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Understanding Your Anger

By: Deborah danner, ph.d(c),lcpc, cadc

Anger is a natural emotion that everyone experiences. It ranges from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. It's completely normal and healthy at times to feel angry when you've been mistreated, hurt, or wronged.

What are some of the causes of anger?

Anger can be caused by both things that have happened in the past and/or right now. It can be triggered by something inside you or other people. You might be angry at a specific person or event (a traffic jam, or a canceled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

How people might express anger?

The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival.

However, we can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; laws, social norms, and common sense place limits on how far our anger can take us.

The Impact of Repressed Anger

People use a variety of both conscious and unconscious processes to deal with their angry feelings. The three main approaches are expressing, suppressing, and calming. Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner is the healthiest way to express anger. To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others.

Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behavior.

Unexpressed anger can create other problems. It can lead to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behavior (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile.


In the end, the key is to understand and manage anger. By understanding what triggers our anger and how we express it, we can monitor our reactions and implement strategies to handle it. It's not about repressing our feelings but about understanding them and making conscious choices about how we want to express them. This way, anger won't be a destructive force, but a constructive one. It's okay to feel angry, but it's important to express it in a healthy and productive way. Reach out today to schedule a session and begin the process of finding ways to manage your anger.


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