Anger: The Ways We Anger Dump And How To Deal
What are you so fucking mad about?!
I was texting my mother the other day furious, once again, at the staff at the Naval Hospital. I kept telling her, “No! You don’t understand what I am having to deal with. They’re as bad as the damn VA and almost as dumb!!! I have every right to be mad!” Her text back was pretty awesome. “You have the right, but do you have the energy? Wouldn’t the energy that you are using being angry at something you can’t control be better used doing something for yourself or your family?” UGH! Of course it would be, but I wanted to be mad, I wanted to be angry, and I wanted to go punch someone in the damn face. But… why? Had they really done something so awful that I needed to get in my car and go down there just to raise hell and possibly get arrested? No… but that changed nothing. I was still mad. So mad that on my way to pick up my oldest from school I had the worst kind of road rage; the kind where even if your windows are down you’ll still yell “Move it jerk off!”. Often times it’s hard to move on from that anger, no matter how justified it may, or may not, be. I saw this post on FB while waiting in the school car line, it said ” If you had $86,400 in the bank and someone stole $10 would you be so upset that you’d throw the other $86,390 away?” Meaning that, you have 86,400 seconds in a day, so someone fucking up 10 of them shouldn’t ruin your whole day. So I looked up the call I had with the Naval Hospital, I had given them just over 4 and a half minutes… 270 seconds… and I was willing to throw the other 86,130 seconds away. OK… that put things into a little better perspective.
Identifying Your Anger
Anger can be categorised according to six bipolar dimensions of expression. These include:
The direction of anger, is it internal (to you) or external (to someone or something else)
The anger reaction, is it retaliatory (manipulative) or resistant (defiant)
The mode of anger, is it physical or verbal
Anger impulsivity, is it controlled or uncontrolled
Objective of anger, is it restorative (healing) or punitive (punishing)
We all have a range of anger types we resort to when feeling either threatened, disrespected or frustrated… or all of these. The type of anger we use to express our feelings can vary depending on our mood and what’s going on around us. Anger is really good nor bad – it’s just an emotion. The difference is how you manage your anger, this is what determines if you are hurting yourself and/or others; are you creating positive change or dealing with the consequences of an outburst.
Types of Anger and Management Strategies
Type 1: Assertive anger: Assertive anger is the most constructive type of anger expression. If this is your type of anger, you use feelings of frustration or rage as a catalyst for positive change. Rather than avoiding confrontation, internalizing anger, or resorting to verbal insults and physical outbursts, you express your anger in ways that create change in the world around you – without causing distress or destruction. Management strategy: Assertive anger is a powerful motivator. Use assertive anger to overcome fear, address injustice and achieve your desired outcomes in life.
Type 2: Behavioural anger: Behavioural anger is expressed physically, and is usually aggressive. If you’ve experienced this type of anger, you may feel so overwhelmed by your emotions that you lash out at the object of your rage. This might involve physically attacking someone, or breaking or throwing things. This type of anger can be highly unpredictable, may be fuelled by alcohol or drugs, and often has negative legal and interpersonal consequences. Management strategy: Philosopher Thomas Paine said “The greatest remedy for anger is delay”, and this is especially valuable advice for behavioural anger management. If you feel your anger rising, take a moment to calm down before you do something you may regret. Remove yourself from the situation if possible, and use a self-talk technique to regain control of your emotions (eg repeat “Take it easy” to yourself until you feel yourself physically calm down, then reconsider what is happening when you’re feeling less agitated.)
Type 3: Chronic anger: Chronic anger is an ongoing, generalised resentment of other people, frustration with certain circumstances, and anger towards oneself. It’s characterised by habitual irritation: the prolonged nature of this type of anger can have profoundly adverse effects on one’s health and wellbeing. Management strategy: Spend some time reflecting on the underlying causes of your anger. If you can identify the source of your resentment, you may be able to resolve the inner conflict you’re experiencing by forgiving yourself and others for past transgressions. The process of forgiveness is powerful, and can help to resolve lingering hurt and frustration.
Type 4: Judgmental anger: Judgmental anger is righteously indignant – this type of anger is usually a reaction to a perceived injustice or someone else’s shortcoming. Although judgmental anger assumes a morally superior stance of justified fury, it may alienate potential allies by invalidating their difference of opinion. Management strategy: Commit to exploring the light and shade in different situations, as circumstances are rarely as simple as they seem on the surface. Other people’s perspectives can also give you valuable insight into possible solutions to life’s challenges.
