Handling anger constructively

5 Tips to Deal With Anger Constructively

5 Tips to Deal With Anger Constructively | Psych Central
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Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Jane Collingwood on May 17, 2016

We all get angry. But for some people this basic and powerful human emotion is difficult to manage. We may have trouble expressing anger, or even recognizing it in ourselves. On the other hand, it can lead to destructive and violent behavior, frightening people around us and causing friction in relationships.

Problems with anger have been linked to a range of physical, mental health and social challenges. There is a great deal of advice out there for anyone who wants to learn how to deal with anger in a constructive and healthy way.

  • Try not to avoid confrontation. Many people, particularly women, aren’t comfortable feeling anger or experiencing it in others. But it’s a legitimate emotion that can highlight important issues. Burying your feelings of anger, or shying away from it in others, will either cause bigger explosions of internalized anger in the future, or may lead to depression.
  • Avoid assigning blame. No one likes to be in the wrong, but immediately defending your position by attacking the other person will just put them on the defensive. If they have let you down, for example, focus on how it made you feel rather than resorting to name-calling. Try to keep on the same topic rather than bringing up past mistakes they have made. Tackling it this way has a better chance of positive results. Often the other person will apologize, especially if the atmosphere remains fairly calm.
  • Stay cool. Although having a big rant is tempting, there are better ways to get your point across. Your tone of voice is crucial. Let it express the fact that you care for the other person and let it allow for them to express their warm feelings toward you. This will help both parties remain level-headed.You may have a tendency to let the argument escalate and become hysterical. Recognizing this pattern is vital. You’ll often find there’s a moment when you realize what’s going on. The trick, although not easy, is to listen to this warning and make a different choice. For this technique to work, you will have to give it some thought in advance. Consider all the benefits: more chance of being listened to and understood, less chance of feeling ashamed or guilty afterward, less pressure on the relationship or friendship. This will provide the motivation for stopping yourself when things are getting out of control. Having managed it once, you’ll have faith that you can do it again.
  • Be professional. If it’s not a friend, family member or romantic partner, but a work colleague that you’re confronting, take a few deep breaths and step back for a moment, if you can. It’s possible to keep your dignity and stand up for yourself at the same time. Don’t let it get overly emotional. End the confrontation as soon as possible so you can give yourself space to regain your composure and set out the facts. Schedule a meeting knowing exactly what you want to discuss, perhaps involving a suitable third party. Suggest how things could be done differently in the future.
  • Be ready to make a compromise. Aim to think flexibly during confrontations. Have a resolution in mind, but stay open to compromises based on the other person’s opinions. Neither side is likely to get what they want 100 percent. Try to keep listening even if they appear to be completely unreasonable. They may not be skilled in confrontation themselves.Anger and hurt feelings can skew our interpretation of events and conversations–it may be far less personal than you first imagine. Stay open to the potential solutions. But don’t agree to binding conditions or rules when you know you’re not thinking straight. You can usually reassess any heat of the moment agreements afterward and decide if you’re truly prepared to stick to them.

Remember — we’re all human and sometimes we let anger get the better of us. But just because you allow yourself to be angry doesn’t mean you also have to let anger rule your interactions with others, or spiral out of control. Try these techniques and practice them in your own life to deal with anger more constructively and put yourself in control of your anger.

Last medically reviewed on May 17, 2016


Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Jane Collingwood on May 17, 2016

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5 Constructive Ways to Express Anger

5 Constructive Ways to Express Anger

Posted on February 28, 2019

Anger is often closely tied to addiction. It is a normal response to the hurt caused by trauma, abuse, or neglect. However, many people don’t deal with their anger in a healthy way. They either lose control and become aggressive or even violent, or they repress their anger, which can lead to depression and anxiety. People who habitually repress anger, often because they learn early on that their anger will be punished, may become passive aggressive. They may resort to sarcasm, stonewalling, or avoidance when someone makes them angry instead of addressing the problem. Whether you are prone to violent outbursts or passive aggression, the unskillful expression of anger can alienate the people who care about you. Having supportive friends and family is important for everyone and it’s especially important for people recovering from addiction. If anger is a problem for you, here are some more constructive ways to express it.


