What do you look like when you’re angry? Do you start shouting, banging, and insulting everyone around you? Or do you stand still as if nailed? Or do tears burst out of you? Or is it not visible at all? And what’s happening inside of you? Do you feel okay? Or is there a boiling sensation inside that you’re trying to cope with?


We encounter anger every day. In ourselves and in the people around us. Some people are easy to notice when they are angry. In the best case, they make those who it concerns feel it, and in the worst case, they take it out on everyone who comes their way. And then there are people among us whom we say about: ‘I have never seen them angry in my life. They are such a peaceful person. Nothing can upset them.’ What happens with the anger of these people? Where does it disappear? Unfortunately, it often stays inside and can cause great harm there. Or it finds some inconspicuous way out after all.

The way we express or experience anger (or emotions in general) begins to take shape in our early childhood. The way our parents (or other close persons) approached our own emotions as well as their own significantly affects how we perceive, experience, and express our emotions in adulthood.

On the contrary, if our early models have a problem with aggression, explosiveness, and uncontrollable expression of anger, there is a risk that we will not know how to find constructive ways to deal with it. We may have a much greater tendency to explosiveness, or we may have a panicked fear of expressing anger or engaging in conflict. And so, in every conflict, we remain paralyzed.

When we are confronted from an early age with the idea that we must not get angry, that it is bad, that we must always be kind and peaceful, strong inner conviction can remain in us that anger must be hidden at all costs and if we feel it, it means that we are bad. The truth, however, is that anger does not just evaporate. It always finds a way. But when anger goes through indirect paths, it is usually not a win for ourselves or our environment.


When anger goes out, but unnoticed

Despite appearing calm, anger can be strongly felt within us. For example, in the form of passive aggression. Many married couples could talk about how tension and anger can fester in quiet households, and how silence can torment people.

Another subtle but insidious alternative is irony. Some people are masters at striking blows at the most sensitive places – all with a smile on their face and a final remark: “I’m just joking anyway.”

Sometimes, by venting our anger through side roads, we release only a part of it, and even with its expression, we are not satisfied, because it does not lead to a constructive solution. Additionally, we can greatly distress our loved ones this way, despite feeling that we have protected them from our anger. As a result, we often don’t feel good ourselves, nor do our loved ones, and the conflict remains unresolved.

When anger stays inside

Sometimes it happens that we can’t get our anger out in any form – whether constructive or not. We hold everything inside and hope it will just disappear. After a while, the anger may seem to have passed, but not because it disappeared or because we dealt with it. In reality, it just found another way out. One of the significant channels it can flow through when there is no other option is our body. It can transform into various psychosomatic problems. Sometimes it may just be sudden headaches or pressure on the chest or abdominal pain. However, if we don’t give our emotions space for an extended period and are also exposed to stressful situations, it can lead to more severe psychosomatic difficulties. Our body can no longer cope with the fact that what is happening inside and what we are expressing externally is not in harmony. The inability to express anger is also one of the reasons that leads to the development of depression. Experts refer to depression as “anger turned against oneself”.

3 veci, ktoré môžete urobiť hneď, keď pocítite hnev

We don’t choose our emotions, they simply come

Emotional experience is a part of all of us. All of us. Not just women. Situations and things that happen to us evoke emotions. They simply come, and we can’t choose what they will be. There’s no reason to feel guilty about whatever emotion emerges in a particular moment. At the same time, it’s not true that emotions should rule over us. We can influence how we process and express them. For example, when we feel anger, we can either destroy the first person who comes in our way or seek constructive ways to express it.

If we wanted to forbid ourselves from feeling certain emotions (such as anger, but also sadness when experiencing loss), or if we wanted to push them away by will, we would be deceiving ourselves. We lose contact with ourselves. We lose contact with our entire emotional experience – both positive and negative. Our psyche cannot filter out one emotion and leave the others accessible. That is why it often happens that a person who cannot express anger cannot experience joy, carefreeness, or cannot easily relax or enjoy the present moment. They remain overall numb and stiff in their experiences. This is the only way they can protect themselves from negative emotions that they fear. Suppressing negative emotions is also a very exhausting process that takes away a lot of energy. There is then not much energy left for experiencing the positive ones. However, if we accept, perceive, and become aware of our emotions, they become significant helpers in our lives. They serve as a compass that helps us orient ourselves within ourselves and in interpersonal relationships. They help us decide which direction to take, where our place is and where it is not, what we should engage in and what we should avoid, inform us about danger, and our needs. When our emotions are visible to others, we become more readable to them, and often more attractive or interesting. At the same time, we send a signal that we are capable of accepting other people’s emotions, that they can confide in us, and that we can process and accept them.

