Therapy Edmonton - The 3 Types of Anger

Updated: Jan 1



Anger is defined as an intense emotion that sometimes involves a strong and uncontrollable response. The more overpowering the feeling, the greater the influence may be. For instance, many people often notice physical effects such as a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure, more adrenaline, and feeling your ears or face heat up.


While anger is absolutely natural and has great value in many situations, it can also have a negative impact depending on how you choose to deal with it. Others handle it in a subdued and practical manner, which many argue is harmful possibly because some emotions may end up being suppressed. Still others throw an emotional fit and turn violent, which many agree is also not the right way to go.


You see, anger often triggers a “fight or flight” response, resulting to both physical and mental consequences due to the loss of objectiveness and the lack of ability to monitor our reactions. But that doesn’t always have to be the case. With a little practice and more understanding of the ways you most commonly choose to react when angry, you can better express and manage the emotion in the long run. This not only benefits the people around you, but it greatly helps your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing.

The way you usually express your anger can directly connect to your core beliefs regarding emotions. By finding out what it is, you can learn simple ways to manage it, meet your needs without violating others’, and turn it into a healthy expression (if it isn’t already).


Type 1: Passive Anger

Passive anger is an avoidant type expression and is seen in the form of silence, giving someone the cold shoulder, acting indifferent, suppressing feelings with alcohol or food, avoiding conflict, apologizing too often, and so on.


This type of expression is usually done by those who avoid confrontation at all cost and would rather pretend that everything is fine by denying what they are truly feeling. It also usually stems from the need to please others and be in control.


Emotions that usually come with it: Passive anger makes one feel more anxious and helpless about having to deal with the situation. They start to feel angry with themselves for not being able to fix it and communicate their needs. This can make others view them as inferior and indecisive.


How to manage it: Slowly develop ways to voice your frustrations in a healthy and assertive manner. Confrontation does not always have to be scary, in fact, it can be very productive and help you get your needs met.


Type 2: Aggressive Anger

Aggressive anger is a violent type of expression often seen in the form of threatening, insulting, shoving, shouting, destroying things, talking over others, attacking others, manipulative acts like blackmail or anonymous messages, and the like.


This type of expression can also stem from the need to feel in control and be correct all the time, with the motivation to cause others harm. This can sometimes lead to legal action and the inability to form lasting, respectful relationships.


Emotions that usually come with it: Aggressive anger makes one feel the need to exert superiority, but later on may be crippled with guilt and self-doubt. They humiliate and hurt others in an effort to protect themselves. This can make others view them as inappropriate, selfish, vengeful, and tactless.


How to manage it: Contrary to popular belief, anger does not automatically equal violence or aggressiveness. There are other factors involved if aggression is your go-to response, and you should reflect on what are your true motivations or triggers for reacting with violence.


The best way to manage it is by removing yourself from the situation once the tension starts, mentally try to calm yourself down, and regain control of your emotions by doing a quick breathing exercise. By observing your breathing, you can slow down your heart rate and physically relax.


Sometimes, this won’t work for those that absolutely need to let out frustration through physical means. If you fall under this group, take a walk or go for a quick run instead.



Type 3: Assertive Anger

Assertive anger is a controlled, confident, and constructive type of expression often seen in the form of communicating and listening, being patient with the other person, calmly trying to discipline the person at fault, giving temporary punishment as a means to teach a lesson, and/or voicing their disappointment and desire to find a solution.


This is considered the healthiest type of expression and is great for nurturing healthy relationships because instead of avoiding confrontation or resorting to violence, they instead create positive change by having their needs met without hurting others.


It involves thinking before speaking, feeling confident in what you are expressing, and remaining flexible to the other’s side of the story. Those who are able to stay patient, communicate emotions without raising their voices, and genuinely try to be empathetic often use this expression. It shows maturity, that you care, and nurture your relationship.


Emotions that usually come with it: Assertive anger makes one feel goal-oriented, valued, considerate, and (if everything goes right) accomplished. They are appropriately honest and understand the importance of everyone’s rights being regarded. This can make others view them as respectful, mature, valuable, and confident.


Need help managing your anger expression?

Everyone has their own ways of expressing emotion. Oftentimes, these are molded through our upbringing and how we were taught to handle (or not handle) them. If you find that your type of anger falls under either of the first two expressions, seeking a counselor to help guide you into a healthier form of communicating your feelings can be beneficial for you.


By having a healthier way of handling stressful situations, you will be able to enjoy more peace of mind, be regarded as a respectable individual, and even create stronger, long lasting relationships along the way.

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