Why Do I Cry When I Get Mad, It Makes Me Look Weak?
By Sarah Fader
Updated March 17, 2020
Reviewer 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. Everyone expresses anger differently. If you find that you get so mad that you start crying, you're not alone in this, and it doesn't make you weak; it makes you human.
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 yellings. 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. 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 that you can use, such as meditation, therapy, or journaling. We'll discuss these tools later in the article.
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. 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. Some people are more in touch with their emotions 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. Crying is a coping skill, and when you're angry, you are also uncomfortable. You want to soothe yourself, and crying is a way of self-soothing.
BetterHelp Understands Your Anger
If you're not sure why you cry when you're angry, online counseling can help you figure that out. The counselors at BetterHelp understand complex emotions, including anger. 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. 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
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. When you're angry, it triggers your sympathetic nervous system. Your breathing becomes shallow, your heart races, and your blood pressure increases. Meditation helps you to calm your mind and central nervous system, thus making it easier to relax. 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.
You may keep a journal to express your feelings or record anecdotes from your daily life. Journaling can be used for a variety of different purposes. There's a specific type of journaling that can help you with understanding and managing anger. It's called a structured thought journal. The goal of this type of diary is to help you identify triggers and learn how to respond to them healthily. By keeping a structured thought journal, you're learning to identify what makes you angry, why, and how to respond to it rather than react. That's a painful lesson to learn, but it's possible by using the structured thought journal. Here's how it works:
Event: Write down the event that made you angry. Maybe your boss yelled at you at work. You didn't feel that you did anything wrong. You were following their orders. You're angry, and you want to yell back, but you know that's not going to help the situation.
Thought: What was your immediate reaction to the event? Perhaps you thought, "I don't deserve to be treated this way. I'm being taken advantage of and disrespected." Maybe you started to wonder why you haven't been promoted. 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. It may take time to understand what made you feel these feelings, but by reading your thoughts about the incident, you're going to have a better concept of why your boss' treatment riled you up, and how to respond in the future.
Behavior: What do you do next? Do you yell back at your boss? Do you cry in the bathroom? Maybe you go outside the office and vent to a friend on the phone. It's important to note what you do when you become angry. If you find that you're getting emotional after being reprimanded at work, that's normal. Many people get upset when they get in trouble on the job. Understanding why you're taking the actions you take will help you learn and grow.
Consequences: What happens as a result of all these thoughts, feelings, and actions. Let's say you internalize your anger and cry to a co-worker at lunch. Does that make the situation better? It might make you feel less alone in your anger. Or, maybe you take a moment to talk to your supervisor and let him know how he treated you hurt your feelings. It's okay to have emotions at work. You don't have to be a robot. You're a human being and expressing how you feel can improve relationships with your co-workers.
A structured thought journal is an excellent place to work through anger. Generally, the sooner you can intervene in this sequence, the better. The most effective method is to control the thoughts or the events. For example, if you're angry at a driver who cut you off, start by controlling your thoughts: Maybe they just heard their parent is in the hospital. It happens. Perhaps they're just jerks; in this case, tell yourself, "What does that have to do with me? I'm just trying to get to Point B, not retrain all the rude drivers out there!"
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.
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. 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" and are therefore weak.
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. 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. For some bizarre reason, violence is equated with strength and emotion is equated with weakness in our world. 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.
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 more often. In the example above, the mom is feeling disrespected by her son. This might even make her feel more emotions, such as fear that she will not be able to get him to respect her and fear that it is only going to keep getting harder. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense why she ended up crying. She is feeling a lot more than the anger that she identifies with.
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. Violence occurs when people who are mad feel they are being punished. 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. 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.
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. Sometimes, we feel feelings so intensely that they are hard to express. A counselor 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.
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 were 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.