Epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is a hormone and neurotransmitter and produced by the adrenal glands that can also be used as a drug due to its various important functions.
When Anger Takes Over
Three Causes of Anger
3. Pain (physical or emotional)
We all have times when our anger kicks in and instead of responding constructively we react destructively. The chemical that is released that causes us to react rather than respond is epinephrine.
What is Epinephrine?
Epinephrine is a chemical released into the system that affects the rational part of the brain and sends us into the “fight or flight” mode. When we get angry, we say or do things we would not normally say or do.
One way to look at epinephrine is to think about your brain in two parts. A smaller emotional part on the inside and a big rational lid on top. When epinephrine is released, the lid flips up and the rational part of your brain can no longer function. This leaves you with only irrational or emotional reactions i.e fight, flight or freeze.
What to do When Your Lid is Flipped
Take responsibility for recognising and minimising the things that trigger your anger. This will help you to not react in a negative or destructive way. However, we all will have times when we react in destructive ways to those around us, when we’re not thinking rationally. Take the time to apologise and talk through any damage that has been created by your reactions.
What to do When Others Lids are Flipped
Often we try the impossible by trying to have a rational conversation with an irrational person who has flipped their lid. Our role is to stay constructive, calm and quiet. This gives the other person the opportunity to come back to a rational state of thinking. We do want to hold people accountable for what they say and do. But this is only constructive when they’re in a rational place to engage in conversation.
When is Anger Healthy?
Anger is a healthy emotion that helps us understand when we or others are in danger. However, trying to have a productive conversation while angry only ends up irrational and destructive. Waiting until the epinephrine has gone enables you to have a constructive conversation about what has triggered this anger.
What are Things that Trigger Your Epinephrine?
Inside work and outside of work? Think about the things that cause you fear, frustration or pain.
What is a strategy that you might use now with a parent/caregiver who has flipped their lid? How can you avoid a destructive conversation and turn it constructive?