Why Do I Cry When I Get Mad, It Makes Me Look Weak?
By: Sarah Fader
Updated December 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kristen Hardin
People Express Anger in Different Ways
Anger is a complicated emotion. When you get mad, you may become overwhelmed, explosive, or even tearful, crying angry tears.
Everyone expresses anger differently. In many parts of the world, including the United States, society has a way of gendering emotional states, attributing some emotions different values than others. We tend to think of anger as powerful and associate it with yelling and violence while we tend to think of sadness as week and associate it with crying. It’s no wonder that angry tears can be confusing. This is a bit different than the type of tears you shed after watching a sad movie.
If you find that you get so mad that you start crying angry tears, you're not alone in this, and it doesn't make you weak; it makes you human. We’ll explore this idea more, but let’s come to the understanding up front that whether you’re angry or sad or happy or anything else, emotional tears are okay.
Angry Crying Is Common
Some people get incredibly overwhelmed by their angry feelings. They may lash out at others. It might come out as harsh words or yelling – or, yes, even angry tears. Sometimes it can even be difficult to stop crying when you’re angry.
Other people have a difficult time expressing their anger, and instead of yelling, they become flustered or emotional. At these moments, the feelings are intense, and they let their anger out by crying angry tears. Sometimes the anger is so intense that it makes you feel as if the roof of your mouth hurts.
When you angry cry, it doesn't make you weak. You're expressing genuine emotions. However, if you would like to manage or express your anger differently, there are helpful tools and coping mechanisms that you can use when you feel like crying, such as meditation, therapy, or journaling. We'll discuss these tools later in the article as well as how to find a therapist if you think that you might need one.
Underneath anger is hurt. That's why many people cry when they are angry. They've bypassed the anger and gone straight to the emotion underneath. While this may sound like “weakness” again, it’s actually a healthier and more mature way of dealing with strong emotions.
When you're mad, you are also hurting because of something a person has done to you or a situation that life has thrown at you. There's nothing wrong with crying when you are mad. However you express your anger is okay, as long as you're not hurting yourself or anyone else. Angry tears are one way to let these feelings out in a safe and healthy way. It can be somewhat problematic when you can’t stop crying, but you shouldn’t let your tears make you feel as if you’re weak. For the most part, angry crying is very normal and it doesn’t make you unusual.
"Tears can be healthy whether they’re angry or not and a therapist can help you to ensure that you’re dealing with your emotions in healthy ways."
Some people are more in touch with their emotions than others and may have more emotional tears than others. If you are one of those people, you might cry when you get angry, which doesn't make you less-than or weak. You're expressing anger in the best way you know how – through angry tears. If you’re worried that you are crying too often and you can’t stop crying, then that could be a sign of a mental health issue, but that is a bit different than standard angry crying.
BetterHelp Understands Your Anger
If you're not sure why you cry when you're angry, counseling can help you figure that out. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a therapist. It may be impossible in some areas. And, once you do find a therapist, it can be even harder to pay for one.
BetterHelp is an online platform that helps you find a therapist from among thousands of professional and licensed therapists and counselors. Once you find a therapist that seems right for you, you meet over private chats as well as voice or video calls. If you find a therapist and later determine that they aren’t right for you, it’s easy to find another one.
BetterHelp is more affordable than meeting a therapist online, but it’s not free. That’s because BetterHelp has to pay their therapists and counselors and operating costs. You never have to worry “Will BetterHelp sell my info?” or “Do I have the rights reserved to my BetterHelp details?” You can trust BetterHelp.
The counselors at BetterHelp understand complex emotions, including anger. They won’t judge you over your angry tears. It's possible these angry tears stem from other feelings like fear or anxiety, and therapy can help with that as well.
Each person has a different relationship with anger. If you find it hard to tell people that you're mad without crying, your online therapist is here to help you explore those feelings and get the source of why you're angry-crying.
You might be at a loss as to why you break down when you're mad. Your counselor will support you in talking about your feelings, including anger, and finding out how to express anger healthily.
You deserve to be able to express all your emotions without guilt or shame. In online counseling, you can develop positive coping skills for anger. Many therapists are also experts in complex issues like eating disorders and even bipolar disorder. Knowing that you can get help with bipolar disorder and other complex conditions helps to showcase just how useful online therapy can be.
Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors.
