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on Healthy Feelings!
Talk, Trust & Feel

Dr. Lynne Namka
Licensed Psychologist


A Primer on Anger:
Getting a Handle on Your Mads

Lynne Namka, Ed. D. © 1997

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Anger Is One Reaction To An Event That Represents
A Stress, Threat or Loss to You

The stress, threat or loss can be real or we can make it up in our mind.

Anger reactions happen when there is a stress, threat or loss to our...

  • Body
  • Property
  • Self esteem
  • Values
  • Or when we didn't get what we wanted. Entitlement--'I want it. You owe me. Give it to me now or I'll get angry'

Some Dynamics of Anger

  • We become more angry when we are stress and body resources are down.
  • We are rarely ever angry for the reasons we think.
  • We are often angry when we didn't get what we needed as a child.
  • We often become angry when we see a trait in others we can't stand in ourselves.
  • Underneath many current angers are old disappointments, traumas and triggers.
  • Sometimes we get angry because we were hurt as a child.
  • We get angry when a current event brings up an old unresolved situation from the past.
  • We often feel strong emotion when a situation has a similar content, words or energy that we have felt before.

"I Need to Be Right" Way of Thinking
Which Accompanies Much Anger

One of life's biggest setups is living with the belief that your way is the only way. People who are constantly threatened when others question their actions live a limited life. Living life always on the defense is no fun! People who are prone to anger have a set pattern of beliefs, attitudes, expectations and behaviors. It's sad, but true, the more of you have of the following characteristics, the more angry you will have:
_____ An insatiable need to be right
_____ A deep fear of being wrong
_____ A high need to control others
_____ An inability to say, "I don't know" and "I was wrong"
_____ Fear of hearing new information that threatens your beliefs
_____ Fear of letting go 
_____ Preoccupation with winning approval from others
_____ The neurotic need to always be seen as tough, powerful and strong
_____ Pride at always being rational and logical
_____ Uncomfortable with expressing  feelings 
_____ Fear of being vulnerable
_____ Fear and severe discomfort about having bad feelings

Things To Think About Right Now!

  • As you get more in touch with your feelings, you can learn to deal appropriately with things that upset you. You don't have to be afraid of feelings. Feelings are only feelings. They come and go. The best thing to do with uncomfortable feelings is to just watch them and then learn from them.
  • As you release your need to only see things in the way that you have seen them before, you open up new possibilities and adventures in your life.

  • As you let go of your need to control others, you have more energy to spend on things that are really important. Life is more fun when you no longer are in charge of making things right in the world!

  • As you develop your intuitive, creative side, you complement your rational side making you a full functioning human being.

  • As you relinquish self-centeredness and look to the needs of those around you, you develop intimacy and connectedness.

  • As you dismiss the belief of "I have to be need to be safe through strict, rigid thinking", you have more self-understanding.

  • As you let go of your need to be right, you find you have more of a Self. You become more secure and are less upset when things don't go the way you want. Life becomes less threatening. You see things in new and different ways. You become happier.

There Is A Progression Of Anger Build Up

Catch And Interrupt Your Anger In The Early Stages

  • Irritation
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Aggression
Remember it is normal to be human. Anger is a necessary part of the human species. However, it's not fair to hurt others or yourself with your negative emotions.

It makes sense to try to catch your anger at the irritation and frustration stages before it builds up to humongous amounts and leads to a blow up or major stuffing in your body.

Be in touch with your angry emotions. Your body will clue you in to your feelings if you observe your tension patterns. Own your anger. Call it by name.

Look for new and creative ways to speak it assertively and then release. The more up front you can be with others, the happier you will be. Make verbal contracts with those around you to speak about your anger in constructive ways. Make your family a "Speak your feelings kind of family!"

Keep looking for innovative ways that you can use your anger in ways that do not hurt you or others. Become a lifelong student on the dynamics of negativity as it plays itself out in your life. You can change and become a master over your anger.

What Does Your Body Do When You Are Angry?

____  Adrenalin rush
____  Heart races
____  Body temperature goes hot or cold
____  Muscle tension
       ___  shoulders tense
       ___  jaw tightens
       ___  knots in stomach
       ___  arms and legs 
       ___  clenched fists
       ___  all over
____  Agitation/shaking

Anger May Be Only The Top Layer

What Other Emotions Lurk Under Your Anger?

