What Are Your Anger Triggers?

By Jon Terrell, M.A

Anger is a difficult emotion. If we let it explode outward it can cause damage. And if we try to hold it back it can negatively effect on our health, cloud our thinking and crowd out the rest of our life.

Learning to express anger appropriately is a skill that can be learned, but in many cases the real issue that makes us angry is something we are avoiding just below the surface.

What are your anger triggers?  Who pushes your buttons and why?

When it’s “not fair.”

If you feel you’re not getting what others are, that you are being discriminated against, you can feel angry.

Example: You go out to dinner with a friend and they order more drinks and more expensive items and then want to split the bill with you. You get angry because he/she wants you to pay a larger share of the bill than you think you deserve.

Example 2: When you feel you pay your taxes fairly and you find out that some rich person is able to find tax loopholes and not pay any taxes.

When your boundaries or expectations are violated.

Example: A telemarketer calls you on your home phone at dinner time. (You expect only calls from people who know you at home.)

Example 2: You are awakened from sleep by noisy neighbors who have hired a rock bank for their all night party.

When someone fails to acknowledge something that you hold important

Example: Your partner forgets your anniversary

When you or your loved ones are endangered

Example: A driver cuts you off and you have to swerve out of the way.

What do all these triggers have in common?

We experience and express anger when we are feeling small and victimized. We blow up at various anger triggers to avoid the feeling of smallness.

[NOTE: If we were truly violated, as in a child sexually abused or physically assaulted, there can be a deep tangle of feelings, including fear, rage, grief and shame. Recovering our life energy from the past and getting our life back can best be done with the help of a trained therapist. The deep emotional healing work of our Grief, Loss and Difficult Emotions Retreat can speed up that work.]

If you find yourself angry a lot, by this and that, you may need to work on the real cause of your anger and the real cure for your anger: Your own uncomfortable feelings of being small and victimized. It is far easier to project anger out there than deal with the internal feelings of being a victim, of being unworthy and unlovable.

Here is where there is the true gold of growth and healing. To free ourselves from being forever triggered by other people's behaviors we need to heal the parts of ourselves that feel unworthy of love, that feel small. Often we've been hiding these parts from others and from ourselves. And to heal these parts we need to feel the emotions they are caught in, particularly the grief of not being seen or heard or honored.

This is the true work of psychotherapy as I see it, and it is also at the core of our retreats.


For more information of dealing with difficult emotions go to Healing Emotions.

Jon Terrell, MA, offers psychotherapy for individuals and couples at his office in Northampton, Massachusetts and in downtown Manhattan. He also does long distance counseling helping people with their anger triggers and other issues via the phone or Skype. Jon does not take insurance, but has a sliding scale fee. For more information or if you have a question, contact him using this Google app or the contact form below.

Jon Terrell, M.A., L.M.T.
Fitzwilly's Building
25 Main Street, Suite #342
Northampton, Massachusetts 01060


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