Type 5: Overwhelmed anger: Overwhelmed anger is an uncontrolled type of anger. It usually occurs when we feel that a situation or circumstances are beyond our control, resulting in feelings of hopelessness and frustration. This type of anger is common when we’ve taken on too much responsibility, or unexpected life events have overthrown our usual capacity to cope with stress. Management strategy: It’s crucial to reach out for help if you’re experiencing overwhelmed anger. Let family, friends and professional colleagues know that you need some support, whether it’s help with babysitting, taking a family member to their medical appointments, or an extension for your school assignment or work project. By alleviating potential sources of stress, you’ll regain a sense of emotional and behavioural control again.
Type 6: Passive-aggressive anger: Passive-aggressive anger is an avoidance type of anger. If this is your usual mode of anger expression, you likely try to evade all forms of confrontation, and may deny or repress any feelings of frustration or fury you’re experiencing. Passive-aggressive anger may be expressed verbally, as sarcasm, pointed silence or veiled mockery, or physically in behaviour such as chronic procrastination at work. Sometimes people who express anger passively aren’t even aware that their actions are perceived as aggressive – this can have dire personal and professional outcomes. Management strategy: Learn assertive communication techniques, and explore your fear of confrontation using ‘What if?’ scenarios. By developing your ability to articulate your frustrations and confidently face a range of fears, you’re more likely to get your needs met in both personal and professional relationships.
Type 7: Retaliatory anger: Retaliatory anger is usually an instinctual response to being confronted or attacked by someone else. It’s one of the most common types of anger, and is motivated by revenge for aperceived wrong. Retaliatory anger can also be deliberate and purposeful. It often aims to intimidate other people by asserting control over a situation or outcome, yet may only serve to escalate tensions. Management strategy: Whether your urge for retaliatory anger is impulsive or intentional, it’s important to pause and think before you act upon it. Will your angry reaction improve the situation, or only worsen relations? By choosing to diffuse the immediate conflict you can avoid the unwanted long-term consequences of revenge.
Type 8: Self-abusive anger: Self-abusive anger is a shame-based type of anger. If you’ve been feeling hopeless, unworthy, humiliated or ashamed, you might internalize those feelings and express anger via negative self talk, self-harm, substance use, or eating disordered behaviour. Alternatively, you may find yourself lashing out at those around to mask feelings of low self-worth, increasing your sense of alienation. Management strategy: Learn about cognitive reframing techniques and use them to challenge and transform any self-defeating, distorted thoughts and feelings you’re experiencing. Mindfulness meditation can also help centre you in the present moment and deal with any impulses to engage in self-harming behaviours.
Type 9: Verbal anger: Verbal anger is often seen as less dangerous than behavioural anger, but it can be a form of emotional and psychological abuse that deeply hurts the target of one’s anger. Verbal abuse may be expressed as furious shouting, threats, ridicule, sarcasm, intense blaming or criticism. If you’ve lashed out at someone verbally it’s common to feel ashamed, apologetic and regretful afterwards. Management strategy: Even if the words are on the tip of your tongue, take a breath before you speak. Then another one. As tempting as it may be to blurt out the first angry response that comes to mind when you’re upset, the key to effectively managing this type of anger is simply delaying the impulse to lash out. With practice, you can curb any tendency towards verbal abuse and replace it with assertive anger expression (See Type 1).
Type 10: Volatile anger: Volatile anger seems to come out of nowhere: if this is your type of anger, you are very quick to get upset about perceived annoyances, both big and small. Once you’ve impulsively expressed your anger, you often calm down just as quickly. Unfortunately volatile anger can be incredibly destructive, as those around you may feel they need to walk on eggshells for fear of triggering your rage. If left unchecked, volatile anger may eventually lead to violent outbursts. Management strategy: Identify the signs and physical symptoms that precede a volatile outburst, and use relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing) to stop your anger from escalating.
At The End of The Day…
You are the only one that can control the way you react, if you want to stop being so angry – it won’t happen overnight. But there’s a starting place to help you start dealing with your anger in ways that are more constructive and less destructive. Do some research and find a way that will work for you! Don’t let anger hurt you or those around you.