"Kay has been instrumental in helping me shift my perception and break up the cycle of negative thoughts. The short time that she has been working with me has been far more beneficial than much longer periods of time in traditional therapy. I think there is also something freeing about the online chat format. It's easier for me to open up via this media than face to face, and can get to the "real" issues much more quickly. It's been a really great experience."
"So far my time with Jyl has been really great. She's helped me identify signs of my anger & how to manage that. She's very kind & seems to really understand my issues & has great ways to help me with the things I'm wanting & needing addressed. I'm really happy I found this online therapy because with my job I just couldn't go to an office visit type of therapy, this has been a wonderful experience & I'm looking forward to the great support I know I have here to move forward in my life."
Helpful Tools to Manage Your Anger
Any time you feel like crying angry tears, letting yourself experience that emotion and cry those emotional tears is okay. However, there are some instances in which your angry tears might be … inconvenient. If you cry so much that the roof of your mouth hurts, then you might wish to try to control things better. Here, we’ll discuss some approaches that you can take on your own if you’re not sure that it’s necessary for you to find a therapist at this time. Just remember that tests therapy can make a difference and that these coping mechanisms might not always be enough for you to manage your anger properly.
According to a recent study from the journal Consciousness and Cognition, even just one meditation session can reduce an individual's feelings of anger.
Anger is a healthy emotion when you know how to communicate it without hurting others. However, being persistently and frequently enraged can hurt your quality of life. It’s hard to feel angry all the time and you don’t want to be this way. Anger and frustration can harm your life in various ways. You don’t want to feel angry constantly and no one wants to be on the precipice of bursting into tears frequently.
When you're angry, it triggers your sympathetic nervous system. Your breathing becomes shallow, your heart races, and your blood pressure increases. The best course of action to combat this might be to meditate. Meditation helps you to calm your mind and central nervous system, thus making it easier to relax – no angry tears necessary. You just need to take a deep breath and relax. Relax your facial muscles and try to let go of the anger that you have been feeling inside. This can help you to keep tears at bay and it also makes it easier to cope with intense emotion.
Meditation slows down your body's responses and helps you to respond before you react. By practicing 20 minutes of daily meditation, you're teaching yourself to have more control over your mind and body. Meditating at a specific time every day (when you wake up, before you go to bed, on your lunch hour, etc.) can have benefits but so can meditating any time that you feel angry tears coming on.
A structured thought journal that can help you with understanding and managing anger by learning to identify what makes you angry, why, and how to respond to it rather than react. A structured thought journal is an excellent place to work through anger.
You can make a note of situations where you struggle with your anger, and make a concerted effort to change your behavior if you're not getting the results you want in life. You can also bring your journal to a therapy session and read it aloud to your therapist. They will have some insight into how to interpret your feelings. A therapist will help you if you’re worried about spending your life crying too often. They provide substantial social support and journaling is one of the practices that they utilize often.
Here's how it works:
Event: Write down the event that made you angry.
Thought: What was your immediate reaction to the event? Describe your immediate, reactionary thoughts to the event.
Feeling: How do you feel after your immediate reaction to the event? Maybe you feel dismissed and overlooked.
Behavior: What do you do next? Do you yell back at your boss? Do you cry in the bathroom?
It's important to note what you do when you become angry. Understanding why you're taking the actions you take will help you learn and grow.
“I felt so angry I began to cry” is a good place to start but, if your entries stay this brief, you probably aren’t really exploring the moment.
Consequences: What happens as a result of all these thoughts, feelings, and actions?
Let's say you internalize your anger and cry angry tears at lunch. Does that make the situation better? It might make you feel less alone in your anger but might not solve the problem.
Anger: Emotion or Reaction?
This happens to many of us: we cry when we're mad. We get so angry with a friend, family member, or a situation or person at work that in the midst of stating our case, the tears start to roll down the face. You feel flushed and your face may even turn red. You're afraid that you may lose the argument when your eyes start to well up with tears. Does this sound familiar? Many people have been in this situation before and you know that shedding tears is sometimes inconvenient.
Why do we cry when we get mad? How is it that some people can get angry and never shed a tear? We maybe would like to be like those folks, but we are not. So, crying in the process of being angry makes some of us feel weak. In our society, anger is often associated with power. If you cry, it might feel like you lose this "power."
One of the reasons we struggle with the fact that we cry when we're angry is that most people do not associate anger as an emotion, but rather a reaction.
Anger is seen as a reaction to something someone else has done. When angry, there is often an action that takes place - slamming of doors, shouting, throwing things, and sadly even physically assaulting someone.
