I have always thought anger was part of who I was. A genetic predisposition to feel anger more strongly than others. Any stressful situation, loss of control, or an injustice done and I was in a red haze of rage. I have been like this since I was young and it's all I've known when it comes to dealing with situations and emotions.
But what if I were to tell you that anger is NOT a natural state for the brain and it is not a genetic predisposition? Anger is a LEARNED behaviour to the situations around us. Most likely, it was learned from someone close to you starting at a very young age. And they learned it from someone in their family. You can trace back anger through your family usually, so it comes as no surprise that people would assume it is a genetic trait.
Anger is learned the same as walking or talking. We learn how to deal with situations from the people around us. We grow up watching other people's behaviours and respond in kind. I learned at a very young age that anger was a normal part of life. It took me a very long time before I tried to curb this horrible habit that I had developed over the years.
I've lived most of my life in a constant state of stress, partially due to anger and also due to putting pressure on myself to succeed and be perfect. It wasn't until I started personal development that I really realized how much anger I was harboring inside on a daily basis. I started meditating and it gave me clarity and a calm I had been looking for my whole life. I was happier and more content. By working out daily I was also increasing my endorphin levels to help combat my learned subconscious of reacting to things negatively and with anger.
When you get angry, you increase the cortisol levels in your brain which actually contributes to a shorter lifespan. Cortisol is a natural stress hormone, but if you are in a constant state of "stress," it wears on your body which, essentially is poisoning your brain and killing you slowly. Wonder why women age faster than men? We tend to stress about things more, effectively increasing our cortisol levels, and wearing our bodies down. Anger is no different. Anger increases cortisol, which slowly poisons your brain, which decreases your lifespan.
If you think of animals, they don't hold grudges or stay angry. If you accidentally step on their foot they will forgive and forget and love you three minutes later. But if you continuously step on them, they will LEARN that your foot is bad and may lash out in what we perceive as anger to prevent the negative action from happening. We are the same. We learn at a young age how we should respond to situations and it becomes ingrained in our subconscious.
Moral of the story? Don't hold on to the anger you feel when someone or something does you wrong. That person or situation isn't increasing their cortisol levels and effectively poisoning themselves so you shouldn't either. We deserve to live a happy, long life and we have the ability to change how we react so we can achieve what we've always wanted out of life. Anger poisons your brain chemically as well as emotionally and the only person you are hurting is yourself. Finding ways to help decrease your stress and anger will increase your quality of life, allow you to see situations in a whole new light, and essentially stop poisoning your brain.