Use Your Anger to Make You Stronger

Written by on August 18, 2020 in Emotional Mastery, Self-Determination

Uncertainty and a desperate need to reclaim a sense of control over our lives have become universal themes in 2020.

The tragic loss of loved ones, health, and financial worries, and the daily dose of bad news about what new crisis tomorrow may bring, has left many people struggling to deal with stress and anger.

Whether you are someone who denies your emotions or allows them to puke all over your life, anger can adversely affect your health and relationships, as well as your ability to succeed in life.

But it can also energize and drive you to be more productive, to solve problems, clarify your boundaries, and achieve dreams and goals others say are impossible.

The truth is that anger is neither good nor bad, it is simply an emotion. What makes the difference, is how you choose to respond to it.

And to be clear, it is a choice.

It may not feel like it some days, but you can manage your emotional responses to whatever challenges life happens to send your way – even a global pandemic.

If you try to get rid of fear and anger without knowing their meaning, they will grow stronger and return.

~Deepak Chopra

The Misunderstood Nature of Anger

On the surface, anger seems pretty straight forward.

You’ve been wronged or something hasn’t gone the way you expected or believed it should, and now you are mad (irritated, annoyed, pissed off, etc.).

But anger is a secondary emotion, a reaction to a deeper issue, which is the real source of your discontent.

Common underlying emotions that spark anger include fear, loss, guilt, rejection, and sadness. It is because these emotions make us feel vulnerable, that we tend to use defensiveness as a shield.  

Anger is simply what’s showing up on the surface.

If you only address the symptom of anger and ignore the underlying truth your emotions are trying to communicate to you, the problem will continue to build and return again and again.

To turn your anger into a positive source of energy to build strength and resilience, you need to learn to harness and channel it.

Harness and Channel Your Anger

The aim of a healthy emotional life is not to avoid negative emotions, but to learn how to understand and redirect, or channel your feelings and emotions in positive and constructive ways.

This requires the willingness to accept your emotions and learning to pay attention to what your thoughts and body are trying to communicate to you.

Recognizing the Signs

While the source of anger will vary depending upon our experiences and life circumstances, there are several physical signs that you can use to recognize when you are becoming upset.

The first signs of anger are almost always physical: tension, clenching your jaws, a tightening of muscles, shortness of breath, and an upset stomach.

You might feel cold or begin to sweat, especially the palms of your hands.

You may even experience dizziness.

Any or all of these things may happen without you noticing anything more than the fact that someone has pushed your MAD button.

Break the Reaction Cycle

Once you recognize the signs that anger is building the next step is to break the cycle of knee-jerk reactions.

Most people have a pattern for the way they react to anger.

Some resort to destructive behaviors as yelling, using hurtful and angry words, while others choose to not express their rage and bottle it up to the point where it becomes toxic to their system.

To effectively break the cycle of instant reactivity a new response habit needs to be formed so you can constructively blow off some steam and get back to center.

One of the most effective ways for channeling anger is through blood-pumping physical activity such as aerobic exercise, running, or any active sport.

As a golfer, one of my favorite activities to blow off a little steam is to hit a bucket of balls with every ounce of energy I can muster. Works wonders!

Also helpful are mindful practices such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, creative pursuits, or just taking a walk outside.

If you’re face-to-face with the source of your emotional turmoil, calmly excuse yourself and walk away for a time so you can regain your composure.

Identify Your Triggers

To identify the source of anger you need to first understand what triggered that emotion.  

It could be a particular word, an action, a place, or a person; anything that your brain associates with a certain memory or life experience.

Listed below are a few common anger triggers:

  • Disrespecting your personal space.
  • Feeling undervalued or dismissed.
  • Any form of personal threat.
  • Being lied to or trust betrayed.
  • A sense of loss or injustice.
  • A reminder of past abuse or trauma.

Some triggers are pretty obvious.

For instance, if you were bullied as a child, your anger may be easily triggered if you believe someone is disrespecting you as an adult.

For others, you’ll have to dig a little deeper, and a common source here is a lack of healthy personal boundaries.

Maybe someone in your life regularly takes advantage of you, shows up late, or can’t be trusted to keep a confidence.

Any single one of these behaviors can cause real havoc with your emotions and is a clear sign you have some boundary work to do.

Identifying things that trigger your emotions gives you a starting point so you can begin to deal with the real issues. 

What is Your Anger Trying to Tell You?

Anger is a call to action telling you that some part of your life needs attention.

Maybe your anger toward the jerk you work for is really about you feeling trapped in a job you hate.

The logical answer to that is to get a new job, but maybe you’ve convinced yourself there aren’t any good jobs out there, you’re waiting for the economy to improve, or you have too many responsibilities to risk change.

Or, maybe you’re just too lazy to try.

On the other hand, anger can also spur you to take action.

Maybe you feel hurt and angry because those you count on most lack belief in your ability to achieve an important dream or goal.

Instead of allowing anger to make you bitter, convert that energy into passion and purpose aimed at proving yourself.

I’ve been there, more than once.

With concerted effort, I turned my pain and anger into passion and a source of energy that has kept me moving forward in life when my resolve was tested, through rejection, disappointment, betrayal, and even physical difficulties.

If I can do it, you surely can!

Closing Thoughts

Anger is just an emotion. What matters is what you do with it. Like anything in life, you can use it to build or to destroy.

You can choose to change the way you feel and the way you react. You can use anger to become more aware of your wants and needs.

The energy from anger can be converted into passion and purpose to create meaningful change and achieve dreams and goals.

The choice is yours to make.

Related reading:
Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach, and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies, and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living Start Here.

Ready to Build a More Resilient Life?

Receive our weekly newsletter, bonus guide and member only content!

I agree to have my personal information transfered to AWeber ( more information )

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. (Cross my heart!) You can unsubscribe at any time.

Tags: , , ,

Comments are closed.