The Connection Between Anxiety and Anger

Brains are here to keep us safe before anything else – before learning, connecting, and behaving deliberately. When the brain registers threat, the amygdala (the seat of anxiety in the brain) takes over. Everything becomes about survival, safety and what’s happening right now. The ‘thinking brain’ – the part of the brain that can make deliberate decisions about how to behave, think through consequences, problem solve, and retrieve learned information (like ‘what to do when I feel angry’) – is shut down. The amygdala is in charge, and its goal is to organise the body for fight or flight. It does this brilliantly, even if unnecessarily sometimes.

The important thing to remember is that ‘threat’ isn’t about what is actually dangerous, but about what the brain perceives. This can happen from real threats or perceived threats – the brain will respond the same way to both. All sorts of things can trigger even the healthiest, strongest brains to register threat, including stress, worrying thoughts, too much noise (or anything that pushes against their sensory needs), feeling disconnected or separated from their important people, feeling tired, hungry or being asked just a little more of than they can give in that particular moment. This can happen to any of us. We can all act in ways that aren’t so adorable when important needs or feelings get too big.

When anxiety is driving behaviour, it’s important to treat the behaviour as anxiety rather than bad behaviour. Any shame kids might feel for their behaviour will only drive their anxiety harder – they want to do the right thing and they don’t want to disappoint you.


Kathleen Notes: If we can understand this simple reality, how could we respond differently?!

- - Volume: 10 - WEEK: 20 Date: 5/10/2022 11:46:37 AM -