Fight or Flight

Anger is a complex human emotion that can automatically trigger the fight component of your nervous system’s fight-or-flight response. It is the emotion that signals when you feel personally threatened and the emotion that can cause your blood to “boil.” It is also the emotion that expresses the combative side of your personality, and what you and everyone around you fears the most.

Option #1: Take Offensive Action

We are all born with a built-in capacity for anger as a self-protection mechanism that helps us learn, adapt and survive life’s challenges. Anger moves us to take offensive action to defend against actual or perceived threats, even a threat to our self-esteem.

Option #2: Rational Thinking

The other half of the fight-or-flight response is an automatic rational thinking response to assess the situation so as to avoid the threat altogether and run away. Unfortunately, neither of these two choices result in a very effective solution in today’s world. The fight-or-flight response worked well when mankind’s survival was at stake. A threatened person expressed their anger in an immediately hostile and aggressive manner to drive off or kill an oppoinent, thus saving his property and family. Or he simply chose to run away and resume the fight another day.

Option #3: The Middle Path

There is a third option available. You can choose the middle-of-the-road response. You can postpone the conflict by walking away to cool off. Let cooler heads prevail, as the saying goes. At some later time, you verbalize the complaint with the other party and reach some type of compromise.

Research by Ernest Harbug at the University of Michigan found that people who chose the middle-of-the-road approach generally had lower blood pressure, were better educated, had higher income and better job status than people who chose the first two primitive methods of dealing with angry conflict.

Keep Calm and Resolve the Conflict

Taking a time-out to resume the conflict later isn’t a complete resolution, but it does provide additional time for you to examine your thinking and review your options. A big part of anger-management is conflict resolution, requiring a two-way conversation where both parties discuss their anger issues in a constructive way, and acknowledge that progress was made. It would also be a good idea to tell the other person that you have a better understanding than when you both began talking and that you feel good about the discussion. If the conflict remains unresolved then ask when you can meet again to continue the discussion.

Keeping the conversation calm and civil will also show your maturity and your wish to come to a peaceful, constructive resolution.

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.
Review our Knowledge Base or the links displayed on this page for similar related topics.