Managing anger

I saw a segment on TV this morning that started my train of thought going. The segment was on the fact that those who express their anger live, on average, two years longer than those who bottle it up. I know that bottling up anger is bad for your heart, and for your health in general. I also know that years of suppressing anger can lead to a person exploding – i.e. ‘going postal’ as it was termed. That explosion can be catastrophic for not only the person exploding, but also those around him/her.

I was taught from an early age that expressing anger is not okay. We, as women, are supposed to just go along with whatever happens because it isn’t ‘ladylike’ to get angry. So we bottle up the anger and suddenly, sooner or later, we find ourselves depressed, or unhappy with our lives, or suicidal. Men are taught that expressing anger isn’t okay because expressing any emotion is not ‘manly’. So men bottle up their anger until they also find themselves unhappy, depressed, or attacking their loved ones or strangers.

I wonder if this is why we have mass shootings. Do these people just explode from bottling everything up for so long? Have they been bullied? Do they not know how to express what they are feeling? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that we all should learn how to express our feelings in a constructive way.

I don’t get angry very often; I’m an easygoing kind of person. But when I do get angry, I tend to spew words all over the place. I don’t yell; I don’t even raise my voice. The words are preceeded by a deadly calm quiet. My ex and my kids never knew when I would reach my limit, and it happens maybe once in ten or so years, so they never learned the warning signs.

Other people I know tend to rant and rave and jump up and down for hours when they get angry. And some people I know don’t express it at all. We need to teach our kids that expressing emotions is healthy and necessary, because if we don’t tell people how we feel, how are they supposed to know? I’m not advocating that we begin emoting all over the place, but to learn what and when it is appropriate to express ourselves and when it is necessary to just walk away.

20 thoughts on “Managing anger

  1. I get irritated on a regular basis, which I think has been effective in keeping my anger at a bare minimum. Usually my irritation signals that I need to think something through and problem solve. Usually I only lose my temper when I’m exhausted or sick – then some people in my household better straighten up and fly right!

  2. I don’t like expressing my anger, I don’t like it when I lose control and fling unkind words at my husband especially. But I grew up like you, unable to ever express my anger without dire consequences, so learned to bottle it up. And it literally almost killed me. It took a lot of therapy to get me to be able to express my anger outwardly, and then it seemed to just leak out of me everywhere. Now I’m more in the middle than either extreme. And able to calm myself down right after – and in the middle of – my initial outburst of frustration or anger. Figuring out the triggers and working on the “why” of those is my goal now. Fortunately I have a very understanding patient hubby who knows all the “why” of my need to express that anger.

  3. I’ve been working on not exploding; for when I do, I can’t even stand myself. I say things I wished I hadn’t. That’s why I like writing. It’s a way of expressing things that bother me and generally I’m the only one that gets hurt, via typos and stupid mistakes. I don’t like saying mean things to people or hurting other people’s feelings. And anger has a way of doing that.

  4. I get red in the face and say things I wish hadn’t been said, when I get angry and explode. Hubby is very quiet and mild mannered, so I always feel bad if I’m mouthing off. Another reason I don’t getting angry is that I do not think a person makes very wise decisions when they’re upset. So that’s the character revamping that I’m currently working on, regaining calmness before reacting.

  5. Last reply, second line [Another reason I don’t like getting angry, etc.] You can’t correct these replies once they’re posted. Can you!

  6. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expressing anger, Sharon, or any other emotion. The problem arises when our emotions are suppressed or are expressed in an unhealthy way.

  7. I don’t know if you can edit them or not, jabber. But I understand what you’re saying. Exploding in any way isn’t good for us, so it’s great that you’re working on that.

  8. I used to be a volcano, and my husband was a ‘bottler’. We’re each changing, becoming healthier and getting closer to middle ground. From my experience, I’d say the bottling is actually more destructive than the blowing up.

  9. It’s good to express anger, but in a healthy way, without exploding, bottling, or allowing it to turn inward to become depression. Good that both of you are working on it!

  10. Yes, expressing anger in a healthy way is definitely one of the trickiest things for me about interacting with people — like you say, when I’m able to clearly say what I want and don’t want, I don’t find myself feeling angry quite as often, because for me anger often arises from the sense that I’m a victim, which in turn usually stems from not having made clear what I prefer. But of course making that clear is another challenge in itself.

  11. Good points, Chris. I think we don’t necessarily think about what we want or don’t want until someone crosses that line, and then we get angry, which makes us think, which is a good thing. 🙂

  12. Well said, Ruth. After expressing anger, I always end up feeling guilty, wishing I could go back and react differently. But it’s obvious that we’re all equipped with the potential for anger, so it must have a purpose if used properly — much like the guilt I pair it with.

  13. We were not expected to express emotion….but France was a liberator in that respect.
    Faced with some of the disrespect and wilful incomrehension I followed the example of my French friends and blew my top.
    It felt wonderful!

Ruth passed away from cancer. Please remove from list

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