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What Kind of Angry Are You?

Image of 3 metal chairs with peeling paint. Raleigh Psychotherapy, counseling, angry, Katherine Broadway

Think about the last two weeks. How many times would you have described yourself as “angry”? If we're honest about it, we could all say, “Quite a few times,” not because we are angry people, but because the word itself covers so many states of mind, and so many means of expressing it.

A few examples:

  • Sally keeps silent when she is angry, believing that the more you talk about a situation the worse it gets.

  • When Sue gets angry, she explodes with loud accusations.

  • Tom decided long ago the best way to settle a dispute was to get even, no matter long it took.

  • Jack finds that if he hurts himself when he is angry, he calms down and soon forgets the conflict.

  • Martha is angry and irritable all the time; it seems that is the only feeling she can feel.

  • Don works very hard at work and does everything he can to do a

  • good job, criticism brings an enraged response.

Do you fit one of those categories? More than one? The more you can identify what type of anger you are feeling or is being expressed toward you, the better you will be able to develop strategies to handle them. The goal is to learn to identify your anger and turn it toward a positive purpose.

Luckily, you don't have to take one of those magazine quizzes to find out what kind of angry you are. Here's a closer look at six types of anger. As you read them consider which of these you feel most often, and which do you find the most difficult to deal with when it is turned toward you.

Six Types Of Anger

1. Passive Anger:

The belief associated with this anger is that it is better not to talk

about it because bad things will happen. It is usually rooted in a fear of anger. Anger is stored inside and becomes stronger as time moves forward. You look calm on the outside but inside you are in turmoil. When this type of anger gets expressed it come out “sideways,” through sarcasm, negative gestures, avoiding eye contact, ignoring others. May times it is directed at a different target than the one with whom you are upset. It leads to isolation.

2. Aggressive Anger:

This is the angry parent yelling at the coach during their child’s ballgame.

Aggressive anger is usually expressed directly with outburst of negative emotions, either verbally or physically. It is done through threats, verbal abuse, expressing negative emotions in ways that scare and intimidate others. Using a loud or threatening voice, jabbing an index finger, or making large arm motions during a confrontation can be a form of aggressive anger.

3. Retaliatory Anger:

This is a specific form of aggressive anger that comes from a perceived wrongdoing. It fuels the fire of revenge that can last for years. This also includes harassment in any form. It can be heard in the words, ”I will show you!”

4. Self-Injury Anger:

This is anger turned toward oneself. It is used to hurt and punish. Most people think of this as physical harm, but it is also expressed as self-sabotage and self-criticism. It comes from the belief that one is not good enough or does not deserve good things such as success, relationships, love and happiness. Feelings of

shame and guilt can lead to this type of anger.

5. Habitual Anger:

This is the constant state of irritation and anger over small things as well as large things. It is a substitute for other feelings such as fear and pain or even happiness. These feelings are experienced as vulnerability and therefore dangerous. It is rooted in fear. This type of anger forms early in life. It becomes a survival mechanism in order to protect oneself from vulnerability created by feeling these other emotions.

6. Shame-Based Anger:

This type of anger is triggered by a feeling of not being a good-enough

person. Because of this belief, these people work very hard to get

things right. When they fall short, constructive criticism triggers their shame.

That feels so intolerable that they must push it away. Any small criticism or misunderstanding can trigger their shame-based anger and cause them to react in aggressive ways.

7. Constructive Anger:

This anger is not personalized but is focused on issues that affect others and society. Anger becomes your ally and manifests through actions, such as working for social justice by writing letters, sending emails and participating in non-violent protest. The individuals who participated in Moral Monday were using their anger to stand up for what they believed. Anger channeled in the right direction can bring about positive change.

8. Assertive Anger:

Assertive anger is expressed directly to the individual with whom you are upset. It is done in the most responsible, respectful way as possible. It is taking responsibility for your anger by expressing it in a way that does not lead to damage to the relationship. The reasons for being angry are expressed clearly with an open mind to seeing the other person’s point of view. It is considered a productive use of anger and can bring resolution to differences.

Anger can be destructive or constructive. It can bring harm to self and

others, or it can be used to resolve problems, clear misunderstandings and bring change. When expressed constructively anger can help develop and nurture relationships.

Do you have trouble expressing your anger in constructive ways? Over the years, I have helped many people to learn to use their anger in effective ways. Call me at (919)881-2001.

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