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ARRGGHH….ANGER!!!

Updated: Mar 17, 2023


So what comes to mind when you first think of anger?


I never get angry...

Leave me alone in my cave...

I’m so angry I need to shout/scream/hit something...

Anger scares me...

Angry people are obnoxious...

I'm seething but I am not going to show it...

Phew! I feel a lot better for blowing a gasket...


Have you noticed that our culture, upbringing or personal experiences have a lot to do with whether we view anger as something that is a natural, positive and healthy emotion or something to be ashamed of, denied and suppressed. Perhaps we have internalised beliefs such as:


Nice people do not get angry

Anger hurts people

If I get angry I might lose control and hurt someone/something

Anger begets retaliation

People will reject me if I show anger


Important to note is that unexpressed anger can lead not only to anxiety and depression, but can also cause physical symptoms such as stomach ulcers, a racing heart, high blood pressure and so on.


The difficulty is that if we have grown up believing that anger is somehow wrong, it may be that we don’t even recognise it when it shows up. Perhaps road rage grinds you down, but deep down you know that it isn’t the other driver who is making you angry; it is just a useful outlet for it to leak out.


We may not notice that behind the anger there may also be a huge range of other emotions going on. Take a look at Plutchik’s wheel of emotion for example. In the orange section you will see a whole range of emotions that are related to anger but there may also be elements of the blue and brown emotions thrown into the mix as well! No wonder anger can be complicated!



It is, in fact, one of the first emotions we experience as infants and is a warning signal to aid survival. It can be an energising motivator for change – for example, Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian who helped to abolish the slave trade. It can empower us and motivate us to change our lives for the good.


But, as we all know, anger can be a relationship wrecker when it lasts too long, is too aggressive, (or passive aggressive) and is too often.


Nicky and Sila Lee describe people as either hedgehogs or rhinos...


“If you tend to be a “rhino”, chances are you’re willing to get aggressive when dealing with difficult issues. You’ll want to ‘have it out’ in a fight, rather than walk away from the problem. A rhino charges straight in, horn pointed and ready to attack.

But if you’re a “hedgehog”, you’re much more likely to want to avoid conflict. When things get challenging, you’ll want to stop the conflict by shutting down. A hedgehog curls up in a ball and sticks its prickly spines out so no one can hurt it.” 1



Which one are you?!


Aristotle said:

“The Man who gets angry at the right things and with the right people, and in the right way, and at the right time, and for the right length of time, is commended”


So how do we get that balance?


There are lots of strategies for identifying the source of anger and healthy ways to express it. Please do contact me if any of this resonates – I would be really happy to work through any ways that anger is showing up in your life and help you move towards a more relaxed and genuine version of you.




Further reading:

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