The first and most important thing to do notice when you’re getting angry and don’t make any decisions while in the grip of anger. When you’re angry, your judgment, foresight, and self-control are basically non-existent, so anything you do impulsively out of anger is likely to make things worse. Take some deep breaths and calm down, then decide what you want to do.

Identify your emotions

We are often aware of being angry, but we are less aware of what emotions lurk behind that anger. Typically, anger is a reaction to hurt, sadness, rejection, or other painful emotions. It’s fine to tell someone that you feel anger, but it’s much more helpful if you understand why.

Consider other perspectives

Most of the time, people don’t intentionally try to hurt you, especially people who care about you. We more often hurt the people we care about unintentionally or to retaliate for being hurt ourselves. The initial reaction of anger is almost always self-centered, reflecting a belief such as, “She shouldn’t have done that to me; she’s a horrible person.” If you can cool off and take a broader perspective, you will often find that whatever made you angry was unintentional or that you set the ball rolling through your own behavior. We may not like it, but we need to act with compassion and honestly review our own mistakes. Taking a broader perspective will help you not take things so personally.


When you’ve cooled down, identified your emotions, and considered things from the other person’s perspective (possibly with the help of a  peer), then you talk to the other person about why you’re angry. If you tend to avoid conflict, you might be tempted just to let it go–and maybe sometimes you should–but communicating will improve your relationships and help keep resentments from festering. Focus on your own feelings and avoid accusations. This is often difficult, but it gets easier with practice.

Write it down

It might help to write down whatever you’re angry about. However, this shouldn’t be a gripe list because that will only reinforce your resentments. Describe the situation as accurately as possible and try to clearly articulate your own emotions and behavior.

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How to help yourself cope with anger?

Our anger, both overt and covert, is meant to convey something important to those around us. But he pushes them away. We sincerely want to be heard and understood, but we get the opposite result. In whatever form we express aggression, it interferes with building effective communication.


Anger is the force that impels a person to act. To fight a tiger or a mammoth, you need to get really angry. Initially, anger was given to man so that he could get angry, go hunting and feed himself, and maybe conquer the world. Anger is the force that motivates a person to act.

Now we do not observe mammoths on the streets, but we communicate with other people every day. And we keep getting angry. So where does it come from?

The first reason is exhaustion. When the body lacks resources, a person rises in search of them and at the same time tries to save himself by driving away all potential competitors. Therefore, lack of sleep, pain, even poor nutrition can easily become the cause of anger. In adults, an imbalance of fat in the body increases irritability, and in children, a large amount of sugar increases excitability.

The second reason is the frustration of the need to be accepted. When a person feels that there is no place for his interests, his opinion in the family or at work, that he lacks support and love, he accumulates aggression. Most often, such situations arise with people who do not know how to express it; we will talk about them below.

The third reason is not understanding why the other person behaves the way he does. Why is your partner rude whenever you try to find out where he is now? Why does a five-year-old child not sit quietly in the theater, but throw his arms and legs at his neighbor? An adult believes that his partner is just nervous, and the child does not respect other people's boundaries. In fact, it may turn out that the partner had a controlling mother, and he still perceives questions as a violation of his freedom, and an emotionally immature child is so fond of the performance that he cannot control himself.

The fourth reason is the need for protection. When a child screams in the street and the mother cannot do anything, she becomes angry. First of all, the fact that she is losing control, and everyone sees it. Protection may be needed from pain, sadness, disappointment - in general, from all difficult emotions that threaten psychological security.

