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What Is Your Name For Anger?

Image of pink rose against dark green background.

What's in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other word would smell as sweet....

William Shakespear

Anger is a difficult emotion, and one of which many people are afraid. I find in my work that most people are hesitant to use the words “angry” or “mad” to describe their feelings. They use substitute words or slang expressions to describe how they feel; thereby avoiding the word “angry”. This creates a situation where their feelings are being mislabeled.

I cannot stress enough the importance of properly identifying your emotions in the moment. As I said in an earlier article, we have feelings for a reason. They are clues to tell us how we are responding to a situation, and how we need to act so that we can take care of ourselves. The action you take when you feel angry needs to be different from when you are feeling sad, lonely, or afraid.

Let's look at my own list of the top 10 words and expressions that we substitute for anger, and what they actually mean:

1. Frustrated:

This is a feeling that comes from an inability to get something done or to achieve a goal. It is used toward the person, place, thing or event that prevents progress. For example: “My boss frustrates me. She is such a micro-manager that I cannot be creative in my job.”

2. Annoyed:

Is a mild irritation. It is the beginning of anger, and if not properly labeled and addressed, it builds over time and turns into all-out anger. For example: your partner leaves dirty dishes in the sink. It does not bother him or her, but you want a clean kitchen. You tell yourself that it is an inconvenience and you are just annoyed. For the next several days, you find dirty dishes in the sink when you arrive home from work. Your annoyance is building. Then one day, you arrive home from work tired. Once again, there are dirty dishes. The anger that you feel boils over and a fight ensues.

3. It bugs me:

This saying is used many times when there is a repetitive annoyance. “It really bugs me when my mother keeps asking me where I am going. I am 30 years old and don’t need to check in with her.”

4. Sullen:

This is a low profile, passive aggressive from of anger. Sulking is used as a description of one’s behavior, attitude or demeanor. It is that silent, withdrawn and scowling presence. It creates a heaviness in the air without any words or action.

5. Exasperated:

This is what you feel when you're running out of patience. Let's say you take your car to be repaired because you hear a rattle under the hood. The bill is high, but you're glad to have it fixed. The next day, the rattle is back. You return to the mechanic and the car is “fixed” again. This time another problem is found and off you go, unhappy about the charge yet happy to have your car back. A week later, the rattle has returned; at this point you are exasperated with the mechanic and your car.

6. I am at the end of my rope:

This pertains to having worked, over time, to accomplish something or stop a behavior. You feel of powerless to make an impact. “I am at the end of my rope with all the delays in the project.”

7. Indignant:

A feeling of strong displeasure at something that is offensive, insulting or unjust. It is expressed by the look on your face and words such as, “How dare she treat me that way. That was insulting.”

8. Resentful:

Resentment is connected to feeling that something is unfair and is accompanied by feelings of jealousy. If not dealt with, resentment can fester into bitterness, angry words and actions. Albert and Edith worked on a project at work. Albert received most of the credit for the work. Edith felt it was unfair that he got the more praise than she did. She felt resentful.

9. Impatient:

We've all been here - becoming annoyed at delays, having or showing a tendency to be quickly irritated, and not willing to wait for something to happen. Ethan is the father of three children. He becomes impatient with his children in the mornings when they are slow to get dressed and he is delayed.

10. Grumpy:

Unhappy, dissatisfied, irritable, surly or ill-tempered; grouchy. In the fairy tale “Snow White,” one of the elves was named Grumpy because that was how he acted all the time. Grumpy can also denote a temporary mood.

Aaron gets grumpy when he is tired and hungry.

These are just a few of the words used to describe how you feel without naming your feelings of anger. In each case, it helps you avoid facing your feelings and what is causing them. This leads to “acting out” your feelings rather than dealing with them in a productive way. Anger is your friend and can help you when it is understood.

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