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Anger – Whose Fault Is It Anyways?

Lori Freson


Anger is a strong emotion that everyone feels sometimes. Unfortunately, our society has convinced us that it is a negative or bad emotion. The truth is there is no such thing as a negative or bad emotion. There are just emotions. All of them are created equally, and all of them will be experienced by everyone at some point. This is normal and even healthy. To shut out certain emotions is incredibly unhealthy and only leads to bigger problems.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You made me angry?” Are you an angry person who finds yourself getting angry often and blaming others for your anger? Wouldn’t it be great if all of this were true? Then, all we would have to do to not be angry anymore is fix the other person. But, whose fault is it really? Let’s be honest. If your anger is everyone else’s fault, than you are personally unable to fix it unless everyone else decides to change. That’s a lot of power to give away to others, sometimes even strangers.

Here is a different option to consider. You are solely responsible for your own anger and how you choose to express it and deal with it. This is precisely why not everyone has the same reaction to the same situation. For example, when someone cuts you off on the freeway, some people just let the person in and let it go. They might even tell themselves that this person must really be in a rush, or maybe they didn’t see my car here. But, another person, an angrier person, might get very agitated and yell profanity at the other driver. Both are choices.

If you are unwilling to take responsibility for your own anger, you will likely continue to get angrier an angrier. Because you have no control over others, they will continue to do things that make you angry, and you will never get the peace and resolution you are seeking. However; if you choose to own your anger and take responsibility for it, then and only then can you make the necessary changes to find lasting happiness. This is, of course, easier said than done.

It is not an easy task taking ownership and taking charge of your own emotions, especially anger. Here are some helpful hints for taking the control back from your anger:

  1. Pay attention to your body. Most of us can learn to notice the physical signs of anger coming on, which can frequently help us choose a better path than lashing out or being destructive. Some typical signs are sweating, shaking, feeling very hot.   If you notice your voice getting louder and louder, you are likely getting angry.
  2. Own your anger. When you feel the signs of anger coming on, you don’t have to try to fight it. And you certainly shouldn’t blame others for it. What you do need to make sure of is that you don’t act upon the anger in an inappropriate way.
  3. Don’t blame, but do speak up. When your partner snaps at you, rather than snapping back even louder, and then telling them it’s their fault because they started it by making you mad in the first place, use different language. Describe what is happening and how you feel. For example, “When you yell at me, I feel disrespected, violated, and very angry. I don’t like being yelled at. Please don’t yell at me again”.
  4. Don’t threaten the other person. Never say, “If you ever yell at me again, I will punch you in the face.” That is actually a threat, and threats are not only abusive and illegal, but also don’t really accomplish anything. It will likely make things worse.
  5. When you are feeling angry, ask yourself what is going on and why you might be feeling so angry about it. Is it something you are sensitive about? Is it a desire to be in control when you can’t? Does something about it feel too familiar from your past?
  6. Find healthy ways to express your anger, to communicate more effectively, and to cope with your anger.

Anger can be scary, so it seems logical that many of us simply try to either avoid it altogether, or blame it on our partners, children, colleagues, or others. If you are really struggling with your anger, and you’re getting angry too often, it might be time to seek help. A skilled therapist can help you develop the tools you need to take responsibility for your own anger, explore its origins, and find solutions.

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Lori Freson

Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.