The fifth cause of anger is a threat to self-esteem. Sometimes a feeling of guilt arises because of the behavior of a loved one. “I am a bad mother” if the child screams and falls, if he is silent and plays the tablet, if he eats a lot, if he eats little... This situation makes you try to be good all the time and do everything right. It is especially difficult for perfectionists, that is, those who had the “be good” mindset in childhood in response to parental demands. The result is repressed aggression, more guilt and more anger.


There are situations from which an adult explodes. The reaction is not always adequate to the situation - the one who caused the outburst of anger thinks to himself: "What did I say? . ." In fact, he, without knowing it, pressed the "red button". Each person has their own content of these buttons, but globally they are divided into two types.

1. Last straw

Suppose a mother gives all her time to her child. She plays with full dedication, eats dinner in five minutes, does not close the door to the toilet, hardly sleeps... Or, conversely, she spends 10 hours a day at work, barely has time to play with the child in the evening, and also cooks soup, cleans the floor, reads a book on how to communicate with a child ... And finally, the husband says something about an unwashed plate. Can you imagine the reaction? Explosion! The problem, of course, is not in the plate. When a person holds back emotions for too long, anything can be the last straw.

What to do with it: not to sacrifice everything for the sake of one area of ​​life, but to do exactly as much as possible; track irritation and fatigue at the very beginning; talk about it to relatives and carry out prevention (“make children a happy mother”) until the glass overflows.

2. Sore callus

Suppose a person had a father who kept track of what time the child came home, controlled whether the light in the bathroom was turned off, whether the closet was tidied up, whether the dishes were washed. Or the mother constantly read the diary, interfered in relationships with peers, aggressively invaded life. Or already in adulthood, the previous partner terrorized with calls. Therefore, past experience can be included in new relationships.

"Listen, maybe you should leave the meeting earlier than the rest because you'll be walking down a dark street?" - the partner asks. "What are you telling me? But why should I always do everything as you said?" - A sudden explosion occurs.

The red button can be an emotionally charged experience from any period of life when a person has experienced and suppressed anger.

What to do about it : track your emotions at the level of irritation, talk with your partner about your feelings and what causes irritation; regard such questions as a desire to take care of you; let your loved ones take care of you.


Both an adult and a child can find themselves in a situation where sparks are already flying, a scream or even a fight begins. Sometimes it is not clear how a calm situation turned into this one.

What's going on? Anger does not appear immediately, but goes through several stages before reaching a peak. This can be represented as a ladder . It all starts in the emotional comfort zone, where it is calm and nothing disturbs. This is a different situation for every person.

You should consider when this state occurs for you: when you are lying on the sofa with a book, walking in the park, playing with a child, being at work.

At the next stage, irritation occurs . Someone said something wrong, did something wrong, everything does not go according to plan - and the person starts to boil. In this state, you can still think and understand what caused the irritation.

Here it is important to notice the first notes of irritation until they escalate into uncontrollable aggression.

An emotional outburst occurs at the last step. There is no control in it: a person is no longer aware of what is happening to him, cannot analyze his behavior, does not want to stop and "turns on" himself.

Do you remember the slogan: “It is better to prevent a fire than to put it out”? When you are already at the last step, only the automatic mechanism for getting out of the current situation will work. For example, run out of the room shouting: "That's it, I can't take it anymore" and take a breath. But this does not solve the problem globally. Therefore, you should develop a mechanism for how to deal with irritation in the previous stage, and then you simply will not reach the peak of uncontrollable anger.


Have you ever met people who have difficulty expressing anger?

The problem is that this emotion still arises, but it is expressed inadequately: it either blows up a person inconsistently with the situation, or hides and makes itself felt in the form of passive aggression.

Unfortunately, this is a very common story: in our culture, the open expression of strong emotions is taboo, we are taught from childhood "not to be angry." People who do not know how to be angry, as a rule, are captured by their childhood conflicts. They cannot talk about their needs and adequately defend their position, they are internally irritated with themselves and others that they do not succeed.

