What Are Anger Triggers?

Anger triggers are occurrences or events, such as a negative tone of voice or mannerisms, that trigger the emotion of anger. The trigger might lead to characterizing the event as hurtful, belittling or disrespectful. The experience of an anger trigger is handled differently by different people, ranging from dismissing the event to feeling enraged. A healthy response to triggers involves acknowledging the emotion of anger and reevaluating the interpretation of the event. Anger might be a legitimate response in situations of injustice or an overreaction in cases of misinterpretation.
Triggers fall into a wide variety of events or occurrences. A person who asks a teenage boy a question might interpret his response of “whatever” as disrespectful. A neighbor’s loud music might trigger feelings of anger. People who turn their backs to others who are speaking might illicit angry responses from some people. Someone who speaks quickly without warmth in his or her voice might trigger anger in certain people.
Each person has a different set of anger triggers. For one person, the perception that others are making fun of him or her might lead to intense anger. Another person in the same situation might join in the laughter and dismiss the incident as harmless. The angered person in this scenario might be interpreting the event as belittling or hurtful. His or her internal talk might involve negative conclusions about the people who are joking, along with a desire to lash out or remove himself or herself from the situation.
Handling anger in healthy ways involves self-awareness about anger triggers and related thoughts and emotions. Acknowledging the presence of anger is a necessary first step, followed by understanding specific triggers. Some people might react angrily to situations without first analyzing the event, their feelings and the intent of others. Taking the actions of other people personally is one reason that some people are angered. The teenager who responds with the term “whatever,” for example, might use that word in many instances and with all people.
Anger triggers typically are healthy in certain situations that involve injustice or that demand attention. A noisy neighbor who blasts music in the middle of the night, for example, might be aware that he or she is violating a local ordinance and keeping others awake. If a neighbor’s work performance is jeopardized because of sleep deprivation, anger might be a legitimate response in the situation. In each case, understanding anger triggers and the associated thoughts and emotions is an important part of assertively expressing and dealing with anger.

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