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Understanding Anger by Olivia Edwards, MFT trainee

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

Photo credit: pexels

In this unpredictable time where we are self-quarantining for public health, I’m sure we are all experiencing a broader and more intense range of emotions. Our emotions can change rapidly throughout the day as we move through a new way of living. While isolating with family, friends, or roommates, or even alone, we may find ourselves feeling angrier than we have ever before. Situations we may find irritating now may have been something we would not have thought twice about a couple of months ago. It is imperative that we try to meet these emotions with compassion. We are all doing the best that we can in this modern time.

It is essential to keep in mind that anger is a subjective emotion. Triggers for anger can vary from person to person. What we do have in common is we all experience anger, just in differing degrees of intensity, duration, and frequency. You may be able to think of someone who always seems agitated and angry, while also calling to mind someone who’s anger only surfaces when they are provoked.

Anger is a basic and natural emotion. One that exists to ensure our survival. Basic emotions are emotions that are universally associated and recognized with certain facial expressions. Other basic emotions are fear, joy, sadness, contempt, and surprise. You would most likely be able to identify these emotions by the expression on someone’s face. Basic emotions, including anger, typically come with specific behavioral responses.

Anger is often misunderstood and confused with aggression. Aggression is defined as behavior while we know anger to be an emotion. One of the many reasons people confuse anger and aggression is they understand anger as a behavior that can only be expressed as hostile or violent. It is difficult for many individuals to react appropriately when in the heat of the moment. Aggression usually comes with the intent to harm someone or something while anger in itself comes with no intentions. Experiencing anger does not mean you have to act out in aggression.

Anger is not a “bad” emotion; it is valuable and crucial to human survival. Anger is often accompanied by our own reaction to anger. Many people experience guilt or a sense of being wrong after feeling angry. Being angry is entirely valid, and sometimes it is a rational response to what is going on around us. While our emotions can feel overwhelming during this trying time, try to show yourself and others some compassion.

Next time you feel yourself getting angry, try taking a quick walk around the block, taking 10 deep breaths before responding, or even retreating into a private space for a beat. There is value in our emotions and exploring our own emotional world. There is bravery in self-awareness. There is power in choosing to live differently, one choice at a time.


Grant, Simon. Anger Management 10 Step Guide to Master Your Emotions and Take Control of Your Life Again. Simon Grant, 2019.

Are you struggling with anger management? If so, please contact Straight Talk Counseling at 714-828-2000 or visit our website at One of our professional counselors would love to speak with you.

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