When You're Incapable of Expressing Your Anger

29 February, 2020
Is it hard for you to express your anger? Read on to learn about how you can overcome this barrier to well-being!

Do you have a hard time expressing your anger? If your answer is “I never get angry”, well… that isn’t very believable. As a psychologist, I see people who get mad but can’t express it. These are people who even fool themselves, believing that they’re not mad when they really are. Different studies show that anger has cultural components and that it’s a normal emotion that helps you learn and grow emotionally.

The important thing is for you to know how to deal with your anger. For example, knowing how to express your anger is necessary for good emotional health. It’s necessary to “feel okay”, psychologically speaking. In this article, we’ll analyze the reasons why some people are incapable of expressing their anger, as well as the possible consequences of doing so.

I’m going to talk about the common phrases I’ve heard from my patients and explain what I’ve found behind these situations. It’s a good starting point to figure out why some people can’t express their anger and how to overcome that barrier.

Some of the reasons why you can’t express your anger

“I can’t express my anger because I don’t know how to.”

If you’re one of those people that says that you can’t express your anger, the main reason is likely that you’re not assertive. This could be a manifestation of many things:

  • You don’t have the ability to say what you think when you think it’ll “go against the flow”.
  • You feel incapable of doing it without losing your nerve.
  • You’re afraid of freezing when it’s time to communicate.
A man sitting on steps with his hands folded and head down.

Most books on the topic talk about assertiveness. However, most of them are theoretical. In order to express your anger, it’s necessary to have some things clear: what you want to say, what you feel, and how you need to say it.

Preparation is the key to success. Ask yourself what’s the purpose of your anger. In most cases, the answer will revolve around insecurity, self-doubts, and not confronting the situation. You also might let an opportunity pass you by.

“I can’t express my anger because I know that I don’t have a good reason to feel this way.”

The first question you have to ask yourself is what your anger is really telling me. It’s important to figure out the root cause of your anger. If your anger stems from selfish feelings or you’re angry just because something didn’t go your way, it’s normal for you to resist expressing it.

If you know deep down that you don’t have a good reason to be angry, you avoid showing it. Not expressing your anger in these circumstances is a protective mechanism: it protects you from looking ridiculous and regretting later on what you said or did.

Thus, when you’re angry, it’s fundamental for you to understand the reasons behind it. Ask yourself if you really have anything to feel angry about. Obviously, you can figure out the strategy: “I get angry but I don’t say anything. I ask myself if I have clear reasons to be angry and then I say what I think”. Because if you stop to analyze the reasons behind your anger and you decide they’re valid, this will give you the security and strength to express it.

“If I express my anger, I feel guilty.”

If you really have reasons to be angry but you feel guilty about it, then something isn’t right. In other words, you must accept that getting mad doesn’t make you a better or a worse person. If you’re mad, you should express your anger in a productive and appropriate way. You must work on your self-esteem. This is because, in that case, your thoughts are keeping you from expressing your anger.

Everything that you feel and experience is important enough for you to express it. In fact, you’re responsible for expressing your discomfort, and there’s no reason to feel guilty about it. Guilt is an emotion you have to manage because all it does is immobilize you so you don’t take action. Remember that you have a right to express your anger appropriately.

A woman leaning against her arm against a wall.

“Even if I express my anger, it doesn’t matter because everything stays the same.”

This situation is known as learned helplessness. You’ve learned that, no matter what you do, you can’t change your situation. If you identify with this type of difficulty regarding anger, it’s time for you to get to work. In this regard, you might need a clean slate with the people around you, such as your partner, your family, or your co-workers.

In this sense, Dr. Martin Seligman explained that learned helplessness isn’t healthy. It tires you on a psychological level and affects your capacity to personally change and develop every day.

In conclusion, firstly, you have to validate the reasons behind your anger. You need to know if they’re justified or not and you need to know if you’re expressing your anger correctly and politely. Then, you have to find a solution to what’s causing that learned helplessness. Get to work! It’ll be worth it in the end.