There are so many different ways people act during an angry episode – including with angry tears. We lose sight of the fact that anger is a legitimate and real emotion; it is a part of the human experience. It would not be normal or healthy if we never got angry. It's about how we choose to express it.
Most of us would rather hit something rather than be reduced to a sobbing mess in front of the person we desperately want to understand why we are angry and express what we want them to change. If we "angry criers" will look at our track record, we might see that we resolve more differences than those who act out violently by yelling, blaming, or hitting. It’s not surprising that people feel embarrassed about angry crying, but it’s too bad that people don’t recognize that it can be healthy. Use the rational part of the brain to try to remember that angry crying isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Anger – The Secondary Emotion
The interesting part is that anger is an emotion and it is actually a secondary emotion. The primary emotions are ones that make us feel more vulnerable such as fear, anxiety, disrespect, shame, and others. These emotions are not equated with power in our society, anger is, so it is often the one expressed, when really, the person is likely feeling a primary emotions and anger is what ends up being expressed.
This is a little more common with men. Men often will feel less comfortable being vulnerable than women and will exhibit anger – including angry tears - more often. Some of this has to do with child development issues. Men may have been brought up in unhealthy ways and this negative child development has led to anger problems in adulthood. This can be remedied by seeking out help.
Both men and women can find solace in the fact that therapy helps people to deal with anger effectively. Take the time to process your anger in healthy ways. Get a glass of water and calm yourself down once you’re able to. If you feel the need, then you can get the assistance of a therapist to help you come to terms with your anger. You’ll be able to cope with anger much better moving forward and you won’t feel so embarrassed about angry crying any longer. Tears can be healthy whether they’re angry or not and a therapist can help you to ensure that you’re dealing with your emotions in healthy ways.
Crying Is Okay
People who cry when they are angry probably also cry when they're sad, and even when they're happy. Crying is a normal physiological reaction to feeling emotions. It isn’t unusual to feel like crying when you’re frustrated or angry. Violence occurs when people who are mad feel they are being punished and have no other outlet. This punishment could be an authoritarian parent or maybe peer groups for daring to tear up when chastised by a teacher.
The next time you have a sit-down with a son, daughter, husband, or even your boss and talk about something that has upset you or even angered you, bring on the tissues.
It is okay to feel angry because anger is a human emotion. Crying is a perfectly acceptable way of dealing with your feelings. Tears of rage can actually sometimes be healthy for you. If it bothers you, or you worry how other people will react, you can be upfront about and say matter-of-factly, "I cry sometimes when I'm mad." It is not anything to be embarrassed about. It is just like some people avoid saying good-bye because it makes them cry. It’s a simple physiological reaction. There is no need to be shy or embarrassed about a physiological reaction that you can’t necessarily control.
There are many people who have a hard time accepting that angry crying is okay. You might even be worried that crying is a symptom of some type of mental health issue. Some people do have disorders personality problems that lead to crying. Disorders personality issues aren’t typically the reason why people cry when they get angry, but you can always talk to a professional if you’re concerned. If you cry a lot and you think that it’s negatively impacting your life, then it might be best to seek help. You can come to understand your feelings and why you’re crying so much with the help of a professional. Your tears might just mean that you’re angry, but they could wind up meaning a lot more. Talk to someone who can help today to figure out if you’re angry or if you need help with another condition.
A Professional Can Help Answer the Question, "Why Do I Cry?"
Even though anger and crying are both normal reactions to feeling intense emotions, if you find that you are angry or crying for seemingly "no apparent reason," you may need to talk to someone to help resolve the issue. If you keep saying to yourself “I’m angry all the time and I can’t stop crying,” then that definitely might mean that you need help.
Sometimes, we feel feelings so intensely that they are hard to express. A counselor with experience in counseling and higher education in their area of expertise can be really helpful in teaching you ways to slow down and communicate what is important to you so that you can get your point across, possibly without crying angry tears.
Counseling can also be helpful if you find that you cry often because maybe you have an underlying belief that your words and feelings don't matter, or that no one will take you seriously.
If you want people to take you seriously, you have to feel confident. A counselor can work with you to help you gain confidence and find a communication style that works for you.
It is important that you understand that the way you feel is a personal right and no one can tell you that you are right or wrong. For people who grew up in households where children's feelings were not acknowledged or for someone who has been in an emotionally unhealthy relationship, this could be a barrier that a counselor can help them overcome.
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