Let’s be honest, we’ve all felt anger at times. That boiling, roiling feeling inside that just seems to build and build, until eventually, it explodes out? Likewise, we’ve all felt the frustration of not being able to get something right, not being able to control something in our life, or of trying to teach someone something they seem just unable to grasp. They are some of the most relatable feelings on earth, and they are both completely normal. But like almost every emotion, experiencing them to excess can be a bad thing. This is when you need to understand which emotion you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how you can best cope with it. Everyone feels angry and frustrated sometimes, but if it’s affecting your life, then there are things you can do about it.
What is Anger & Frustration?
Often the terms anger and frustration are used interchangeably, and understandably so. On the surface, they seem like very similar feelings, and they can certainly manifest in very similar ways. But they are, in fact, very different, as are the reasons behind them. If you’ve never really considered it before, think about a time that you were frustrated with something or someone. Now compare it to the last time you felt truly angry about something, and maybe even had an outburst. Did they feel different? We’re willing to bet they did.
Here are the key differences between anger and frustration:
Anger: Anger is a very natural response to perceived threats or situations where you feel deliberately wronged. It’s often quick and explosive, and it has an immediate physiological response, which we’ll go into later. Anger is usually triggered by external factors, and it’s generally a very explosive emotion. At times, you may feel so angry that it simply cannot be expressed verbally or physically.
Frustration: Frustration is almost the flip side of the coin. Where anger is a very instant, gut reaction, frustration is often the ‘slow burn’ form. It’s the dissatisfaction with specific situations, the mix of hopelessness, discouragement, sadness and disappointment that slowly simmers away in the background. For example, if you’re trying to teach someone a new concept, but after multiple attempts and a lot of time they still don’t get it, you will probably feel frustrated. It’s a slow and steady response to negative situations. You may also feel frustrated over situations you can’t control – for example, many people are currently feeling frustrated about the continuing prevalence of Covid-19, politics, or their own financial or family circumstances.
How Does it Feel?
Again, because anger and frustration are different things, they will feel very different to experience. However, many people have combined all of the symptoms for both, and so it becomes difficult to figure out which emotion they are really feeling. So here’s a list of the ways both anger and frustration can make you feel. If you look back, can you identify a time you felt angry? And more importantly, can you think of a time you actually just felt frustrated, but you labelled it as anger?
- Faster heartbeat
- Tense muscles
- Clenching your fists
- Tightness in your chest
- Increase in temperature
- Feeling tense or nervous
- Being unable to relax
- Getting irritated easily
- Feeling humiliated
- Resenting other people
- Starting fights
- Breaking things
- Incessant bodily movement (like tapping fingers or sighing a lot)
- Trouble sleeping
- Holding back feelings
- Losing patience very quickly
- Feeling sad or anxious
- Wanting to give up or leave
- Sudden bursts of anger
Both anger frustration is completely normal emotions that everyone feels. But long term, they can both be incredibly hard on the body and mind.
What Causes Anger & Frustration?
This is a tricky one because while each has its own causes, one also causes the other. Long-term frustration can manifest as anger, or being quick to anger in situations you shouldn’t be. But there are some common causes and triggers for anger and frustration, which include:
- Stress at work
- Feeling threatened or attacked
- Being treated unfairly
- Feeling vulnerable
- Your needs going unmet
- Feeling unheard of unappreciated
- Physical threat
- Being unable to control something
- Memories of traumatic events
- Excessive worrying
But anger and frustration are complicated emotions, and often they can stem from other feelings that we simply don’t know how to deal with. Disappointment, fear and stress are great examples of emotions that tend to result in anger, whether that’s because the emotion actually causes anger, or because your mind responds to those emotions with anger because anger is an emotion it knows how to deal with and express. So sometimes finding the cause of your anger and frustration is more complicated than saying ‘what is the thing that’s making me angry’. Sometimes it means looking deeper inside and identifying the real feeling, before learning what the best way to cope with it is.
Hormones can also have a lot to do with experiencing anger. For example, a common condition for women is post-partum rage – the sudden feelings of intense anger caused by hormone surges after giving birth. Menopause has also been known to cause anger and intense mood swings thanks to the changes in hormone levels in your body. Hormonal imbalances or excess testosterone in both genders can also cause increased anger and mood swings. So if you’re feeling angry a lot for seemingly no reason, it might be worth looking into your hormones as well.
How Can We Help?
The good news is, anger and frustration are very normal things to feel, and most people experience them at some point, or multiple points in their life. But if you feel that your anger and frustration is starting to interfere with your daily life, then get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or download a free 30day trial of Melp – www.melp-app.com