How To Harness Anger for Healing

Cultivating a Healthy Relationship with Anger

Woman using anger journal prompts

Do you control your anger, or does it control you? Without making an intention to explore your relationship with anger, it’s easy to assume that anger is just an emotion that is automatically triggered by external factors. However, everyone has a different relationship with anger and when you use reflection and introspection to evaluate your own, you are at the beginning of a journey that leads you to have a healthy relationship with anger. 

What Is Anger?

Anger is a secondary emotion. This means that when we feel anger, there’s always an underlying emotion that we are suppressing by allowing our anger to override it so that we don’t have to feel the primary emotion. 

Emotions disguised as anger:

  • Sadness

  • Frustration

  • Helplessness

  • Exhaustion

  • Anxiety

  • Overstimulation

  • Insecurity

  • Projections

  • Resentment 

  • Pain 

  • Grief 

This is not a comprehensive list—you might find that your anger is caused by other emotions or circumstances, but how can you identify them? Anger is such an all-consuming emotion that is typically brought on by a situation that doesn’t allow for you to stop, find center and explore what is at the root.

woman journaling to release anger

How To Create a Healthy Relationship with Anger

At the beginning of your journey in cultivating insight from anger, there is no choice but to use retroactive reflection. This means, when you notice that something has made you angry, if you can’t evaluate it in the moment, let the feeling pass and then sit with it afterwards. 

Journal Prompts to Understand Your Anger

  1. What caused me to be angry?

  2. What was my reaction? Was it appropriate, or blown out of proportion? 

  3. Is there a pre-existing factor that influenced my reaction? Was it a situation, a growth pattern, trauma, a relationship or related to my behavior patterns?

  4. Could I have anticipated my angry reaction?

  5. How could I have reacted differently?

  6. What did I learn from this?

  7. How can I use this knowledge in the future? 

After you make yourself aware of your patterns and triggers, you can start to be proactive and manage your reactions by removing yourself from situations/relationships that make you angry or choosing an alternative reaction that’s appropriate for the time and place. 

Why It’s Okay To Be Angry

While the previous options are great alternatives to anger, this doesn’t mean it’s not okay to feel anger! But, when we are just beginning to understand our relationship with anger, it’s important to recognize that our anger isn’t always warranted. After you’ve created boundaries that correlate to deciding when anger is justified, then we can begin to use our anger as a tool—not a weapon, but a tool.

How can anger be a tool? To mindfully use anger is not to use it against other people during an argument or to release pent-up emotions. Anger can be a tool for internal peace and an indicator to help you recognize your emotional needs. When you have the opportunity to do so without impacting others, sit with your anger. Allow yourself to feel it and let it run through you so that you can healthily release the frustration that will reveal the underlying emotion. Then, you can sort through what caused your anger and resolve the root. 

Mindful Ways to Feel Anger

  1. Recognize it: Anger is a red flag, so use it as such! If you start to feel angry, try to remove yourself from the situation to prevent a rash reaction. Use it as a signal to prevent yourself from lashing out at others when you’re releasing your anger. 

  2. Feel it: If you need to let your anger consume you, do so and feel it fully with the intention of letting it dissipate. Get curious about what it feels like, if it feels cathartic when you’re done or if you feel more exhausted than free. Use this as insight into what best manages your anger or if you need deeper reflection to help your anger (or its cause) dissipate. 

  3. Let it out: Cry, hit a punching bag, scream into your pillow, stomp it out.

  4. Harness it: Let it fuel your energy for making a change by taking control of the circumstances that made you angry or to be productive and fuel your goals.


woman processing anger outside

Anger Management in Action

Once you have developed a healthy understanding of your anger and learned when to feel it versus when to redirect it into a productive emotion, you can use it to improve your interactions and relationships with others.

When you understand that anger can be indirectly tied to a past event or learned behavior rather than a reaction to a situation, it is easier to give others grace and prevent yourself from negatively reacting to their reactions. You might even be able to begin a productive conversation that helps both of you grow as you understand how to work through anger together—this works wonders in working, platonic, and romantic relationships. 

A couple weeks ago, I was having a conversation with my husband, Curt, and we had differing opinions and I found myself getting frustrated with our inability to come to an agreement. As the situation continued, I reached a point of anger and ended up stomping out of the house in the  middle of the argument…I even think I might have slammed the door a little! I just knew that I wasn’t going to say anything helpful or contribute anything more to the situation that would be productive, so I left.

On my walk, I was able to physically drain the anger from my body as my mind continued to work the situation over. At first, there was a whole lot of justification going on. Yet with the movement, fresh air and distraction for my body, gradually my adrenaline dissipated. Though my thoughts had now shifted to analyzing my anger and the situation productively, I still wasn't at a point to see beyond how I was right and he was wrong. 

When I got back to the house, my temper had cooled, but I still felt unsettled and unhappy. It wasn't until a bit later when I picked up my journal and started letting my feelings flow there that I began to get a better understanding of the underlying issues and take a deeper look at the situation and feelings surrounding it from his viewpoint. This ultimately led to feelings of compassion for both of us and the ability to begin to figure out how to resolve the impasse. 

Even though leaving an argument might not seem like a good reaction to anger at first, recognizing when you need to leave a situation because nothing productive can come from it at that time is, sometimes, the best thing you can do. It prevents you from hurting someone else and allows you to sort through your feelings and thoughts on your own time, to come back for a productive conversation later. 

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