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Processing Anger: How To Release and Express Uncomfortable Emotions

anger management

Anger is perhaps one of the most challenging emotions to work with. It can come on suddenly, sometimes with little apparent reason, overwhelm us, and leave a trail of destruction in its wake. When out of control it can be damaging to our relationships, both intimate and professional. It can be scary, and isolating. And.. it can be telling us something really important.

In today’s blog we’ll discuss understanding, managing, and expressing anger in healthy ways. We’ll learn skills that, when cultivated, can significantly improve the quality of our lives and relationships. Let’s dive in!


Understanding Anger

Anger is an emotional state that can vary from mild irritation to intense fury and rage. Accompanied by physiological and biological changes such as increased heart rate, shortened breath, rising blood pressure and a rush of adrenaline, anger can be triggered by both external and internal events. Anger (and especially the expression of anger) tends to be stigmatized in our society, which can lead to self-destructive coping mechanisms, shame and guilt, and the suppression of angry feelings. Suppressing anger tends to lead to passive-aggressive behavior and the eruption of these suppressed feelings, possibly in misdirected ways.

Looking beyond the stigma, anger serves as a natural, adaptive response to perceived threats, enabling us to defend ourselves when necessary. However, the challenge arises when this emotion escalates uncontrollably, leading to destructive outcomes.


The Nature of Expressing Anger

It’s important to recognize that when we feel angry, we feel angry for a reason. At the core of our anger is an event that is perceived as unjust, unfair, harmful, or otherwise dangerous to our sense of self. Sometimes this source may be the recent event we are experiencing, other times the anger is displaced from a past experience where we were unable to express our anger, such as a childhood trauma.

The instinctive way to express anger is to respond aggressively. In nature, becoming louder, bigger, and more threatening is an effective way of warding off threats. This approach, while natural, is often impractical and socially unacceptable. 

One way we can learn to properly express anger is by learning how to be assertive. An assertive individual will stand up for themselves, state their needs, create boundaries where necessary, and accomplish all this without needing to shout or make a scene. 

The art of managing anger lies in expressing it in an assertive—not aggressive—manner, respecting both oneself and others. Suppressing anger, on the other hand, may lead to it turning inward or manifesting in passive-aggressive behaviors, potentially causing more harm than good.


Anger as a Coping Mechanism

For some, anger serves as a coping mechanism to mask deeper feelings of pain, hurt, or vulnerability. Recognizing this can be a pivotal step in addressing not just the anger itself but the underlying issues. Developing a comprehensive anger control plan involves acknowledging and processing these underlying emotions.


dealing with anger


Anger Management Techniques

The cornerstone of anger management is learning to control both the emotional and physiological responses to anger. This involves a variety of strategies:

  • Relaxation Techniques: Simple methods like deep breathing, relaxing imagery, and non-strenuous exercises can help mitigate angry feelings by calming the mind and body. (check out these 3 tricks for calming your nervous system)
  • Cognitive Restructuring: Changing the way we think about and perceive the situations that trigger our anger can be profoundly effective. This includes challenging and replacing exaggerated, dramatic thoughts with more rational, balanced ones.
  • Problem Solving: Not all anger is misplaced; sometimes it’s a reasonable response to frustrating situations. Developing a constructive approach to problem-solving, rather than fixating on finding a perfect solution, can alleviate anger and stress.
  • Better Communication: Improving communication skills can prevent misunderstandings that often lead to anger. Listening carefully, taking time to form responses, and expressing feelings calmly can help manage tense situations.
  • Using Humor: A light-hearted approach can diffuse anger. Imagining the literal interpretation of angry thoughts or expressions can provide a new perspective and reduce the intensity of our anger.
  • Changing Your Environment: Sometimes, our surroundings contribute to our anger. Making changes to reduce stressors (like a job you hate) or giving ourselves a break can help manage anger effectively.


finding peace


Finding Anger Management In Grand Rapids

Anger, when out of control, can be harmful to oneself and others. Recognizing when it’s time to seek professional help is crucial. The Truism Center has many therapists that specialize in Anger Management in Grand Rapids, Grandville, Troy, Commerce Township, and available online for online anger management counseling. Working with a therapist can help you to develop the skills necessary to overcome anger issues and improve the quality of your life, health, and relationships. Reach out now to schedule a consultation for anger management therapy in West Michigan.


Learning To Listen, Learning To Control

Anger is a natural, human emotion that, when managed effectively, does not have to dictate our actions or quality of life. By employing strategies for relaxation, cognitive restructuring, and improving communication, among others, we can learn to navigate the stormy seas of anger with greater ease and resilience. Remember, the goal isn’t to suppress anger but to understand and express it in ways that are healthy and constructive. In doing so, we open the door to a more peaceful and fulfilling life.




Robb Kornoelje is the owner of The Truism Center, a relationship enthusiast, and the creator of the “30-Day Relationship Challenge.” This 30-day, fully online email course offers gentle guidance to identify behaviors causing trouble, find ease with emotions, and enhance self-awareness. With a focus on stress-free communication, the challenge encourages a stronger connection with others, nurturing compassion, and fostering forgiveness. Join Robb on this journey to improve the fabric of your relationships—one day at a time.