How to manage anger constructively?

Alright then. Anger has its purpose, it cannot just evaporate, it cannot be filtered out without bringing its sacrifices. It is natural and it is good to know how to express it. But how to do it constructively? Here are a few tips:

First step – stop and perceive what I am feeling right now.

The first step in working with emotions is to try to connect with our own experiences. Often, we have developed and nurtured strategies over the years to disconnect from our emotions. When we feel ashamed, we start to laugh. When we are sad, we quickly engage in some activity to distract ourselves. When we are angry, we pretend to be nice and make an “innocent” ironic remark. Outwardly, we act as if everything is fine, but inside we are boiling. How do we get out of this? Let’s be honest with ourselves. Only with ourselves. We don’t have to share with every person who crosses our path. But when we feel that we’re not okay, let’s stop our thoughts and ask ourselves: “What’s happening to me right now? What kind of feeling is this? Why did it upset me so much?” And let’s allow ourselves to feel this emotion for a moment.

We often fear stopping at a negative emotion. What if it overwhelms us? What if we feel even worse? In reality, an unpleasant feeling often subsides precisely because we consciously give it space to manifest. The mere thought that we know what we’re feeling and that it’s normal to feel that way gives us a sense of freedom and relaxation. Recognizing and accepting that we are experiencing anger gives us a chance to work with it further.

Second step – to reflect on what the real cause is.

When we realize what we feel and stay in contact with it for a while, we can ask ourselves why it is so and where it came from. For example: “Today everything is getting on my nerves. I am feeling nervous… It is true that I slept badly last night. And I also got angry about what my husband said to me yesterday.” So maybe I will realize that I reacted nervously to the child, but in fact it was not his fault. At this moment, I gain a better overview of my experience and can make a decision – for example, to stop shouting at the child and talk to my husband when he comes home – about what made each of us angry and how it could be resolved.

Third step – to connect the current experience with my personal history.

They don’t have to be any big analyses. But realizing the roots of our functioning can greatly help us to understand and accept ourselves. At the same time, it is a way to better function in relationships.

For example: “I can’t oppose my boss, even though I know he is unfair. I could never oppose my father either. Every time I spoke up, it was followed by a beating. When my boss raises his voice, I remain rooted to the spot and can’t even utter a word.”

Fourth step – to separate the past from the present.

When I am able to reflect and understand why a certain situation evoked such a strong reaction in me, I can have much more control over what I will do with it. To abandon old and try new, more functional ways of processing anger (and other emotions) can only be done when I know what I want to leave behind. I can only know that when I allow myself to get to know myself and accept both the positive and negative aspects of my experience.

So I can say to myself: “Okay, but my boss is not my father. And I am no longer a little girl. I have the right to express my opinion. And my boss can give me feedback, but what he said crossed the boundaries of decency.”

Step Five – Expressing Anger

If we allow ourselves to think in this way, we are already very close to being able to say it out loud. Politely, but clearly defining our boundaries. The more we are able to remain in the realm of describing our experience, the greater the chance that the listener will accept our feedback. It also helps to stay focused on a specific problem/situation instead of making generalizations.

For example, instead of making an accusatory and generalized statement: “Whenever I come home from work, you automatically expect me to take care of the kids. Do you think I’ve been resting all day? Do you think you’re the only one who’s tired? You don’t appreciate my work at all!”

…try to be specific, describe your own experience and needs, and maybe even suggest a solution: “It makes me angry when I come home from work after a long day and you immediately expect me to take care of the kids. I enjoy being home with them and playing with them, but I need at least 15 minutes to relax first. Then I can take care of them and you can take a break.”
Anger is not weakness. Anger is a gift that informs us when someone has crossed or threatened our personal boundaries. It also helps us recognize our sensitive areas so that we can work on strengthening them. Perhaps we would like to be supernatural beings who are impervious to everything. Beings who never feel anything negative. However tempting that may sound, I think it would be a shame. When we turn off our emotional experiences, when we lose contact with our emotions, we are deprived of so much good… It’s like burying a large part of ourselves.