Sometimes they don't even realize that they feel anger and can't do anything about it. The problem is that this emotion still arises, but it is expressed inadequately: it either blows up a person inconsistently with the situation, or hides and makes itself felt in the form of passive aggression. Let's say a person gets a job. At first he shows himself well, but over time he begins to sabotage everything. And his boss is a fool, and the tasks are not according to his standards, and his colleagues do everything wrong. As a result, a person is fired or leaves on his own, and the cycle begins anew. At the same time, he can become a domestic tyrant: find fault with the fact that the dishes are not washed, slippers are not right, the child is naughty. Emotional and physical rejection between spouses (unwillingness to talk, listen, make love) also speaks of passive aggression. In children, it can manifest itself through poor grades or refusal to eat, that is, neglect of what is important to parents. What's happening? A person cannot express his anger directly, so he begins to do things that will anger others and lead to a break in relations.

If you see a person who constantly blames others , believes that everyone around is fools, this is a person with suppressed anger. In childhood, he could not be angry, especially at his parents, and he unconsciously "acts out" in adulthood.

It is worth remembering that anger is an emotion, it will arise in any case. And it depends only on us how it will be expressed in behavior and how it will affect our relations with others.


It is imperative to express anger, and it is preferable to do it constructively. Such a skill improves life, makes a person a more integral personality and allows you to build harmonious relationships with others. So how can you help yourself deal with anger?

1. Learn to recognize irritation in yourself before it develops into anger

First, before looking for the deep psychosomatic causes of irritation and anger, we recommend checking hormones, assessing the state of your body and counting how many hours a day you sleep. Remember that the first cause of anger is the exhaustion of the body. Allow yourself to take a break from the daily routine, arrange with family members to help you with this.

Second, analyze past experience. What makes you angry and angry? If you have already found your pain points, try to notice them in different situations.

2. Allow yourself to feel

Despite children's attitudes, there are no good and bad emotions. Feeling and expressing is normal. Moreover, anger, resentment, sadness and anger are due to the characteristics of the human body. If you completely deny negative emotions and try to pretend that you have a solid positive, problems ensue. As soon as you admit to yourself what you are really experiencing and allow yourself to be with it, the feeling of guilt will go away. This means that anger will not accumulate, risking erupting at the most unfortunate moment.

It is important to convey to children the right to feel. They understand how parents allow themselves and others to express emotions, even if they have never been spoken to about it. Access to anger must be open: if an adult learns this first, then a child can follow him.

3. Take responsibility

Of course, your relationship with anger was formed in childhood, in your family of origin. Then you still didn’t know how to deal with difficult emotions. But now you are an adult and you can take matters into your own hands. Admit to yourself: you are not angry and angry because someone else is bad and does everything wrong. You experience this emotion because you yourself wanted it.

It is important and necessary to investigate the causes, but this is not a reason to say to relatives: "Tolerate my unconstructive anger until I deal with this" . As an adult, you yourself build relationships with others and with yourself. By accepting this responsibility, you get the opportunity to talk about yourself, about your feelings. Not "you are not a good person, you do not pay attention to me and the child", but "I feel lonely if I do not spend enough time with you." The second option sounds different, doesn't it?

Do not accumulate anger in yourself. You are responsible for expressing it while maintaining the relationship.

4. Speak in words

When people first enter into relationships, they rub against each other, including at home. At this point, it is important to find out and talk about your pain points that you already know about. As you get to know each other, there will be more and more discoveries, and it is important not to forget to discuss them constructively.

Without dialogue, irritation will accumulate like a snowball, and eventually result in a scandal. So we recommend taking measures in advance and agreeing with each other, but not blaming, but first of all talking about yourself.

By the way, a parent can talk about his anger to his children. True, it is important not to do this too often and take into account age. If the child is overloaded with his feelings, he may consider himself responsible for the mood and condition of the parent.

5. Arrange emotional release

Run, squat, close yourself in a room and forcefully paint a sheet of paper, hit a pillow, shout in the forest... Any activity connected with the body helps to express aggression. In the long term, rest more often and change activities.

