If you consider yourself to be cool, calm, and collected, there’s a strong possibility you’re actually more enraged than you realise (or want to admit).
Many people end up masked anger since it’s not a very socially acceptable feeling. They may have been so adept at hiding their anger for so long that they occasionally lose awareness of it.
As a psychologist, I frequently work with clients who adamantly claim they aren’t angry, only to discover that a large portion of their most harmful attitudes and routines are the consequence of unresolved anger.
Anger is not always a terrible thing. However, the side effects can lead to a lot of misery for you and the people in your life if you are not self-aware enough to see it.
Here are five indicators that you might be more angry than you realise, as well as some advice on how to manage your anger constructively.
1. Passive-Aggressive Communication
When people feel great anger but are unable to express it, they become passive-aggressive.
When someone is passive-aggressive, they act aggressively to achieve what they want but try to cover it up so that they don’t have to take responsibility for the results of their aggression.
Here are a few instances to clarify:
- regularly being late for appointments or meetings, but always being prepared with an explanation.
- Right before you were going to meet up with that friend you don’t particularly like but feel compelled to hang out with occasionally, you “had” a stomach ache.
- completing tasks around the office in a way that forces someone else to do them.
This tendency of passive aggression is problematic since it is short-lived and ineffective.
- Eventually, the important people in your life start to view you as erratic, unpredictable, and careless. Your relationships suffer as a result, and you experience a growing sense of loneliness.
- Furthermore, you also deeply believe that this is how you see yourself. Chronic poor self-esteem, shame, and self-loathing are the outcomes.
Practice being more aggressive if you want to break the pattern of passive-aggression. This entails learning to recognise your rage and frustration and to use it as motivation when necessary. But to do it in a way that is respectful of others’ needs and wants while yet being true to your own.
Increasing your assertiveness does not include suppressing your wrath. To cope with it in a healthy way rather than having it “come out” in unhealthy ways, it involves validating it and acknowledging it.
2. Chronic Anxiety
Because they will accept any level of stress in order to avoid feeling angry, many people develop chronic anxiety.
Chronically worried persons appear to be the complete opposite of angry. They appear to be meek, unassuming, or even pushovers, if anything.
The issue is this though:
Even if you don’t appear or act angry, you may still be feeling angry.
We all experience anger naturally as a response to wrongdoing or boundary violations. For instance:
- It’s only reasonable to be upset if a bully steals your lunch at school.
- You will feel indignant if you see a news item about an innocent person being mistreated or exploited.
- You’ll probably get upset if your partner mocks your outfit in a mocking manner.
Anger serves as both a catalyst for justice to be done as well as a sign that some injustice has been done.
- If no one were upset about racism and slavery, where would the civil rights movement be?
- If no one protested against oppression and fascism, where would democracy be?
However, a lot of people have such intense anxiety and stress levels because they are afraid of getting upset or making others angry.
Take the little boy who was raised by an alcoholic and violent mom, for instance. As a young child, he rapidly saw that expressing his own rage and dissatisfaction only led to violence and harm.
He has developed the practise of suppressing his rage even though he is no longer in danger. He never speaks up for himself as a result.
- He works far too hard at his job, which causes him constant stress. All because he is reluctant to voice his resentment over assigning too much work.
- Because he is terrified of his spouse’s resentment and the argument that would result if he stood up for himself, he continues to be in a verbally abusive relationship. He is therefore constantly concerned about offending his wife.
- Even when he needs to discipline his kids, he struggles because he fears both his and their wrath. As a result, he worries constantly about how his children are developing.
Whatever you choose to call it: moaning, bitching, whining, etc. But if you do it frequently, you’re probably more angry than you think when it’s all said and done.
With friends, family, or coworkers, do you often vent? If so, that may be a sign that you are harbouring a lot more unrecognised rage and aggravation than you realise.
See, for a very long time, psychologists treated rage as if it were a hazardous material that needed to be expelled or it would cause harm. As a result, many therapists, counsellors, and consultants promoted and encouraged the idea of “venting” your anger.
