Anger can be explosive, lashing out at anyone we care about—innocent or not. Or it can stay buried, festering into self-hatred or self-harm. Or maybe we reject the protective side of anger, letting people walk over us. Dealing with anger, no matter how it shows in your life, can seem nearly impossible.
But there are healthy and beautiful ways to handle this emotion. It’s simply about finding your anger’s unique voice and expression.
I thought, for years, that I literally could not feel anger. Always gentle and soft, far too quick to forgive. I refused to stand up for myself because it felt selfish and cruel.
This is common for survivors, yet it’s equally common to explode with rage. To be suddenly overcome with fury. Stress or specific triggers can set this off, though sometimes they appear out of nowhere.
Although this isn’t how my anger showed, I do have firsthand experience with this. My alter, Bael, is a much more fiery individual. Together—we reach both sides of the spectrum. So passive where anger was entirely buried, and incredibly quick to snap and lash out at others.
Dealing with anger is doable, no matter how it manifests for you. It’s all about understanding it and accepting it as an emotional protector. This will transform anger from something dangerous or frightening into the most empowering emotion you have.
Understanding “Passive” Anger
This type of anger is quite strange. It’s essentially invisible. And dealing with anger when you can’t see it is not easy.
If this is your type of anger, you’ll notice people regularly breaking boundaries—without you saying a peep. You might feel frustration and annoyance, but you’re afraid to show any more than that. It’s like, even when people do the worst things to us, we either don’t care or we love them enough to offer forgiveness anyways.
Anger, to you (and to me in the past), feels violent and dangerous. It’s too frightening to hold within our own hearts, so we reject and conceal it any way we can. Even if that means hiding it from ourselves.
We usually develop this way of processing anger for one of these reasons:
Anger was treated as something inappropriate in childhood. We were seen as wrong or cruel for expressing even the smallest forms of frustration. Anytime we stood up for ourselves, we were called demanding or cruel. So, we learned to hide anger to avoid this criticism. Sometimes, we even stop feeling anger entirely.
The second reason is when our abuser was an angry person. We learned any expressed anger lead to pain and violence—so, when faced with our own anger, we fear turning into our abuser or becoming violent and losing control. To avoid that ultimate fear, we repress our anger.
There are likely more scenarios leading to this way of dealing with anger, but these seem to be the most common. The essential thing to understand about this reaction is that anger is something you’re afraid of. Afraid it will hurt you or others around you if you let it show itself even a little bit.
Understanding Explosive Anger
Explosive anger can burst out and show its face in many ways. Lashing out to other people, acting reckless, self-harming, or even becoming violent. It’s the type of anger that feels like fire within us, burning with a need to escape and be seen by the world.
Bael has an intimate relationship with all of this. (He helped a lot in writing this section of the blog!)
Explosive anger often forms when we needed to bury anger, because we were shamed or hurt for showing it. It’s also possible that you tried to hide it for fear of becoming like your own abuser, if you showed any anger.
All emotions need to be felt and heard in order to be processed and released—so burying anger built up internal pressure. It eventually shoots to the surface—like lava escaping the earth’s crust. Like a volcano, our anger can leave destruction in its wake.
The emotion has so much momentum behind it that it basically runs wild.
Healing Every Form of Anger
Dealing with anger, especially when it’s wild and explosive, can seem nearly impossible. It feels like it physically and mentally overwhelms us—and we just have to step aside and let the fire burn.
But, there are ways to manage and heal your relationship with anger.
First, learn how to stop burying it. Once you realize it’s safe to listen to it every moment it comes up, you’ll be going into every situation with control. It won’t end up buried, with a constantly building pressure.
Listening to an emotion when it shows up means acknowledging it exists and looking for what it is trying to communicate. It’s not acting the way the emotion wants you to (at least not without thinking first!).
Second, it’s about working through the buried anger you already have. This is usually present with passive forms of anger too. You likely have felt anger, you’ve just worked so hard to be unaware of it that it hides completely from sight.
This second part is the harder work, as you have to first become comfortable with anger existing. You also have to realize you always have the power to make choices about how you react to your emotions (a skill I talk a lot about in the Prosperity Path program here!).
How to Become Comfortable with Anger
Anger, like all emotions, needs to be felt and accepted to heal. It cannot move through and out of you without being heard first. Ignoring it, repressing it, and even hating it will all keep it buried.
Getting to know your explosive anger will help you remain in control. You’ll be able to stand up for yourself, without letting the emotion take over.
Getting to know your passive anger will empower you to begin standing up for yourself, allowing you to powerfully express your needs and set loving boundaries.
Dealing with anger in any healthy way begins by getting to know the emotion. And one of my absolute favorite techniques is interviewing it. Literally sitting down, in a quiet space, and speaking to the emotion as if it was its own entity.
All emotions, anger in particular, have a lot of important things to share with you. Understanding its message, with an open heart, is the beginning of healing it.
The Best Way of Dealing with Anger: Interview It
Find a quiet space and something to journal with before starting this exercise. Then, place your hands on your heart (making you aware this is a compassionate practice) and call your anger forward, as if interviewing another person.
Ask it a few of these questions and write down what it shares, without judgment. There is no right or wrong here—you’re just gathering information about what your anger needs from you. You’ll be surprised at how clearly our emotions speak as soon as we give them space to be heard.
Anger, why are you present in my life? Why are you speaking up right now?
Anger, what am I afraid that you will do?
How are you trying to be expressed, anger?
Who hurt me and why did that call you forwards, anger?
What is unfair about our life that makes you come forwards, anger?
Why do you hide (either long term or until something triggers an explosion), anger?
What are you trying to protect me from, anger? (This is one of the most important questions, since all emotions are trying to help us in some way.)
Am I doing anything to hide, repress, or hurt you, anger? What can I do differently?
What help do you need from me, anger?
You can come up with lots of other questions, as well. Feel free to talk back and forth, just like if you were conversing with another person. Jot down what you can while speaking, so you can reflect on anger’s message later.
After you do this interview, simply examine everything you discovered with as much love as you can muster. Your anger was born from a desire to protect you. It has the potential to become one of your greatest allies. Simply start building a relationship with it, whenever it comes around.
This Facebook group here is a phenomenal resource when getting help with interviewing any of your emotions, or dealing with anger, too! We also dive deeper into this exercise in the Prosperity Path program here.
Preventing Anger from Taking Control
You can make a choice about everything your anger asks you to do. You don’t need to act in the ways it wants to. Instead, try to think about how it needs to be expressed and create a compromise. Let it be a part of your life, while still retaining your ability to choose how you react to the feeling itself.
This way of dealing with anger will be the most empowering. You’ll discover it feels safe, even exciting or helpful, to feel. You’ll be able to team up with it, listening to and respecting its needs while also remaining in control of your reactions.
If you need more help strengthening yourself in the face of anger, be sure to join the Prosperity Path program here too. We’ll dive deep into lovingly accepting anger (and all other emotions), plus how to gain total empowerment in your life.