_____  Fear
_____  Hurt
_____  Guilt
_____  Sad
_____  Confusion
_____  Overwhelmed
_____  Startled
_____  Restlessness
_____  Envy
_____  Hate

What Meaning Do Your Give To The Event
That Makes You Angry?


What You Say To Yourself About The Event
Determines Your Anger Response

  • Anger Outers-- You Turn Your Anger On the Other Person and Become an Aggressor
    • I'll show him
    • It's not fair
    • That jerk #%*&
    • I hate him
    • I'll show him

  • Inner Angers--You Become a Victim by Beating Yourself Up or Allowing Others To Beat You Up
    • I'm devalued
    • I'm exposed
    • He doesn't care
    • I'm wrong
    • I'm guilty (bad)


  • Withdrawal/Hide from Threat or Stressor--You Run Away and Don't Deal With It
    • I can't deal with this
    • This is danger
    • I'm being attacked
    • Let me out of here


  • Divert/Scatter the Energy of the Threat or Stressor--You Change the Subject
    • Let's joke
    • I'll divert attention
    • I feel sick


  • Deal With It! Good Mental Health Statements To Keep You Focused When Upset
    • I'm in charge here
    • I'll breathe and deal with this
    • I feel___ when you___
    • We can talk about this
    • I can handle this
    • Let's take time out to cool down and come back
    • I'm safe. It's okay
    • Yes, I'm angry and I'll just watch what I'm thinking

These statements are called resilient words. They empower you by reminding you that you are in charge not your anger.

Change Your Anger Coping Responses To A Higher Level
Move Your Anger Responses to Self Empowering Ones!

There Are Many Different Ways People
Respond to Threat, Stress and Loss:

  • The Most Harmful Tactics are Used to Intimidate Others
    • Physically assault others to intimidate them
    • Scold, lecture and verbally abuse others
    • Nurse your anger by holding grudges
    • Engage in revenge thoughts and behaviors
    • Displace your anger on people who are weaker than the one which whom you are angry
    • Criticize and put the blame on others. Refuse to see your part of the situation
    • Use the silent treatment, cold stares, sighs and eye rolls.
    • Cuss and call names
    • Use sarcastic remarks to show your superiority
    • Manipulate the other person to get what you want
  • Turn Your Anger on Yourself
    • Physically harm yourself
    • Blame yourself and beat yourself up
    • Deny anger and stuff your feelings
    • Shut down your mind and numb out
    • Use alcohol, drugs or food to numb out or get high when you are angry
    • Hit the wall
    • Drive recklessly
    • Run away and never address important issues.
    • Never get closure and keep storing up the anger


  • Empower Yourself: Use Positive Ways to Deal With Anger
    • Use humor to defuse the tension in the situation
    • Put anger on a safe, inanimate object (punching bag, large rubber ball or pillow)
    • Use movement and exercise to release anger
    • Write or draw out your negative feelings
    • Share feelings and talk your anger out. "I feel angry, when you _____"
    • Confront others appropriately and set boundaries with them
    • Problem solve the situation
    • Leave unhealthy situations. Take a take time out to cool down then come back to talk
    • Take constructive action. Change the word mad to mean "make a difference"
    • Breathe! center and calm yourself so you can think clearly
    • Learn about your self and the other person
    • Observe what you are doing. Watch your reactions, thoughts & feelings
    • Change the meaning you gave the angering event

These latter reactions are the most helpful and healthy. They increase your self esteem by allowing you to be in control, not your anger!

Do you do the same old thing over and over with your anger? Here's a challenge. See if you can increase the number of anger responses you have instead of doing the same-o, same-o thing each time.

Move more of your anger responses into ones that empower you. Make a conscious choice to use positive anger responses!

Remember, it's OK to be angry.
It's what you do with it that counts.

Instead of doing the same negative response all the time,
increase the number of your anger responses.

Make more of your anger responses healthy.
Decrease your anger responses that hurt you or others.
Move your anger responses to ones which empower you.


How To Let Go of Your Mad Baggage by Lynne Namka.

Back to Angries Out

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© 1996-2013 Talk, Trust and Feel Therapeutics.
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Lynne Namka