Don't Test Me: Understanding Men And Anger

Updated October 26, 2021

While everyone may experience the issues mentioned in this article, please note that as part of our initiative responding to the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men (2018), these articles will focus on how these topics affect men and boys. We use “men” to refer to people who identify as men.

What Is Anger?

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This may seem like an obvious question. We’ve all been angry and frustrated. Some of us even know precisely what makes us angry. However, to understand the whole picture, we first need to define terms.

Anger is an emotion or feeling described as antagonism towards something or someone you believe has intentionally wronged you. More specifically, anger is a secondary emotion – meaning there are other emotions intermixed with it that are beneficial to recognize in order to better understand why we are angry, such as feelings of deeper hurt or sadness.

Anger isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes anger can be motivating and let you know what you need to change. The problem lies when we begin to lose control of our anger and stability.

What Are Signs Of Anger Issues?

Anger can be beneficial when identifying threats and defending yourself. If left unchecked, however, anger can cause destructive problems in your life and relationships.

Signs of anger issues can include:

  • Hurting others verbally or physically
  • Finding yourself in a constant and consistent state of anger
  • Feeling your anger is out of control, or you don’t have a firm grip on it
  • Consistently regretting something you said or did while angry
  • Small or petty things trigger your anger

Not being able to control and limit your anger can take its toll on your physical health as well. Studies have shown links between anger and cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and road accidents.

Types Of Anger

Anger is not limited to lashing out or breaking things around the house. It can come in different styles and degrees of intensity.

Inward Anger

Inward anger is directed internally and at yourself. We’ve all been there, mad and disappointed at ourselves for not meeting our expectations, though this anger can turn a darker hue if not recognized and worked through. This anger is characterized by negative self-talk, depressing thoughts, and punishing yourself in some way or another.

Outward Anger

Outward anger is what most people associate the emotion with. This type of anger is characterized by lashing out verbally or physically. Outward anger can include breaking things, shouting, cursing, road rage, and more.

Passive Anger

This type of anger can be tricky to identify. You’ve probably experienced this in your own life, home, or work. Passive anger is characterized by passive-aggressive behavior, cutting sarcastic comments, silent treatment, or sulking.

Are Men Angrier Than Women?

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Men can often be depicted as angrier than women. You see it in movies, books, and even stories from friends. Although this depiction is common, it isn’t necessarily the case.

Both men and women can experience anger in the same degree and intensity. The difference is, men are more likely to express their anger outwardly. Men can be more susceptible to expressing their anger aggressively (for example, by punching holes in walls), leading to this stereotype.

Do Traditional Roles Cause Men To Be Angry?

Men can often find it hard to identify with their emotions and feelings unless they’re angry. Of course, men experience a full range of emotions, but anger is commonly the most socially acceptable emotion. Anger is often depicted in society as powerful and masculine in men, while showing vulnerability is often considered weak.

It’s also important to emphasize, as noted previously, that anger can often stem from another emotion. One of these emotions could be fear. Take, for example, your partner not letting you know they’re going to be home late. When they arrive, you lash out verbally, hurting their feelings and your relationship. This anger might have stemmed from a fear of your partner being unfaithful or in danger.

Types Of Outbursts And Negative Impacts

Expressing your anger outwardly and aggressively can lead to negative impacts on your life, circumstances, and relationships. What are some of the adverse effects?

Verbal Abuse And Shouting

One of the most common expressions of harmful outward anger is verbal abuse and shouting. This verbal outburst can be directed at your kids, partner, friends, family, or coworkers. Verbal abuse and shouting can be expressed in a variety of different ways.

  • Name-calling. This takes the shape of abusive and derogatory language. These insults are often used to chip away at the individual’s self-esteem.
  • Threats. These statements are often used to strike fear and control the person on the receiving end.
  • Criticism. These comments are often harsh and persistent, causing the person to lose self-esteem.
  • Blaming. Blaming makes the individual feel they are the problem or cause of the behavior.
  • Judging. Judging can take the form of looking down on the individual or holding them to unrealistic expectations.

