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Why Are You So Angry And How Do You Resolve It?

We think of anger as such a negative emotion.


After all, we know the physical repercussions of that “fight” part of the fight-or flight syndrome:  Raised blood pressure from the surge of stress hormones, which do all sorts of rotten things to our bodies.

So we know the downside, and why learning to manage anger becomes more imperative as the decades roll by.  None of us has the energy to waste, or the heart to take all those surges of cortisol, etc.

And especially in this age of more awareness on mental health, and with the growing industry of new-thought and spirituality, being seen as “angry” is a pretty big put down.  One that then causes guilt and shame, which spur on more anger.

Quite the vicious cycle.

Buddhism actually lists anger as one of the three poisons—the other two are greed and ignorance.

But anger is actually a normal reaction to stressful events.  That “fight or flight” response didn’t come out of nowhere.  It developed to keep us safe, to either help us to flee a situation, or muster the energy to fight our way out.

Because anger is very energizing.  Just remember the last time you were really mad.  Man, you coulda knocked that guy into next week!  Didn’t you just feel something zinging through your system?  Heart rate raised, even if just a hair?

Yep, pesky little emotion to get rid of!

The great thing about that energy, however, is that we can then use it to unravel the knotty causes of it.  And while we might feel justified in our anger, unless we really get to the bottom of it, the emotion will own us, rather than provide the energy to help us out of the scrape.

All psychologists (and spiritual gurus too) say that anger is a covering emotion.  I.e., that it’s a cover for a deeper one—for hurt, for frustration, or for that old demon fear.  Perhaps for all three.

So the key is to unravel the emotions, and see what’s driving your anger.

֎   First off, what is the anger covering?  What, underneath that, are you really feeling?  A great tool is to state your feeling, taking the word anger out of it.  For example, rather than:

“I am mad he cut me off in traffic!”  Becomes, “I am frustrated I might not get to work on time.”

֎   Once you’ve identified the true emotion, then identify the true source of it.  Not the easiest thing to sift through!  But who or what is the real source of it?  For example:

“That guy’s a jerk for cutting me off!” Well, you don’t know if he is or not.  He might not even have known you were there.  Which becomes:

“I’m really angry at myself for leaving the house ten minutes late—again.”

Which doesn’t mean the guy’s not a real jerk, but does mean the only actions you can control are your own, so the responsibility goes straight back into your court.

֎   Third, and this is where it gets pretty tricky, figure out the unfulfilled need that keeps feeding the anger.

Not much fun.  But if an unfulfilled need didn’t exist, you wouldn’t be angry in the first place.

Perhaps you need to forgive yourself for constantly leaving for work late.  Perhaps there’s a reason you do it—such as not wanting to go to work for a variety of reasons.  Maybe you need to forgive others as well.  Perhaps you don’t feel validated or appreciated at work.

It’s like the old story of the man whose boss yelled at him, who goes home and yells at his wife, and she turns around and yells at the kids, who then kick the dog.  Dog will at some point bite something (hopefully the fence rather than the kid), but one way or another, the cycle continues.  The origin was the man’s relationship with his boss, which is skewed for . . . well, that’s what has to be figured out in the first place.

֎   Then identify what you can constructively do about it.

Again, you first have to investigate your side of the street.  Perhaps you haven’t been giving 100 % at work in the first place.  Which resulted in all those dings from your boss.  Or, perhaps your boss is unreasonable.  (Often it’s a combination of both, no matter the circumstances.)  But dig down to the bones and get to what’s really going on in the situation.  Forgiveness work is usually required at this point as well—whether forgiving yourself, someone else, or both.

֎   Finally, take action.  Life always comes down to this, no?  But the best way to release anger is pretty much always to move it out of your system.  Which means you have to do something about it.

Perhaps that means talking with your boss—as uncomfortable as that may feel.  Perhaps it’s acknowledging to him as well that you know you’ve been remiss in places, but feel your work isn’t being appreciated.

No matter what the specific step is, there will be one.  Take it.

That’s what puts you back in the driver’s seat, and then you can reclaim your life and move forward.

As Aristotle said:

  Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

How do you resolve your anger?

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Sabrina Quairoli

    I love that you mentioned to take ownership of your own issues first instead of blaming others. I rather look at myself and why I am annoyed instead of blaming others. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Susan Malone

      You are so conscious, Sabrina! Thank you for being a voice here!

  2. GiGi Eats

    I used to be insanely angry and it’s all because I would think about the things I didn’t have. I completely changed my mindset though and I have been the happiest person (anyone has ever met) for at least 15 years at this point!

    1. Susan Malone

      I love that, GiGi. Isn’t it funny how when we quit bemoaning what we don’t have, and start being grateful for what we do, we become oh-so-much happier 🙂
      Your happiness fills me with delight!

  3. Trish

    Thank YOU for these great tips in dealing with anger Susan. You’re so right anger is NOT a healthy state of mind.

    Positive thinking helped me resolve some of my anger issues. For example, I set my alarm to ring one hour earlier to resolve being late for work once. And, each time I back out of my driveway, I state out loud, “I am always on time” … and then find I have a VERY relaxing drive to work even if someone does cut me off.

    1. Susan Malone

      Wow, what a great method, Trish! I love that! By setting out a positive affirmation to begin your drive, you’ve just made your day a success.

  4. Roslyn Tanner Evans

    My voice raises a few octaves, I hear it 7 stop. Whew- what was that about I ask. Mostly I can uncover the hidden upset. Anger never frightened me or bothered me as I now it is a signal to something else is going on. Nice unexpected post.

