Why do people get angry?
Anger is a normal and healthy emotion experienced by everyone at some point. Sometimes, anger can be a positive emotion, driving us to right wrongs or fix injustices. But sometimes a person’s anger can become uncontrollable and harmful—and it can even lead to violent behavior.
There are many different reasons why people get angry. Some reasons why you might be feeling angry include:
- Being treated unfairly
- Having no control over things
- Being stressed or under a lot of pressure
- Experiencing body changes, which cause major mood swings
- Being depressed
- Having a personality that has a short fuse
All of these things can lead to anger, which is an OK feeling to have. Anger can be a difficult emotion to express and manage, particularly because we have often been taught not to show or express our anger. It is not uncommon to feel guilty or ashamed about being angry, even though it’s a very normal and necessary emotion.
Anger only becomes unhealthy when it’s expressed in a way that hurts others or yourself. Likewise, if you bottle up your anger and don’t express it at all, you might find that it will come out in ways that you didn’t expect. There are many ways of expressing your anger, but becoming violent should never be an option.
Seeing Anger as an Opportunity
Our minds and bodies are so complex and the way they try to communicate things to us is through pain and emotions. When we realize that our feelings and emotions are just messengers, we can start to get curious about what is actually trying to be said. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. We’re going to break it down for you.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What made me angry?
- Was it the other person or event that made me angry or was it something else?
- Am I feeling fear, guilt, or hurt in some other way underneath this anger?
- Where am I feeling this anger in my body?
- How can I move this feeling through me in a productive way?
Understand & Release
It’s important to acknowledge the anger, try to understand why it’s coming up, recognizing if it’s actually fear or guilt underneath the anger, and how to productively release the anger from your body.
Releasing it could look like:
- Angry scribbling
- Headbanging to death metal
- Punching your mattress
- Going for a run
- Lifting weights
You can use any expression that allows you to feel the anger, without judgment and without hurting anyone else, so you can release it and let it go. Holding onto anger sends the message to yourself that you deserve to deny your feelings or to not have your needs met, which isn’t true. All of you deserves to be recognized and witnessed so you can feel safe expressing yourself.
Expressing Your Anger in Destructive Ways
Just as everyone feels angry from time to time, everyone also expresses their anger in different ways. Some ways are more constructive than others, and chances are, you’ve learned how to express your anger and frustration from the people in your life or the situations you grew up in.
Violent behavior, toward oneself and others, can result from anger. It is one way that people express anger and try to control the situations that they find themselves in—but violence is never a positive or constructive way to deal with your emotions.
Certain factors might put you at a greater risk of acting out violently. These factors might be:
- Seeing others using violence to solve problems
- Finding it acceptable because you’ve seen it done in movies, shows or video games
- Experiencing acts of violence yourself from a bully or family member
If you grew up in a violent household, you might think that it’s OK to deal with your feelings in a physically aggressive way. Research shows that children who grow up in disruptive home situations might have a harder time controlling anger and are more likely to act out violently. This is often called a “cycle of violence.”
Recognizing the Potential for Violence
There are certain warning signs that people might have a hard time controlling their violent behavior. Here are a few examples:
- Regular loss of temper
- Frequent physical fighting
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Vandalism or property destruction
- Harming other living things, like animals
- Making frequent threats toward others
Managing Your Anger and Breaking the Cycle of Violence
The good news is that any learned behavior—such as violence—can also be unlearned. The key is to first take control of situations that make you angry and manage your reaction to frustration.
Here are some tips to get started:
What can I do if I keep getting angry?
If you find that you keep getting angry, or that you are lashing out and regularly becoming violent toward people or things, it may be helpful to speak to a friend or family member, or a healthcare professional like a counselor or your doctor. Speaking to someone may help you identify why you’re getting angry and help you deal with your anger so you don’t need to resort to lashing out.