Has anyone ever told you that you are an angry person? JoJo was a busy mom with two kids and a high-stress job as a nurse. She was prone to angry outbursts at home. Her husband and kids often avoided her when she was in one of her “moods.” The problem was JoJo was always angry. She said it was simply because her job required so much time and energy.
It wasn’t until her husband demanded she get help that JoJo realized she had a problem. She was blaming her job in an effort to cover up the fact that she had a serious anger issue.
Like JoJo, you might have an anger problem and not even realize it. People often express their anger in different ways, but they usually share four common triggers. We organize them into buckets: frustrations, irritations, abuse, and unfairness.
Sure, anger gets a bad rep. However, feeling anger doesn’t mean you’re bad or wrong. It simply means you are human. Everyone on earth, no matter how calm or tranquil, has anger issues sometimes. And getting mad isn’t something to be ashamed of.
During stress, anger is appropriate. Particularly, since it puts your body on alert and ready to act, anger can even be helpful. But anger’s bad rep didn’t come out of nowhere. And if you’re an angry person as opposed to someone who gets angry all the time, then it’s an issue that you might need some help with.
Here are a few warning signs that you’re secretly angry…
Sign #1: You’re Passive Aggressive
Passive aggressiveness is a front for anger because it allows you to express your displeasure without coming out and directly saying it or confronting the person you’re angry with. An example of being passive-aggressive is when someone asks you if your coworker is running late, and you say “When isn’t she running late?”
Another way to be passive-aggressive is to agree to do things on the surface and then attempt to quietly sabotage them later on. You might do this by failing to cooperate with others who need your insight. Another way to be passive-aggressive is to offer to help on a project then make intentional mistakes when you do help.
Often, passive aggressiveness stems from resentment. You might feel like you have to be a good person, and that means you can’t say no to your mother-in-law. Or you might feel like you can’t say no to your boss because you need your job too much. These kinds of thoughts lead you to behave in ways that make it obvious you’re not really happy with the other person or the situation.
Sign #2: Everything is An Attack
Another sign that you’re dealing with anger issues is that you have a tendency to think everything others say or do is a direct attack on you. For example, you’re loading the dishwasher and your partner comes in to ask why you’re loading it that way.
Rather than ask for clarification about the question, you immediately fly into a rage and tell your partner that if they could do it better, they should do it themselves.
Often when you view everything as an attack, you don’t take the time to analyze someone’s tone or body language. Instead, you immediately jump to the defensive and assume they were thinking the worst of you.
It’s important to remember that most people are not attempting to make you feel bad or shamed when they ask a question or make a statement. Many times, those around you are genuinely curious or just want to offer their advice. They don’t have ill intent, but when you get angry, they also jump to the defensive. This can create conflict and stress in your relationships.
Sign #3: You’re Always Focused On “Should”
Often, those who have anger issues spend a lot of time living in the land of “should.” Maybe you should have gotten that promotion. Perhaps you’re still upset believing that you should have had a better childhood. You should have had perfect health.
Another common version of “should” is the “if only” trap. Yes, if only your mother hadn’t been an alcoholic, you wouldn’t be so angry. If only your boss recognized your hard work, you wouldn’t be so miserable at your job. If only the doctor could help you, you would be perfectly healthy.
Focusing on the things you should’ve had or the “if only” in your life will make you downright miserable. Not only that, but this kind of mindset fosters feelings of anger, resentment, and bitterness. You can’t focus on the good things in your life because you’re so busy looking at what you lack.
Sign #4: You’re Depressed
For some people, depression is due to a chemical imbalance within the brain. This is an important medical problem that needs to be addressed so that you can receive treatment. However, for some people, depression can be a symptom of anger.
You might be surprised to learn that repressed anger often shows up later in your life as depression. For example, if you had a bad childhood and tell yourself you’ve let it go, but you develop depression later on in life, then it might be a sign that you have repressed anger you’ve never dealt with.
The thing about repressed anger as depression is that it’s not something you can self-diagnose. It needs to be addressed by a licensed counselor or therapist who can help you work through your feelings and heal from your pain.
Sign #5: Others Are Afraid to Talk to You
Another sign that you might have anger issues is that others are afraid to talk to you about important issues that affect your work or home life. For example, coworkers hesitate to ask you for help or favors because you have such a surly demeanor.
But this can also affect your relationships outside of work. Your spouse might comment on your angry attitude, and your children might go out of their way to avoid you. This can create an environment where those around you feel as if they’re walking on eggshells and one wrong move might send you into a rage.
Sign #6: Little Things Send You into a Tailspin
Everyone encounters little annoyances each day. You get cut off in traffic. Maybe you have to wait in a long line at the grocery store. Or perhaps you spilled a coffee on yourself. Many of these are minor day-to-day irritations.
When you encounter them, you feel angry or annoyed for a little while. But the feeling doesn’t linger for long and you don’t find yourself repeatedly dwelling on it.
But if you routinely notice that small things send you into a tailspin, it might be time to evaluate whether you’re dealing with chronic anger. This chronic anger isn’t good for you mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Sign #7: You Can Carry a Grudge the Longest
A friend upsets you. She already knows that no matter how many times she apologizes, you’re going to nurse that grudge. Your partner says something unsupportive. He already knows that no matter what he says, you’re going to bring it up in every argument in the future.