6. Give yourself first aid when you are angry

When a person is in a difficult condition, it is important for him to connect his body, emotions and thoughts. This helps to pull yourself together and start behaving constructively.
Ask yourself: "What do I feel in my body?" Answer it: trembling at the fingertips, heartbeat, etc. Concentrate on this.
Next question: "What are my emotions?" I am angry, offended, annoyed, my self-esteem is hurt ... Track the emotion, name it.
Last question: "What do I think?" For example, I think that the situation is terrible, that I constantly get here, this is the 15th time that I explode this week.

After answering all the questions, you will connect the body, emotions and thoughts. Despite the fact that nothing seems to have changed, you, as a person, will come into balance, from which it is easier to perform other actions. For example, talk.

7. Help a loved one who can't handle his anger

One child once asked: "Why is dad allowed to yell at us, but I'm not allowed?" If you understand that reproaches and ignoring only aggravate the situation, it's time to help your loved ones.

For a partner who came home from work and started yelling at a child, you can, for example, say:
- I see that you are tired and therefore you lose your temper. You find it hard to bear imperfection, that the dishes are not clean enough, or that the child is not well-behaved.

This should be said without irony, but sincerely, trying to understand how hard it really is for a person. For a child observing the situation, this option will also serve as a good example. And your partner will probably not be able to verbalize his anger right away, but he will feel better.

8. Admit your mistakes

What to do if you break loose, get angry with a child, and then feel guilty? Honestly ask for forgiveness:

- Forgive me. Sometimes I can't control my emotions, I don't want to do this, it's unpleasant for me, and you are not worthy of such treatment. Nobody deserves to be yelled at, I ask your forgiveness.

This is a very valuable experience for a child, unless, of course, repeating apologies five times a day. It is good because, firstly, the child sees: the parent is not God, he can make mistakes, which means that the child does not have to be perfect. Second, there is an understanding: a person can correct a mistake, apologize and improve relations. Thirdly, the child understands that the relationship with him is significant for the parent, his feelings are important, and he is ready for dialogue.

By the way, this scheme also works with a partner.

9. Go to a psychologist, psychotherapist

As a rule, you play emotionally difficult situations from childhood in a circle: find partners who look like parents, change one authoritarian boss for another, etc. You do this to deal with an old problem in an adult way, but use the old ways - and again it doesn't work. Psychotherapy helps to get to the bottom of frustrated emotions and develop new mechanisms that will help get out of the vicious circle.

So let's summarize:

There are no good and bad emotions. Each of them has a specific function, including anger. Healthy aggression helps protect yourself and defend your interests, while unhealthy destroys relationships.

Our way of dealing with anger begins in childhood, when we do not yet know how to deal with difficult emotions. Many adults then go around in circles, repeating scenarios of communication with parents in the family and at work, and try to replay past experiences. The advantage of being an adult is that we can consciously learn to express anger in a constructive way and teach it to our children.

As much as we would like to be "positive" all the time, anger sometimes arises and needs to be expressed. Unexpressed anger accumulates and turns into passive aggression.

Each of us has our own "red buttons" that cause outbursts of anger. If you explore them and discuss with loved ones, you can avoid emotional outbursts.

Because of "infantile amnesia," adults do not remember how angry they were when they were small, and do not realize the prohibition on anger, if any. For some, these feelings are still too complex. Psychotherapy helps to understand them.

Department of psychological support and career guidance.

15 Ways to Deal with Anger


Know Yourself A Human Being Among Humans

Sometimes we think that being angry is bad. This is wrong. Anger is a natural reaction when we feel threatened. In this state, the heart begins to beat faster, the face turns pale or flushed, breathing quickens. From an evolutionary point of view, such reactions prepare the body to fight off a predator or to immediately escape.

