Feeling angry

Anger is an important emotion. It:

  • Tells you that your needs or someone else's needs aren't being met
  • Tells you that you may have been treated (or may have treated someone else) unfairly or disrespectfully
  • Is a cue that something needs to be done to mend hurt feelings

Anger can also have unwanted or destructive results. If you aren't careful about how you express your anger, you risk destroying a friendship or a relationship that you care about.

It's important to distinguish between feeling angry from time to time and feeling angry all the time. Feeling angry sometimes is normal and healthy. Feeling angry all the time can lead to loneliness and depression.

Taking the time to learn what makes you angry, becoming aware of how you deal with your anger, and learning how to constructively express angry feelings, will save you considerable frustration and heartache.

Facts about anger

  • Bottled up anger can become explosive and ruin important relationships
  • It's healthy to say what makes you angry
  • It's OK to feel angry as long as you don't hurt others, yourself or property
  • Violent anger is NEVER OK

Know what makes you angry

  • Write a list of things and situations that make you angry
  • Write a list of cues your body gives you that indicate you are getting angry

Know how you deal with anger

  • Do you react emotionally in quick outbursts and say things that get you into trouble and/or that you regret?
  • Do you not say anything in the moment but quietly plot your revenge?
  • Do you get angry with the wrong person because you're afraid to confront the person with whom you're actually angry?
  • Do you keep your feelings inside because you feel too uncomfortable expressing your anger?
  • Do you keep your feelings inside because you are afraid that if you do get angry you won't be able to control what you say or do?
  • Do you express your feelings and your needs?
  • Do you stand up for yourself or others when you feel that a situation is unfair?

Here are some exercises that can help you identify your anger style:

  • Draw a portrait of your angriest self
  • Keep an anger diary where you describe situations that made you angry and how you reacted
  • Have an imaginary conversation with a person who has made you angry - think about what you say, do and feel

Take time to think about the way you usually deal with your anger and the consequences of your particular style. Are you satisfied with the results? Do you think that you could achieve more positive results if you dealt with your anger differently?

Expressing your anger in positive ways

  • Separate people from problems
  • Look for a real solution as opposed to revenge
  • Express feelings to clarify the situation - not to blame others
  • Use "I" statements such as "I feel angry when ________ (describe what happened) because _______ (say why it upset you) and I would like _______ (state what you think is the best solution to the problem)"
  • Avoid "you" statements as they put the other person on the defensive.

Coping with anger can be very challenging. Talking to a trusted adult about the way you feel can help. And remember you can always call one of the counsellors at Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 — it's confidential and free.

Last Reviewed September 2012 by the Kids Help Phone Counselling Team

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