What Are Your Anger Triggers?
By Jon Terrell, M.A

Woman holding her face with both hands with an expression of shock on her face

Do you find anger triggers all around you? Do other people make you angry?Do you want to release repressed anger?

Anger is a difficult and complicated emotion. It's big, has a lot of energy that can motivate us for positive or destructive action. 

In personal relating, if we let our anger explode outward, it can damage and even destroy our relationships.

Expressing our anger can briefly feel good but very quickly can turn into remorse, guilt and even shame. Many of us hold it back until we just can't.

I've worked with numerous men who have expressed their anger and hit their partners, and then feel terrible for what they did in the "heat" of anger. They came seeking help because they didn't want to hurt their wives but felt triggered and out of control

They may have tried anger management techniques but they weren't effective.

Because anger is such a big feeling, it takes a lot of energy to hold it back.

Holding back our anger can be exhausting, and if we repress it for long enough we can end up tired all the time and depressed.

And if we think our anger is bad, and many of us do, we avoid and repress it.  When we don't acknowledge our anger, and avoid owning it, it sets us in us a pattern that we see in the world: those who are victims and those who are bullies.

What Is Healthy Anger?

Anger is a natural emotion and essential to our survival. Healthy anger sets boundaries and helps separate "me" and "us" from "you" and "them."  

Anger is the great protector. Used appropriately, anger can protect ourselves and others. Anger helps us stand up for what is true and right.

You can learn to express healthy anger without fear of hurting others. But how do we learn how to release repressed anger?

Our Grief, Loss and Difficult Emotions retreats can help you safely release and transform stuck anger into healthy anger.

Harnessing the  power of anger changes everything.

As we learn to take appropriate action, our healthy anger can change the world for good. Not only is anger the power that helps us set appropriate boundaries with others, but it motivates us to express ourselves with passion and focus.

Some people attend our events because they don't  have a sense of where they are going in their life and career. When they get in touch with the power of healthy anger within them, they know exactly what they want to do, and where they want to go. And, they have the energy to get there.

Now we'll switch our focus to what really makes us angry.

In many cases the real issue that makes us angry is something we are avoiding, just below the surface of our minds.

What are your Anger Triggers? 
Who "pushes your buttons?"

When it’s “not fair.”

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

Example 1: 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 should pay. You get angry!

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. You get angry!

Sometimes things aren't fair! Sometimes our anger is appropriate in that it can motivate us to take positive action.

We can take action to help change our lives and the world around us through, for example:

  • Voting and other political action.
  • We can volunteer to help others who are being unfairly treated.
  • We can donate money to causes we believe in. Anger can be a powerful force for good.

Example 1: We see a neighbor beating his dog and take action to report their behavior.

Example 2: We believe a law violates our or others' rights. We vote to change it and help motivate others to also vote for change.

When your boundaries or expectations are violated.

Example 1: A telemarketer calls you on your home phone at dinner time. (You only want calls from people you know at home.)

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

Appropriate anger sets boundaries to protect you.

When someone fails to acknowledge something that you hold important.

Example: Your partner forgets your anniversary, again!

When you or your loved ones are in danger.

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

What do all these anger triggers have in common?

Angry Man

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 and the hurt that goes with that. Anger helps right-size us.

[NOTE: If we are genuinely violated, as in child sexual abuse or when we are 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 accelerate that work.]

If you find yourself getting angry a lot, by this and that, you may need to work on the real cause and cure for your anger: Your own uncomfortable feelings of being small and victimized.

Underneath the big facade of a bully is hiding a small victim. But many people can't face that, so they repress the feelings of being little and victimized.

These emotions often go back to events in our childhood, when we were overpowered and felt that way. The two-year-old toddler within you may be acting out feeling hurt and victimized.  

Psychotherapy, particularly "Inner Child" work, can help evolve those parts of us still caught in old patterns of behavior.

Our retreats are designed to help people learn how to release repressed anger and other feelings in a safe, loving environment where anger and other feelings are welcome to be expressed and once expressed can quickly evolve.

The Right Use Of Anger
How Our Retreats Help

Anger is the biggest of all the feelings, and helps us feel larger and more empowered.

But many people have learned to use anger to get their own way and force others to behave the way they want them to be.

It can be a dictator, bully, manipulator.

At our retreats, people who have been victimized and bullied learn to own their anger to set appropriate boundaries and protect themselves in a healthy way.

It can feel easier to project anger out there at others than deal with the internal feelings of being a victim, of being unworthy and unlovable. 

At our retreats, participants learn to feel their feelings in a safe environment and work them through. Raw anger that lashes out becomes a focused, passionate power for good.

Anger often feels too big. That's where the healing and holding power of a community can help, and why I don't do this work privately any more.

On our own the task of transforming anger can feel too daunting and difficult. But a group can hold a lot more than we can.

Transforming anger is not something that needs to take years and years. In fact, many people have stepped into a whole new relationship with their anger in just the short time of our events. I've seen it again and again. 

Finding The True Gold in Anger

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.  

We've been hiding these parts from others and ourselves. And to heal these parts, we need to feel the emotions we are caught in, particularly the grief of not being seen, or heard, or honored.

Working through suppressed feelings from our past is the true work of psychotherapy, as I see it, and it is at the core of our retreats

At our Grief and Difficult Emotions Retreats, folks can work through years of emotional pain in a short time, and gain the tools they need to live a new, freer and more passionate life.

Anger is powerful and passionate. We can reclaim that passion for good, for true justice and compassion. That is the true gold within us, waiting to be discovered.

That is the gift of anger. For more on this perspective, go to this page.


For more general information on how to release repressed anger and other difficult emotions go to Healing Emotions.

Here is another perspective on anger, called Conquering Anger.

For more information on our programs, or if you have a question, contact me using the contact form below.

Jon Terrell, M.A.

Jon leads retreats to help people transform stuck emotions, especially grief, anger and anxiety. He leads retreats at Star Dance Ranch in western Massachusetts, and occasionally in Florida and California. Go here to read Jon's bio.


Go from Anger Triggers to Healing Emotions

Go To Grief and Difficult Emotions Retreat Page

Find out about Anger and Depression

Go to Awakenment-Wellness Home Page

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