When Anger Shows Up, How Do We Host It?

April 17, 2018

Anger is an emotion most of us have experienced as children, teens and adults. There are however some gendered constraints around the expression of anger. Men/boys are socialized to be comfortable with this emotion as part of the masculine code. Part of this masculine code legitimizes anger and aggression to the exclusion of other emotions like sadness, disappointment, betrayal that are all part of mosaic of healthy and mature emotional expression. Men who reveal a range of emotions are often categorized as part of the GBTQ community.

Women/girls on the other hand have a price tag attached to their femininity if they select anger as an expression. When they express their anger appropriately they too are frequently categorized as unfeminine and part of the LBTQ community.

People in gender fluid spaces find the use of anger in appropriate manner and contexts to be freeing and healing.


We all know what anger is, and we’ve all felt it. It’s important to understand that anger is experienced, expressed, and managed in many different ways. Anger is a very powerful emotion that can stem from feelings of frustration, hurt, irritation, or disappointment. It is a normal human emotion that can range from minor frustration to extreme rage. Anger is usually a healthy emotion, but when it gets out of control anger becomes destructive and can lead to problems at work, in your personal relationships, and truncate the overall quality of your life.

Anger can be expressed in safe and harmful ways. The safe expression of anger is direct and respectful. Using the expression of anger to target someone with violence and destruction is not anger. It is violence.  This pattern of violence coded as anger can occur between parents and children and between partners and friends.

www.paulkivel.com Copyright 2006 by Paul Kivel “Anger is not the Problem”

Internalizing  Anger

When anger is internalized it cascades into other self-destructive and self-harming behaviors like anxiety, depression, cutting and suicidal attempts.  Suppressed anger can be an underlying cause of anxiety and depression. Ellen a 12 year old Chinese girls was relentlessly targeted for her features and her parents limited fluency in English. Her expressions of anger travelled through sadness, isolation, rage and several suicide attempts.

Impact of Anger on Health

Chronic anger has been associated to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart problems, headaches, skin disorders, and digestive problems.


Anger and the Lifecycle

The ways in which anger interacted with your experiences as a child and through adulthood will determine the ways in which you navigate through it.As a child you may have received messages that anger was not a good or safe emotion to show. You may have been punished for showing expressions or anger. Or you may have been guided to show appropriate expressions of anger. Perhaps you saw your parents or family members engage in destructive or healthy expressions of anger. All of these experiences will shape how you choose to engage with and express or suppress the emotion of anger.

Ask yourself: Do I have short fuse in relation to anger? Do I react to all situations personally and quickly use anger as a shield?

Am I slow to respond to situations that are hurtful and harmful?

Capturing Anger as Resistance

At the Institute for Family Services | Liberation-Based Therapy Team

You will be greeted by a team of therapists  who will walk you down memory lane to retrieve and give voice to your experiences with and around anger. Not only will you be offered solutions to differentiate when and how anger ought to be expressed but you will also learn about experiences of other clients who used anger as an appropriate tool when resisting situations of injustice. We will also underscore all of the social and political movements that used anger to demand justice.

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