Hey, it’s Graham here, and today you’re going to learn about how to express anger constructively. So anger is an emotion that’s perfectly normal and natural thing for a human being to have, and like any emotion it can be expressed in a way that’s constructive for you and the people around you and it can also be expressed in a way that is destructive for you and the people around you, or it can be suppressed which is another destructive way of handling anger.
So let’s have a talk about how to express anger constructively. And the first obvious way to do this is verbally, to actually say that you’re angry. Now, if you don’t do this, you can end up repressing your anger and that can lead to a whole heap of problems in your life, in your relationships, your health can suffer. It’s just bad shit to start repressing your anger.
So in order to express anger constructively, what you need to do is basically to say, “Look, I’m really angry about whatever has happened.” And so you can say, “Look, I felt really angry when you criticized me,” or, “I’m feeling really angry right now that you were late home,” or, “I’m feeling really angry that you haven’t given me that report that you said that you’d give me.”
Whatever the situation is, it’s important to tie what has triggered your anger to your anger so that the other person can understand what it is that you’re feeling troubled about. And it’s also important that you actually say that you’re feeling angry when you’re feeling angry. Don’t try and dress it up with some kind of other stuff. Be direct and clear about it that you are angry.
You don’t need to be massively enraged in order to say that you’re angry. If you’re mildly irritated, that’s anger. If you’re feeling a bit put out, that’s still anger. If you’re feeling pissed off, that’s anger. So, yeah, start actually expressing the anger that you have in your life by saying, “Look, I’m angry about whatever it is that you’re angry about.”
Now, if you have massive amounts of anger and you’re feeling just overwhelmed with this and you’re already expressing it verbally by saying, “I’m angry,” then, it might be time to look at what’s going on underneath that anger. Anger is a defensive mechanism that activates very quickly in order to help us to protect ourselves in the world. But underneath anger is often another emotion, such as hurt or sadness, that is really driving what’s going on. And often in our culture we have been conditioned as men not to express hurt and sadness. Our culture gives us a little bit more permission to be angry than to be hurt and sad.
So we can end up stuck in the cycle where we’re just getting angry all the time and always expressing anger to other people. And even if we’re trying to do that constructively, we may still not get past it because anger is not really the underlying problem that’s going on.
So if you’re in a situation like this, particularly in close relationships, it’s important to be able to share the true emotion that’s going on for you with other people, with your partner or with women that you meet generally or with other guys, whatever, and for you to be able to say, “Look, I’m feeling really hurt right now that you let me down,” or, “I feel upset that I didn’t get that report on time because I’m really counting on it,” or, “I’m feeling anxious that we might not be able to make this deadline.” This is a much more constructive way of expressing that anger than saying, “Look, I’m really pissed off with you because I don’t have the report yet.”
These softer feelings of vulnerability and hurt or sadness allow other people to empathize more deeply with us and connect with us in a way that is more difficult sometimes just with anger. Of course, in other situations it may be appropriate to just say, “I’m really angry.” If it’s someone you only just met and you don’t have an ongoing relationship with has done something that’s offended you or impacted you in some way, then simply saying “Look, I’m really angry with you” may be more appropriate than saying, “I feel really hurt that you cut in front of me in the traffic or whatever.”
Now, if you’re expressing these underlying emotions and you’re still feeling that there’s massive amounts of anger and you’re feeling really enraged or out of control, then you need to do something physical. So exercise is a fantastic way of burning off anger. Any kind of exercise will do it for you. Exercise that involves punching and hitting things, like boxing, is probably the biggest way that you can get to anger very quickly. But pretty much any exercise that gets your body moving and allows you to pump the adrenaline through your muscles will allow the anger to settle and dissipate so that you can return back to being calm and peaceful and happy again.
So to recap, essentially what you want to do here is, firstly, tell people that you’re angry. Secondly, identify what emotion may be going on underneath that anger and express that. And then thirdly, do something physical that allows you to channel that anger into your body and burn it off through some physical activity.
If you don’t learn to constructively express anger, not only can it affect your health and affect your other emotions, but it can really damage your relationships and it can hurt yourself because if you express anger destructively it’s going to hurt other people who you care about and then you’re going to end up feeling ashamed of that later, and you can end up in a vicious cycle where you’re just continually getting angry and then getting ashamed of being angry and then getting angry again.
So learning to express your anger in a constructive way or burn it off through exercise or express the hurt, resentment or sadness underneath it is a much more constructive way than simply unloading a heap of shit on somebody emotionally, verbally or physically. To learn more about dealing with anger constructively, check out section 2 of The Confident Man Program Guide.