If you were hurt by someone else’s actions, it’s natural to feel frustrated, hurt, or even angry. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re known among your friends and family as the one that can carry a grudge for the longest time, then perhaps you have an anger issue.
The problem isn’t the anger. It’s that you can’t forgive someone for making a mistake or saying a hurtful comment. Instead, you carry around the moment and use it for ammunition every chance you get.
Stop Anger Outbursts During Conflict Situations
Anger is a natural human emotion. We all get angry, we all get frustrated and we all lose control of our emotions at times. Developing self-control and being able to control our emotions is a highly desirable life skill! If a situation is distressing, anger is often our first reaction.
Some people are better able to control their anger outbursts better than others. Are you one of those people, or do your emotions get the better of you?
Anger can be destructive in so many ways. It can affect our personal relationships, work relationships, and our own mental and physical health. Not being able to control your anger can make a conflict situation even worse.
While we cannot always control a given situation, we can always control how we react to it, if we choose to do so. There are things you can do to help stop anger outbursts during conflict situations. Here are just a few.
Take a Deep Breath and Calm Yourself
That sounds easy, doesn’t it? When we have our blood boiling, and our fuse is lit, closing our eyes and staying calm is not as easy as it sounds. Staying calm during an anger outburst can seem an impossible task.
However, you are capable of calming yourself. All you have to do is stop and breathe. To trigger yourself, stop and say one word. BREATHE!
Deep breathing, which is also called diaphragmatic breathing, can help you relax. It helps you release the tension in your muscles and your mind. If you don’t know how to take a big deep breath that goes all the way down to your diaphragm, place your hand just above your navel and breath. Can you feel your stomach expand instead of your upper chest? If so, well done! This very simple calming technique can help you regain composure so you can think more clearly.
Change The Way You Think
Our mindset plays a big role in how we deal with our anger. When we are emotionally charged, we tend to exaggerate situations. A situation may appear to be bigger than it is. Tell yourself that being angry isn’t helping anyone, especially yourself. All it is doing is raising your blood pressure and causing you undue stress. If you remain angry it may only worsen the situation, especially if your anger causes you to respond irrationally.
If you can change your mindset, you can take control of your emotions and possibly the situation.
Stop, Listen, and Plan Your Solution
Have you stopped to listen to the person you are angry with? Have you taken in everything they have to say and understand their point of view? Do you have a plan that you can both work towards?
If you do that’s great, if you don’t, you need to stop, listen and plan a solution. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make us angry and irritable that cause huge, overwhelming frustration. Something has to give and it can often be our emotions exploding all over someone else. Letting out our frustrations can feel like a sigh of relief, but we can get so carried away by our emotions that we lose sight of what really matters.
While finding a solution to the problem may seem ideal, focusing on its results may frustrate you further. Therefore, focus on a plan you can both work with to reach a solution. As long as you know you are working towards solving the problem, your anger will be reduced. If the desired outcome isn’t achieved, you can always come up with another plan.
Practice Quality Communication
It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It… So Watch What You Say!
Effective communication is one way to handle anger outbursts. Poor communication and usage of words will get you nowhere fast. How many times have you heard an angry person swear and call another person names? Too often most probably.
From this example, you can see how important it is to think before you speak. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, ‘It’s not what you say, but how you say it.’
In the heat of the moment, you may just blurt things out without thinking first, but this is where you need to learn some self-control. Communicating what you really want to say is an important life skill. It will get you everywhere in life. You have to think about your words and how you want to deliver them.
As we said before, stop and take a deep breath, and while you do, think about what you want to say. Once you are composed you can respond appropriately, instead of saying the first things that pop into your mind.
By slowing down, you not only control what you say, but you also become a better listener. Listening intently to a person helps you become a better communicator and can lead both of you to a better understanding of the situation.
Replace Anger with Compassion.
When I feel angry, I work on developing more compassion for myself and others. Compassion makes me happier and healthier.
Perhaps it’s mindful self-care to simply acknowledge your emotions. Admit to yourself that you are angry. Search for the causes and look for positive ways to deal with them. Recognize your part in the situation instead of blaming external forces.
And remember how much you have in common with others. Instead of letting conflicts separate you from others, use them as challenges to draw you closer together. If you feel offended, think about the times that you have offended others.
It might be easier to practice forgiveness when you realize how often you need to be pardoned too.
Try to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. Rather than taking their actions personally or assuming harmful intentions, accept that it could be a misunderstanding, or they could be irritable because they have a headache.
Pause before acting. Focus on constructive and mutually beneficial solutions. Share information and collaborate with others.
Motivate yourself by thinking about how anger affects you. Rage weakens your immune system, raises your blood pressure, and increases anxiety. You’ll look and sound unpleasant. You truly don’t want your relationships to deteriorate and your thinking to become unclear.
You Don’t Have to Be Angry Anymore
Maybe you recognize some of these signs in yourself. Perhaps you are the one who lets little things send you into a tailspin or you rely too much on passive aggressiveness to navigate your relationships. Whatever the case, you don’t have to live this way anymore.
You don’t have to walk around carrying all of this anger and hurt in your heart. It’s exhausting and keeps you from living your best life. That’s why I’ve created a special workbook just for you. It’s called Stop Being Angry All the Time. Download it now!
Today, I transform anger into compassion. I resolve conflicts skillfully and protect my peace of mind.
- How is anger like a prison?
- What is the relationship between anger and aggression?
- What is the difference between suppressing anger and transforming anger?