    1. Susan Malone

      I am not surprised that you know anger is a signal for something else, Roz. You’re so aware. And I love the voice rising as a signal to stop and dissect.

  5. Teresa

    Those are valuable insights on anger. It’s often not a black or white scenario, therefore worthwhile to understand where it comes from. I wholeheartedly agree that it is a personal journey and not one of blame. Forgiveness is so huge and important for us to remember that it is not about the other person – we are forgiving for ourselves to be set free…often from anger. Great article!

    1. Susan Malone

      So true, Teresa–what causes us to feel anger so often isn’t a black or white scenario. Great insight!

  6. Rebecca Bryant

    I get angry when I see people being lied to or taking advantage of. that said not sure how to resolve that as it happens a lot here with my brothers.

    1. Susan Malone

      I agree, Rebecca–my anger these days is often a response to someone one I know/love being hurt, taken advantage of, or anything that just isn’t fair. Righteous anger, I call that 🙂

  7. Beverley Golden

    Great post, Susan, with lots of insights on how to “look” at the “whys” behind the anger and then do something to resolve it. Anger is associated with the liver. In Chinese medicine, the liver and the spleen meridians are intertwined. When I find myself getting angry, I usually know my liver is somehow off and take action to re-balance my system, acupuncture is one way. I am very conscious of the inter-relatedness of the emotions aligned with each organ and agree that often the anger is covering something deeper and possibly more obscure. I also agree most of the time we are actually “angry” with ourselves for some reason… the uncovering of the reason is where we have the opportunity to transform it. Thanks for the wonderful post! Our world seems to be getting angrier and angrier and through talking about it and offering ways to transform it, perhaps we can find our way out of anger and back to love.

    1. Susan Malone

      Interesting about the liver, Beverley! I so love integrated medicine.
      And our world does seem to be getting angrier and angrier, the loudest voices getting all the play. I believe in Peace through culture, and agree we need to talk emotions out!

  8. Beth Niebuhr

    This is such a useful article. Angry people generally don’t look for the real reason why they are feeling so mad. I love the quote, “Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

    1. Susan Malone

      Isn’t that a cool quote, Beth. It’s part of what spurred on this piece 🙂

  9. Karen

    This is great. This would also work with fear as well as anger. For me I am a talker. I have to say what is frustrating me out loud. It seems like no matter what else I do, unless I spill it into the universe, it stays in my body. Also when I say it out loud I usually can see beyond the anger and see what really is bothering me. Your steps are wonderful and I will try to dig deeper next time I am angry.

    1. Susan Malone

      I love that, Karen. Long ago a book was published called Right Use of Will It talks about exactly that–getting the anger out, in whatever way necessary as long as you don’t harm yourself or others. Spilling it to thee Universe is perfect!

  10. Samantha Lee-Wiraatmaja

    I take some time out alone. And I’ve also found that it’s actually healthy (both emotionally and physically) to let out anger, as long as it’s in a healthy way that doesn’t hurt others or myself.

    1. Susan Malone

      Absolutely, Samantha. God didn’t make us emotionless 🙂 And that’s the key–let it out where it doesn’t hurt ourselves or each other.

  11. Kim

    I rarely get angry and when I do I always cauk it up to being tired and not being able to coupe with life stresses. This really has opened my eyes to look deeper into these angry outbursts.

    1. Susan Malone

      Sometimes we are just tired, Kim 🙂 And looking at why we are, and how to change things, helps mitigate that anger too!

  12. Stephanie

    These are great insights. I think identifying the underlying roots of the issues and dealing with those is what brings contentment and peace.

  13. Lisa Swanson

    So, yes I can agree that anger can be coming from a deeper emotion, but I also think anxiety is coming from suppressed anger. Feelings are so complex with multiple reasons behind them. Step on is acknowledging your feelings and step 2, decide how you want to deal with them.

    1. Susan Malone

      That’s perfect, Lisa. Feelings really are so complex. And as you say, acknowledging and dealing with them are the keys to the kingdom 🙂

  14. Mariana

    I, too, believe that anger is a normal reaction. It’s what you do and say when you’re angry that can hurt other people, though. It’s important to learn how to manage it.

    1. Susan Malone

      That’s the key, Mariana. And where the demons lie 🙂

  15. Joyce Hansen

    As you say Susan, it’s easy to get angry. And, there are so many things to get angry about. People fail to recognize the emotional and physical consequences. Years ago, I heard someone say that when it comes to being angry about something, ask yourself if it is going to matter tomorrow, next month, next year or in ten years. That’s taught me to do an anger check and most times I can let go of the anger immediately.

    1. Susan Malone

      That’s a wonderful tip, Joyce! And isn’t it the truth–the things that rile us today won’t matter a hill of pintos down the road.

  16. Deb Nelson

    Great insight here, Susan. Tough to do in the moment, but reflection works well to get the root of the anger.

  17. Kristen Wilson

    Okay, maybe mine isn’t anger, but lonliness and sadness! lol

    However, on the guy that cut me off (as I might have road rage – I live South of Houston, 3rd largest city in US).. it wasn’t because I was late, that rarely happens, as I plan ahead.. but I’m angry because people don’t know how to drive and they are so involved in their own little world to CONSIDER there is someone else on the road.. maybe going faster, who should be in the fast lane… or hey, I ride a motorcycle and I really would NOT like to get road rash.. it sucks, I’ve been there before. Hmmm, guess I just hate stupid selfish people, that count? lol

    1. Susan Malone

      LOL, Kristen! I don’t envy you having to drive in Houston traffic. Every time I go to Dallas, I experience the insanity of the city roads! Just thankful I don’t have to do it too often 🙂

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