Overcoming Deadly Psychological Traps in an Emergency Part 3: Anger

Anger is just as capable of killing us as the events that are threatening our lives.  It can cloud judgment,   encourage us to make irrational decisions and work against everything good that we are trying to accomplish.  Anger is a natural and common psychological response to stress or loss, but it is something that should be dealt with in an appropriate manner.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell when anger is influencing us during the heat of the moment, and this is why it’s so important to address this concern before a crisis strikes.

Anger can stem from a lot of things.  Fear, uncertainty, stress, a lack of control, a sense of being overwhelmed or the actions of others can all cause us to become upset.  The key thing is to address the causes as well as the responses to anger in order to keep episodes under control.  This takes some patience, a little bit of self-examination and a willingness to make a conscious attempt to think before reacting to things.

Anger is by and large destructive by nature and it can influence everything from what you think to how you behave.  Imagine being stressed during a bug-out-situation and making rash decisions that you would otherwise avoid.  Consider the impact of losing your temper and going off on someone who is accompanying you in a crisis.  Maybe you are stalking some prey, trip and then yell into the air at the top of your lungs, giving your position away to every animal within earshot.  It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to to see how easily anger can get in the way of survival.

The trick to dealing with anger is not to suppress the feelings but to channel them in another direction.  Talking things through, taking a step back from a situation or thinking about cause and effect relationships that lead to certain feelings are fast and easy ways to turn anger into something else.  Most of us already do this to one degree or another anyway.  It’s the triggers that we miss or don’t already know about that can cause the most problems in a crisis.

The best way to channel anger in a different direction is to practice offering an alternative response.  Take control of reactions and assign ones that are full of anger to other options.  For example, be quiet instead of yelling when you hear bad news or get analytic instead of angry when you fail.  The trick is think before reacting and make an intentional effort to steer the direction of the aftermath.  It won’t take long before you develop a way of handling things in a more calm and calculated manner if you start to think about how and why you get upset.

Many incidents that relate to anger during a survival situation also come from insecurity or not knowing what to do.  Stress and anxiety also precipitate anger in many situations.  The best way to deal with these situations is to learn, prepare and rehearse.  This gives you experience, confidence and the ability to see through little moments and on to the bigger picture.  You become less reactive and more pragmatic, and you understand the value of trial-and-error and you are less likely to be governed by emotions.

Anger also stems from too much or not enough physical activity, adjustments to diets, a lack of sleep or exhaustion.  When physical forces start to change moods and shorten tempers, it’s important to give the body what it needs.  Eat, get rest or find a way to burn off excess energy.  Once you deal with the cause, the feelings will normally subside on their own.

Start to become aware of your feelings and some triggers that can lead you to have a short-temper or emotional flare-up.  Identifying and fixing them now is a lot easier than being clouded during the heat of the moment when you need to make important and rational decisions.  Try to be mindful of when people are telling you that you are upset as well, because it may be difficult for you to notice.

Remember that it is perfectly normal to get angry and frustrated during a crisis.  It could be because you are angry at the event itself or its aftermath.  However, it’s important that you keep things in perspective and turn your energy and attention to finding solutions so you can work through the problem.  Knee-jerk reactions and poor judgment calls are responsible for an incalculable amount of injuries and death, and your chances of survival will depend on how well you can roll with the punches, control your anger and think clearly.


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