But this coin also has a downside: too much energy is wasted on anger. The tension it causes can destroy the body. Excessive aggression, both expressed and suppressed, increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Plus, it's hard to think clearly when your mind is clouded by rage and your adrenaline is running high. Here are some tips to help you manage your anger without hurting yourself.

1. Admit that you are angry

The first step is awareness. Acknowledge your feelings. Some of us find it easier to separate ourselves from anger, emotionally distance ourselves, and not identify with it. You are not the embodiment of anger.

2. Breathe slowly and deeply from the diaphragm

Anger provokes a state of vegetative excitement, deep breathing helps to neutralize it. Exhalations should be longer than inhalations.

3. Ask yourself what threatens you

What is at risk: your body, personal or professional relationships, financial status or self-esteem? Are you at risk right now? If yes, act now. Take care of yourself.

4. Don't jump to conclusions

Perhaps the colleague who didn't greet you was deep in thought or feeling unwell. Try not to jump to conclusions like "he doesn't like me" or "nobody likes me". It is better to ask a colleague how he is doing now or later.

5. Redefine expectations

Often we live with unrealistic expectations and don't even realize it. But how can everything turn out just the way we want?

We dream of a harmonious life, but reality is full of obstacles. It is time to finally admit that we will have to face difficulties every now and then, and then when we meet with them, anger will not flare up with such force.

Drop thoughts like "he shouldn't have done this" and categorical statements like "always" or "never". Usually such judgments are subjective and erroneous.

Try not to dramatize the situation, don't think that someone wants to hurt you

Let's say you hate being stuck in traffic. This is understandable - who likes to sit in a car for hours, moving at a speed of eight kilometers per hour? But what do you usually say to yourself in such cases? What shouldn't be? That other drivers are idiots? It only fuels anger.

Look at the situation from the other side: "Well, this is an integral part of living in a big city" or "But I can listen to an audiobook." Most likely, your anger will subside.

6. Learn to apply cognitive restructuring

Don't exclaim, "This is awful, I can't stand it!" Try saying, "Yes, it's annoying, but I can fix this problem." These two approaches give completely different results.

Try not to dramatize the situation, do not think that someone wishes you harm. Understand the difference between a desire and a demand. When talking to others or to yourself, use the phrases “I would like” or “I would prefer” instead of “I insist” and “you must.”

7. Ask yourself what your anger is based on

Anger makes us feel "strong" and "tough", but it's not easy to show vulnerability. But by analyzing your pain, you can better understand yourself. Anger often masks other emotions, such as sadness or fear.

8. Do not use anger as a motivation

It is believed that anger should be released, but this is a mistake. In this way, you can influence the behavior of others, but such changes will not last long. Who likes to be bullied?

9. Practice self-compassion

Admit to yourself that you are experiencing unpleasant feelings. This experience is somehow familiar to all people on the planet. Being aware of this fact will help you deal with your anger without hurting yourself or others. Your emotions should not control your actions.

10. Get moving

Take up running, Nordic walking or yoga. This will help lower the levels of hormones that cause stress and anger, and increase serotonin and dopamine levels, which will improve your mood.

11. Talk to a close friend

Someone who knows you well can look at the situation differently and help you do the same.

12. Be aware of your feelings and needs

Use "I-statements" when expressing feelings. Don't criticize or blame others. Try to take feedback from others without becoming defensive or argumentative.

13. Focus on the solution

Once you have realized that you are angry and understand why you feel threatened, focus on finding solutions to the problem. So you direct your energy in a peaceful direction.

14. Use anger as a clue

My father and I used to have heated discussions. When my mother asked: “Why are you swearing again?”, Father answered: “We don’t swear, we are just passionate!” We expressed our emotions without anger and resentment.

What hurts you can tell you exactly how you could benefit the world. Are you upset by the situation with homeless animals? Help a dog shelter. Outraged by the situation of the poor? Become a volunteer at a social assistance center.

15. Practice mindfulness

Don't judge yourself for being angry - that will only make you more irritable and exacerbate the problem.

Learn more