Unfortunately, it appears that the entire cathartic theory of anger is a total fabrication. Even worse, merely letting out your anger will only make it worse in the long run.
The best way to handle anger is to accept it, give it meaning, act on it assertively when necessary, or just let it go when you don’t.
This indicates that the preferable technique is to A) get better at noticing your emotions or frustrations, and B) either do something about it or let them go if you tend to vent frequently or if you would describe yourself as a chronic complainer.
We enjoy venting because it makes us appear to be making progress. However, it doesn’t genuinely address the problems that were initially frustrating you. And while venting might feel wonderful in the moment, it ultimately just keeps the fires blazing longer.
Keep in mind that feeling annoyed and furious is quite normal. However, how you handle those emotions might be quite detrimental.
You are still angry even if you aren’t angry with other people. Self-directed rage can also exist and, if unchecked, can have a lot of negative effects.
Due to the fact that they never become furious with other people, many people believe they are not angry. When it comes to other people, they are kind, affable, tolerant, sympathetic, and even fairly patient.
They nearly seldom appear visibly upset, and they hardly ever get angry with others:
- They don’t scream or shout.
- They don’t misbehave or become belligerent
- When things go wrong, they remain composed.
But appearances can be deceptive.
Even to those who are familiar with them well, such as spouses or parents, some of the most angry people I’ve ever known appear to be pure sweethearts.
How is that even possible?
Many people’s anger is self-directed, and it shows up as rumination, an extreme form of negative self-talk.
Rumination is the mental practise of engaging in relentlessly critical and fruitless self-talk over past faults or errors.
- You recall a past mistake when a buddy casually mentions it at dinner, and you then spend the rest of the evening thinking about that mistake and all the bad things it did to your life.
- When your boss at work gives you specific criticism about a recent assignment, you become so preoccupied with wondering how you could have done better and why you consistently make mistakes that you lose track of time.
The most significant yet understated revelation is this:
Rumination is typically fuelled by self-anger, even though it frequently results in sadness and guilt.
Most people don’t appreciate the significance of rage in their lives because they tend to associate with the negative effects of their habit of ruminating.
- It doesn’t necessarily mean that anger isn’t present just because it isn’t expressed or directed at someone else.
- And just because you aren’t acting out destructively toward other people doesn’t imply that you aren’t acting out destructively toward yourself.
You have a high chance of breaking the cycle of rumination, self-criticism, or perfectionism if you learn to be more self-aware of your rage.
Many people use coolly academic criticism of others to communicate their anger in order to disguise it.
It may be a symptom of unresolved anger if you have a tendency to be overly critical or judgemental of other people.
Here’s how it functions:
- People frequently feel horrible about themselves in significant ways. For instance, they may be reluctant to make significant changes in their lives even though they know it is the proper course of action.
- Of sure, this suffering or inadequacy stings. However, what gets worse with time is the guilt and shame people have for not taking action even though they know they should.
- This shame and remorse eventually turn into hatred and rage toward oneself. They still feel stuck, though.
- Therefore, as a type of coping technique for their own low self-esteem, they turn to criticising or judging others in order to momentarily alleviate all of this negativity.
- Because when you criticise someone else, you indirectly assert that you are superior than them, which momentarily boosts your self-confidence.
- Of course, over time, being judgmental adds to your list of self-blameworthy behaviours.
The problem is that many people who have a propensity of passing judgement on others appear calm and distant in an academic or too analytical way, the exact opposite of angry.
The issue is this though:
This cold, detached criticism of others is frequently only a cover for our own fears and resentment at ourselves.
If you are aware of and willing to investigate your doubts and self-anger, you can learn to manage them. And unless you deal with the primary driving force behind your habit of criticising others, it might not stop.
Anger has no negative connotations. It serves a variety of vital purposes and is a typical human emotion. However, the moment you deny your anger, that’s when problems can arise.
You can use these 5 clues to determine whether or not anger has any influence on your life.
- persistent anxiety
- Using Passive-Aggressive Language