Anger can be seen as a negative emotion but there are no negative emotions. All emotions serve a function for us, none are negative, it’s how we express those emotions can make how they feel negative or positive. Knowing how you react in situations and the type of anger you use can be the first step in realising if you have a problem expressing your anger. Sometime people will read this statement and say “yep that’s not me I never get angry.” But we all do we may not do it in a violent, confrontational way, that many people associate with how anger is expressed, we may express it in a more passive-aggressive form. What ever way you express anger it’s still good to look at the types of anger and question do you express your anger in a positive way?
Types of anger
(It should be noted that this list is by no means complete but it will give you some ideas on ways people express themselves using anger. These anger types as you will notice can also overlap, so there is no one shoe fits all here.)
Chronic Anger – Is an ongoing form of generalised resentment of life and of others , but it can be directed at yourself. If prolonged it is unhealthy and stresses out the immune system, it can be closely linked to depression and mood disorders. This why we tend to think of depression as anger turned inwards
Volatile Anger – The type of anger that is coming/going often seen as explosive and intense . This is often seen as a type of anger that can lead to physical and verbal abuse, often triggered by a perceived hurt, insult or personal annoyance. Thus requiring anger management training for the individual concerned. These techniques are excelled in helping this type of anger and helps the individual to learn to identify the signs and symptoms that can lead to an outburst and learn to calm themselves using breathing techniques and/or removing themselves from the situation.
Judgemental Anger – Often expressed through criticism and hurtful comments to another individual we have resentments or loathing against.
Passive Anger – Passive-aggressive anger- This type of anger if often seen in situations where the individual cannot “get back at” or directly express their anger at the person concerned. It may even be hidden from the individual expressing it as they can be unaware they are doing it. But they are anger and are expressing it in hidden or non-obvious ways. Such as through sarcasm, avoidance, arriving late or completing substandard work. The whole idea of this type of anger is that it is non-confrontational.
Overwhelmed Anger – Well as the title states the individual concerns is feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with their life and/or workload. They feel frustrated, may still keep up their workload but feel very resentful towards others around them.
Retaliatory Anger – Okay this is the “I’m going to get you back” type f anger. It can be directed at an individual, company or state body. The person concerns feel aggrieved at what they perceive has been done to them or a loved one and want revenge in some cases. This is why it can also be seen as a dangerous expression of anger that’s motivating a violent outcome.
Self Inflicted Anger – A form of anger that is directed inwards and at the “self”. It can be expressed as an eating disorder, self-sabotage, self-harm or self-deprecation. It comes out of a seen “failure” on the part of the person expressing it. (note this is an oversimplification of this form of anger if you are interested to know more I would suggest you investigate further.)
Constructive Anger – A form of anger that is often seen as positive as it can lead to motivations for change. We can use this type of anger to get something done, complete a project, protest against something in a peaceful way, stand up for ourselves. The idea is that you do something positive with this anger.
When looking at the above list we can see that sometimes they overlap – as I stated already. But what we must do is see if there is one particular type of anger that s showing up in our lives more and more often. If it is of a positive nature great, but if it is destructive, then we have to ask for help immediately. Anger management techniques are one form of help. If you notice you are using self-inflicted anger in any form as a means of expressing your anger you should see help immediately. Passive-aggressive, overwhelmed types of anger need help too, we need to learn to stand up for ourselves and construct health boundaries including expression of anger techniques in a health form. Where can I get help? Your first port of call could be to see your doctor who should be able to refer you to some local services for you type of anger.
Still unsure about your anger? Look at these questions, answer them, try some of the techniques suggested to get you started. (Please be honest with yourself, reaching out for help is a courageous act.)
- Anger is not an unhealthy emotion. It can be expressed in unhealthy ways. You can ask yourself these questions: Does it help you get what you want without hurting anyone else? Does it lead to more positive experiences than negatives ones? Is it respectful? Write down your answers reflect on them.
- Anger has a start, middle and an end. It comes in graduations, from mild irritation to annoyance, from anger to rage. Take time to understand and get to know the difference between each of these.
- Start to notice whether the intensity of your anger is appropriate to the situation. It would be helpful to notice other people’s reactions to similar situations.
- Try other ways to cope with anger particularly if this anger is related to old memories. Writing, painting, drawing, poetry and making a collage.
- Give yourself a time out, take a walk, remove yourself from the situation and count to 10 or longer if needed.
- Reflect upon your anger. Don’t judge it just observe it. Notice the thoughts, feelings, perceptions, sensations and predictions.
- Learn the most common triggers to your anger. Is it appropriate? Is it related to the past? Do you need help with your past experiences to let this anger go?
- Sometimes we have had a bad experience around anger. In this situation we find it difficult to express any anger at all and turn it inwards instead. In this case it may be worthwhile to speak to a therapist.
- Sometimes we can use a couple of techniques to help us: we need to fake it till we make! Use a child’s baseball foam bat to bang the furniture – just simply bang on a piece of furniture for a minute or two. Another technique is to do wall pushing – where you imagine someone you’re angry at and by placing your hands on the wall and then push. You can yell at the wall at the same time as you push. It’s worth it to write down then, how you felt, what emotions come up for you?