry and upset about petty things and rash worlds?  I bet you would be gracious and magnanimous.  You would make amends, forgive, and forget.

Managing anger is good for the heart and general health, but it is not enough.  Good medical care including regular checks of blood pressure, cholesterol level, and other risk factors are also necessary.

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


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