Are you someone who proudly proclaims that you “never get angry”?
Or do you wait so long to deal with your anger that when it finally comes out you explode- only to feel guilty and wish you could take it back?
Either way, if you’re nodding your head, this episode is for you. I’m breaking down six different types of anger people experience so you can get a better understanding of how your anger might be affecting you, your health, your relationships, and your behaviors. You’ll learn some things you can do to have a healthier relationship with your anger because trying to ignore or suppress it is not the answer. Honoring your anger is honoring yourself. So click below to watch the video or keep on reading.
Anger is such a complicated emotion for so many of us. Especially if you were raised to be the “good” girl (like I was), anger might not have been an acceptable emotion in your family of origin. When we are children, we are dialed into the world around us, constantly receiving both spoken and unspoken messages from our family, community, and the culture we grew up in. What is adaptive in childhood to keep us safe and included in the group can become maladaptive in adulthood.
For many years, I could not express my anger because it was a forbidden emotion in the household I was raised in. My own anger was so threatening to me that I would unconsciously turn it into a different emotion that was “safe”- like sorrow, sadness, or depression.
Though I was unable to communicate my anger directly, it didn’t just disappear. I would do it indirectly. Slamming doors, rolling my eyes, or sarcasm was my dysfunctional expression of choice. I denied my anger. If someone asked me if I was mad I would say, “No, I’m fine. I’m just tired,” or some variation of that. Can you relate?
As I got healthier in my life, committed to therapy, and became a psychotherapist myself, one of my most important and highest goals in life was to be accurately understood and known. That meant I needed to figure out my relationship with anger and learn how to express it in a healthy way.
If you want to improve your relationship with your anger, just know, that it is possible. No matter how long you’ve been denying or suppressing it or if you feel shame and guilt around random outbursts, you are not alone.
Harvard¹ conducted a study that found with treatment, knowledge, and education 75% of people who experience explosive anger can change with the appropriate interventions. Deconstructing the root causes of anger was noted as an effective treatment. You can change the way you respond and learn how to manage and honor your anger.
You don’t have to continue stuffing it down, making it something else, or exploding. Unexpressed, unmanaged anger is bad for your relationships and bad for you. How you feel matters. The first step is to begin to understand your anger blueprint, or the collection of data that informed your relationship to anger when you were growing up, and then to begin to dive into the root causes.
Inside this week’s downloadable guide, you’ll get some clarifying questions to help you uncover your anger blueprint plus an anger self-inventory so you can understand where to put your attention. You can grab your guide here now.
Knowledge is power, so let’s move into the 6 most common types of anger:
1. Assertive Anger – This expression of anger can be constructive. It looks like effectively communicating how you feel by being direct and to the point while avoiding damaging or hurting the other person. It is neither aggressive nor passive. The goal is to express your needs, wants, and feelings clearly without causing damage.
2. Behavioral Anger – This defines aggressive and even physical, violent reactions to anger. The intention is to harm and hurt, and the behaviors can run the spectrum from throwing or breaking things to physical intimidation.
3. Chronic Anger – This is an ongoing, often internalized, resentment towards others, circumstance, and/or self. It is a persistent feeling of frustration and annoyance. Unresolved chronic anger negatively impacts your emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing.
4. Passive Aggressive – The indirect expression of anger, is perhaps one of the most destructive forms of covert communication. Think door slamming, sarcasm, heavy sighing, eye-rolling, and stone-walling (and also, yes, giving hostile one-word answers). Passive-aggressive behaviors are anger avoidant and damaging to relationships because no one can really know you.
5. Retaliatory Anger– This is when someone hurts or attacks you and your instinct is to get back at them. Considered the most common form of anger, this looks like you feeling like you’ve been wronged and you want to get revenge and strike back. We can feel justified in this type of anger, but the truth is, no matter what someone does to us, we are still responsible for our own actions.
6. Self-Abusive Anger – This type of anger is rooted in feelings of shame, guilt, and lack of worthiness. You might be particularly vulnerable to internalizing your anger if you experienced these feelings in childhood. It can manifest in negative self-talk, substance abuse, self-harm, and disordered eating.
Understanding the different types of anger can help you raise your awareness and be more mindful of how you respond in different situations and how you relate to yourself and others. What I have found in my therapy practice over the last 25 years is many people are much more reticent to express anger outwardly than they are to internalize it.
We can get into a comfort zone of self-blame, but again, this is so damaging to you and to your relationships. There is another option and you can learn how to manage and honor your anger. It all has to do with becoming a boundary boss. The way you relate to anger is about your internal and external boundaries. It all begins with how you relate to yourself.
Please be sure to download your guide so you can begin to understand why you are the way you are and how to make healthy shifts in the way you experience and express your anger. I promise you, it is worth the effort and has the power to change your life for the better. Here’s where you can download your guide.
If this was helpful to you, please share it with the people in your world. Let me know what you think about this or if you have any q’s for me by dropping me a comment below or connecting with me on Instagram @terricole.
I hope you have an amazing week diving deep into your anger and as always, take care of you.