Expressing Anger: Why Can't I?

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Louise Hay

Expressing Anger: Why Can't I?

Do you find it difficult to express anger? Here's how to get over this block.

Last update: June 29, 2020

Do you find it hard to be angry? If your answer is "I never get mad", you are not very credible. A psychologist often hears his patients say that they cannot express anger; there are even those who deceive themselves and are convinced that they are not angry, even if they are.

Several studies have shown that anger contains cultural components, but it is still a normal feeling. It's part of our learning process - getting angry helps us grow emotionally.

In this sense, when we lose our temper, the use we make of anger is important. Knowing how to express disappointment is necessary for good emotional health and for psychological well-being.

Let's look at some of the reasons why we are unable to express this emotion. We will do this starting from the phrases that we hear most often in psychotherapy. Understanding what each of these statements hides is a good starting point for getting over the block.

What are the reasons why we are unable to express anger?

"I can't express my anger because I don't know how to do it"

Behind a statement of this kind there is often a lack of assertiveness. This may indicate that:

  • We are afraid to say what we think, especially if we believe we are going "against the tide".
  • You can't keep control.
  • You fear a block when it comes time to communicate your ideas.

On assertiveness we can find many books, but their contents are rarely applied. To express anger, you must first clarify yourself: "What do I mean, what do I feel and how do I want to let those in front of me know?".

Preparation is the key to success. Imagine your anger as an object outside your body. Externalize, objectify fear or anxiety. Ask yourself: What is my anger for?

In this case, not being able to express anger is a matter of insecurity, doubt that they will be able to take matters into their own hands. The risk, however, is missing the opportunity to clarify one's feelings.

"I can't express my anger because deep down I know I have no reason to get angry"

The first question we have to ask ourselves in this case is: "What is anger telling me?". It is very important to get to the root. If we are getting angry out of selfishness or "for no reason", simply because things don't go our way, it is normal for it to be difficult to express.

We know that, after all, we have no reason to express our anger, so let's avoid doing it. Not expressing anger in these circumstances is a protective mechanism from the risk of appearing ridiculous or having to repent for what one says or does.

The ideal, however, would be to question the real reason why this emotion is felt. It is easy to understand that the strategy must be the following: I get angry, I don't say anything, I analyze, and if I have clear or right reasons to get angry I say what I think.

If we try to analyze the reasons for the malaise, and these really exist, this will give us the strength and security to externalize what we have inside. 

"When I express my anger, I feel guilty"

If you really have reason to get angry but feel guilty afterward, something is wrong. That is to say, you have to accept that getting altered does not make you a better or a worse person. The point is to find the most productive and appropriate way to express it.

In this case you need to do some work on self-esteem: the dominant thought (which prevents you from expressing anger) is “my anger is not that important, it is better to keep quiet.

Everything you feel, however, is important enough that you have to accept it and pass it on to others. Indeed, you have the responsibility to communicate it to those in front of you, without having to feel guilty.

Also the sense of guilt is an easy feeling to manage, because it leaves us anchored in the "dimension of not doing", in immobility. The best interpretation we can give to such a reaction is: "my anger has to be conveyed and if I do it right, I have every right to".

"Even if I express my anger, it is useless, everything remains the same"

At this point, we are faced with a situation of learned helplessness. You may have learned that whatever you do, you will not be able to change the situation and will continue to suffer.

If you identify with this thought, you must get to work. It may be necessary to give a swipe and change something in the environment around you, in the couple, in the family or at work.

Psychologist Martin Seligman explains how harmful learned helplessness is: it wears us out psychologically and undermines, day by day, our ability to change and grow people.

First of all, therefore, you must validate the reasons for anger, understand if they are justified or not, and assess whether you are expressing anger correctly and politely. After completing all these tasks, the time has come to face the learned helplessness, to do a work on yourself: you will not regret it.

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