Intro to Anger

Unchecked anger breeds regrettable outcomes

Anger is part of the human experience and a natural response to frustration, injury, insult, or anything that threatens our physical or psychological health.

Anger is an internal alarm that tells us something is off. Unfortunately, far too often, the anger we feel is triggered by things that we don’t understand, or are far less serious than we make them out to be.

I used to misinterpret peoples’ comments as attacks on my character and quickly get into arguments defending myself. Looking back, most of the time people were only trying to help me improve, but I ended up pushing them away.” – Paul, 30

Feelings of anger can arise in many different contexts. Feeling that we’re treated unfairly, receiving criticism, or simply not getting what we want are just a few potential triggers. Without feelings of anger, we also may not take a stand against unfairness or injustice

The experience of anger can range from mild irritation to seething rage. Even boredom can be a mild version of anger, in the form of dissatisfaction with what is happening or not.

While feeling anger is a natural part of being human, we want to find skillful ways to work with it rather than feeling regretful about an angry outburst, or suppressing our anger altogether.


Anger can often emerge in response to painful feelings like:

  • Fear or powerlessness 
  • Sadness
  • Shame or Embarrassment
  • Rejection or abandonment 
  • Disappointment 
  • Frustration or resentment
  • Uncertainty

In these cases, anger tends to “mask” or cover up these other, more uncomfortable feelings.

Being aware of these feelings can give us insight into where our anger is really coming from. Feeling fear and sadness is uncomfortable; it makes us feel vulnerable and not in control. Because of this, guys tend to avoid these feelings any way they can.

After a bad date, I used to get so angry, I’d slam my fist into a wall. I thought I was only angry about the date not going well, but I was really angry about all the rejections I’d ever gotten, and feeling hopeless about meeting the right person.” – Steve, 24

One way our minds defend against these uncomfortable and vulnerable feelings is by subconsciously shifting into “anger mode”. In contrast to fear and sadness, anger can provide a surge of energy and make us feel in charge, rather than feeling exposed or helpless. Essentially, anger can create a false sense of control and power in the face of vulnerability and uncertainty.

Sometimes there’s a fear of abandonment underneath our anger. In these instances, it’s a combination of fear and anticipatory loss that can fuel the anger. 

Uncertainty can also trigger anger, because uncertainty touches upon the “unknown”, which tends to be scary for a lot of people. 

Even boredom can generate anger or irritation because there can be a subtle sense of loss or fear associated with the experience of not engaging in something stimulating or productive.

While having some “sense of control” is needed for good emotional well-being, excessive need for control leads to frustration and pain, as it’s impossible to always be in control, especially of other people’s behaviour.

In order to manage our anger we need to gain insights into what our anger is really about. Only then can we become more aware of what gets us angry in the first place, and notice when our anger is becoming a problem.


It’s not the feeling of anger itself that can cause us problems. Rather, it’s how we manage our anger that can make things difficult for us and the people around us (our friends, family, co-workers, etc.).

There are two main ways guys tend to deal with their anger:

Lashing Out

I knew something needed to change when I had a verbal outburst with a significant individual in my life. I had been struggling with intense inner anger and frustration for many years that I simply did not know where it was coming from. ” – Ryan’s Recovery Story

When we let anger get the better of us, things can get out of control. Many of us tend to look outwards and blame others for causing our anger – and then take it out on them.

This can lead us to:

  • Make snide or sarcastic remarks
  • ‘Snap’ at people
  • Get into frequent arguments
  • React aggressively to minor issues
  • Yell and swear
  • Slam a door or objects harder than we should
  • Break or throw things
  • Become violent towards others

Bottling it Up

I didn’t realize how angry I was until I started paying attention to how tense my shoulders and jaw always felt.” – James, 43

For others, anger is something we bottle up and hide, or ignore altogether.

No matter how much we try to ignore or suppress our anger, it always finds a way to show itself. 

This can lead us to:

  • Carry a lot of tension in our muscles (e.g., jaw, shoulders)
  • Feel detached and disengaged
  • Feel completely numb, like we have no emotions at all 
  • Misuse alcohol and/or drugs to avoid painful feelings
  • Live in a constant state of being ticked-off, not fully able to enjoy life 
  • Take our anger out on ourselves, through self-sabotage or self-harm

When we bottle things up, we avoid dealing with the deeper issues behind our anger. This may work in the short-term but often has unintended consequences as it leaves issues unaddressed. When we deny our anger completely, we also run the risk of suddenly blowing up and hurting ourselves or those around us.


Anger can have pretty wide-ranging impacts on our lives that a lot of guys may not fully appreciate, including:

Reduced physical health 
  • Left unchecked, anger makes us prone to develop issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, and a weakened immune system.
Worse mental health 
  • Anger is exhausting – it can cloud our thinking, make it hard to concentrate, and prevent us from enjoying life. It can also lead to issues with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. 
Damaged relationships with friends and family 
  • Losing control of our anger can cause serious and lasting damage to our relationships, making it hard for romantic partners, family, and friends to feel comfortable around us – or even trust us at all. 
  • It can be especially harmful for children to be the target of our anger, or see us managing our anger poorly.
Missed career opportunities
  • Lashing out and threatening people at work may get us what we want in the moment, but in the long run it can alienate us from our co-workers, prevent us from getting promotions, and lose us respect. 
  • Even if our anger isn’t so explicit, it can still come out as biting sarcasm, irritability, or aloofness.

Now that we’ve reflected on some of the ways that anger may be negatively impacting our lives, let’s explore some of the common myths about anger.

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