Read this section to find out more about anger and why you might feel this way...
Anger is a universal human emotion, which means that everyone feels angry from time to time. Anger is an important emotion; it helps us to notice when we think something isn’t right or fair, and it can motivate us to make changes. For example, many civil rights activists are motivated by anger, and they use this emotion to bring about positive social change.
It is important to distinguish between anger as an emotion and what we do in response to feeling angry.
There are four main types of Anger Responses which are outlined below:
Everyone feels angry from time to time, as it is a universal human emotion. If you didn’t ever experience anger, that would be unusual!
We can’t choose whether or not we feel angry; anger is an emotion that we naturally and automatically feel when we think something is unfair or unjust. Feeling angry does not make us an angry person.
Whilst we are unable to choose not to feel anger, we can choose how we respond. It is important to distinguish between angry feelings (which we can’t choose) and what we do when we feel angry (which we can choose).
By understanding how we respond to angry feelings, we are better able to change what we do and choose to respond in way that is calm, clear, and assertive.
Read on to learn more about what may be causing you to experience anger, and what can help you manage this.
Anger occurs when we think something unfair or unjust has happened. There are many reasons why we feel angry, and this will be different for everyone; what makes one person angry may not bother someone else at all.
You may not be aware of why you feel angry; it could be due to stress, feeling out of control, or because you have been affected by an event in your past. Trauma can be a source for anger, and this can impact us beyond the event or injury that occurred.
Sometimes we feel angry because we are being abused, treatly badly, or neglected by someone or a group of people. In this case, our anger is important because it is informing us that this behaviour is unacceptable.
If you are concerned about aggressive responding, particularly if you are violent towards yourself or other people, it is important to ask for help to make sure you, and the people around you, are safe. If you or another person needs urgent help, Get Help Now.
You can find other services offering support in your local area here.
If you feel you or someone you know is being abused or neglected, there are many types of support available. You may want to consider speaking to someone you trust, or you can find further information and support here. If you’re not sure who to talk to, here are some services that may be helpful:
Survivors Network – Sussex
Supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse.
Change Grow Live (CGL) – East Sussex
Supporting anyone aged 16+ who has been affected by domestic abuse.
Victim Support – Sussex
0808 1689 111 (free 24-hour Supportline or online chat)
0808 2000 247 (free 24-hour helpline)
0800 999 5428 (weekdays only)
0808 801 0331 (weekdays only)
Sometimes we can respond assertively to angry feelings, but the thing we want to change doesn’t change. Perhaps the person we are angry at will not or cannot make the change we want them to make.
If this happens, it can be helpful to decide what we can do to make a change, and accept that we can’t force other people to make changes.
We might feel angry because we have experienced abuse or neglect. In this case, we might respond assertively but the person may not be willing to change their abusive or neglectful behaviour. If this happens, it is important to ask ourselves what we can do to change the situation, or speak to someone we trust about what can be done.
This could involve making steps to leave the abusive or neglectful relationship, such as seeking support from a specialist service, a professional such as a counsellor or your GP, or reporting the person to the police or social services.
Sometimes we find it difficult to know when we are feeling angry. If this is true for you, it may be helpful to monitor your angry feelings in a similar way to how you might monitor your temperature. Consider the following options and tick which usually applies to you.
Remember: anger can change from day-to-day because we are faced with different things at different times. If you find this temperature method helpful, you might want to try using this regularly to monitor your angry feelings and responses.
Learn more about how to recognise your angry feelings and ways to manage your anger more effectively.
It can be difficult to identify what is making us angry, and sometimes it may seem to come out of nowhere. You might want to keep a record of times you have felt angry, perhaps by writing these down in your phone or in a diary, to help you identify what might have led to the angry feelings.
Let yourself to pause for a few moments, take a few breaths that are deeper than usual, and try asking yourself the following questions:
Taking time to reflect in this way allows space for us to be more aware of how we are feeling, what we are thinking, what is happening in our body, and what response choices we have. Once we are aware of these, we are better able to respond differently or avoid situations that can trigger our anger.
Once we are aware of our triggers, we can make a plan for how to respond assertively to situations that can cause us to feel angry in future.
Try to plan how you might approach the person(s) who have made you feel angry, and how you could calmly and clearly explain the following:
It can be helpful to make an assertive response plan, especially if this isn’t your usual way of responding. As with any skill, the more you practise responding assertively, the easier it will become. In time, it may even become your automatic way of responding!
Now that you have your assertive response plan, you can put it into action!
You may feel nervous about doing this, particularly if it isn’t your usual response to anger. It’s OK to feel unsure – it takes time to move away from our automatic responses and change to a different way of responding.
Once you have starting using your assertive response plan, it can be helpful to reflect on how you experienced this. You could ask yourself the following questions:
Remember: while responding assertively is the most effective way to bring about change, we can’t force other people to change. We can only choose to make changes in ourselves, so if our assertive responses don’t have the outcome we hoped for, it is more helpful to focus on what changes we can make.
Self-care is important for everyone, and regularly practising this can make it easier for us to respond calmly to situations that make us angry.
Think about things you enjoy or that help you to relax – these could be something you do at any time, or as a way of calming your angry feelings when you notice them. We all enjoy different things; while one activity might be helpful for someone, you may find something else more effective for helping you feel better.
Here are just a few ideas of what could help you find your calm:
You may find that after trying the previous suggestions, you still feel overwhelmed by your anger. You may find that your response to angry feelings still tends to be aggressive, passive-aggressive, or submissive, and you may feel frustrated that it has not changed. This is very common; learning to respond assertively can take a lot of practise, especially if we are not used to it.
If you are struggling with your anger, seeking further support can make a big difference.
Try speaking to a close friend or partner, or someone else that you trust. It may feel difficult to talk about, so try to find a place (e.g. in a quiet room or outside while going for a walk) where you feel comfortable having an open conversation.
Alternatively, your GP can provide you with information about professional support that may be helpful for you. For example, you could find a local support group where you can talk to others who share experiences and concerns around managing anger.
If you’re not sure who to talk to, you can search for services offering support in your local area here.