What's your anger type?
Fed Up. Frustrated. Irate. Whatever you call it, we’ve all felt it. But being aware of how you handle your anger – and why – can help you get it under control and express it in a healthy way.
You avoid anger
When you’re mad, but say nothing about it; when you’re feeling all kinds of agitated but don’t dare show it – that’s resistant or passive anger, the kind you bottle up inside you, explains psychologist Peter Andrew Sacco Phd. Our way of dealing with anger is often learned at an early age, so if this is your anger style, you may have been raised by people who avoided conflict at all costs; maybe they instilled the idea that anger is wrong or expressing it is bad. Or perhaps you saw so much arguing growing up that you made a conscious choice to never get mad or disagree with anyone to evade fighting. But anger is a very normal human emotion, says Sacco, author of What’s Your Anger Type? Suppress it, and it can hurt both your mental and physical health. “When anger is turned inward, it can lead to depression,” he explains. Plus, research suggests that internalising anger may lead to heart problems and weaken your immune system. Instead of squashing it, own what you’re feeling, suggests Sacco. Recognise and acknowledge your anger so you can move forward.
You hold a grudge
If you can’t let go of your anger and refuse to forgive, you may have what Sacco calls petrified anger: “It’s kind of like keeping a vendetta against someone who you believe wronged you,” he explains, “and that anger is all based on being right.” The target of your hostility has more than likely moved on and couldn’t care less about what happened, but for you – letting go is like admitting you’re wrong. “Your ego and being correct becomes more important than keeping a friend,” says Sacco. To help overcome petrified anger, ask yourself what staying angry is accomplishing for you. Shift the focus of the forgiveness and do it for yourself, suggests Sacco: It’s not about me being right or wrong; forgiving you means I’m able to let go and stop feeling angry.