If you or someone you know is experiencing verbal abuse, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

The Impact Of Verbal Abuse And Shouting

Verbal abuse and shouting can create harmful effects for both parties. These can include:

  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic stress
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Substance use
  • PTSD

The Impact Of Verbal Abuse And Shouting

Verbal abuse and shouting can create harmful effects for both parties. These can include:

  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic stress
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Substance use
  • PTSD

Breaking Objects

When we’re angry, it can often be tempting to break something. You may have found yourself incredibly frustrated at someone and unsure how to contain your anger. Instead of lashing out verbally or physically at the individual, you decide to break something or punch a wall. While this can seem like a solution or form of relief in the short term, studies have shown that those who broke something or hit a wall became angrier after the fact.

It’s rarely helpful to break something when angry. This can harm or scar an individual emotionally. Not to mention, it can lead to property damage and potential wounds.

Healthy Ways To Release Anger

Healthy anger is characterized by a short-lived emotion focused on solving a problem or coming to a resolution. Healthy anger can be expressed with little to no aggression or vindictiveness. This anger isn’t about hurting someone, seeking vengeance, or gaining power.

1. Deep Breathing (Seriously)

When feeling intense levels of anger, it’s easy to overlook and neglect your breathing. Not focusing on your breathing will keep you in fight-or-flight mode, leading you to stay angry for more extended periods.

Take deep and controlled breaths through your stomach. Exhale through your mouth, releasing the anger. Try finding a calm and relaxing spot to do this. Allow your neck and shoulders to relax and release tension. If you find yourself consistently angry, consider doing this 3-5 times a day for about 5 minutes at a time. This breathing exercise will calm you down and allow you to see the situation with more clarity.

2. Move Your Body

When faced with difficult and frustrating situations, we can forget our bodies entirely. Next time you find yourself in one of these situations, try moving your body. Taking a walk, jumping jacks or stretching are excellent ways to bring you back to the present moment. Engaging in physical exercise reduces anger.

3. Change The Environment

Sometimes to sort through our anger, we need to leave the situation entirely. Maybe your room is cluttered, causing you great deals of frustration and stress. Or it could be your work computer acting up.

Whatever it is, try taking a long walk or drive. Removing yourself from the situation or environment allows you to clear your head. When you return to the environment or situation causing you stress, you will have a brighter perspective enabling you to take charge healthily.

4. Use Humor

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Using humor to handle negative emotions and anger can effectively change your mood and perspective.

That’s not to say you should brush your problems under the rug. Try finding something funny at the moment or thinking about what it looks like from an outsider’s perspective. Don’t take yourself too seriously, and permit yourself to laugh at minor annoyances and inconveniences.

5. Recite A Mantra

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For some, reciting a mantra can be seen as silly, but it’s a compelling way to calm down at the moment.

When in a heated situation, focus on your breath and recite something you find empowering or calming. You can repeat this out loud or in your head. Phrases like “take it easy” or “everything will work out in the end” are great places to start.

The benefit of a mantra is that you get to create it. Try coming up with something empowering or encouraging. Get creative and be your cheerleader here. You could create a phrase that brings you back to your purpose or goal, allowing you to focus on the tensest situations.

6. Sports

As mentioned earlier, moving your body is an effective way to relieve anger and stress. If you find yourself in a more frequent state of anger, consider doing sports.

Combat sports such as boxing, MMA, and jujitsu are all ways to release anger and tension. Not only will you feel an improvement, but you’ll be learning a practical skill as well. Sports like tennis, baseball, and soccer are also options. Hitting and striking a ball allows you to express your emotion outwardly and physically without causing harm to yourself or your loved ones.

7. Consult With A Professional

One of the most powerful ways to meet your rage and better grasp difficulties is to seek out a mentor or leader. Luckily, you can seek out that guidance from BetterHelp. Here’s an example of one man who worked with one of BetterHelp’s professionals:

“As a young man who has been trying to do things “strong man” way, I was reluctant even to consider help. Then my father began to wither in front of me, and I knew I was in trouble. There are some things that no one should attempt to do on their own. Ray, I hope you understand that you reaching out to me is something I can’t thank you enough for.”


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Struggling With Anger Attacks? How To Gain Control
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