When talking about anger, it’s important to remember a few things about emotions in general.
Emotions are just emotions.
It’s ok to feel them and it’s important to express them. You can’t control if and when they appear, but you can control how you listen to them and respond.
There is a difference between responding and reacting to your emotions. Reacting is that knee jerk reaction when you experience word vomit and can possibly hurt others or make a decision that you later regret. Responding is when you first acknowledge your emotions internally and then make an informed decision about what to do.
When you acknowledge that you’re feeling angry you can listen to what the anger is telling you. Anger can be a great signal that your rights or the rights of others are being violated. And when we respond instead of react, anger can be a helpful energy to bring about change. When responding, it’s important to determine when to process your anger on your own, and when to share your anger with someone else.
When someone cuts you off in traffic you may feel angry because your rights were violated. That’s where you were driving first and they just put you in unnecessary danger. A knee jerk reaction might be to speed up and cut them off to validate your anger. But responding and saying out loud “ugh that makes me angry when people do that, I really feel livid right now” can validate your anger AND keeps you from putting yourself in more danger had you reacted and sped up.
If a friend borrows an outfit from you and promises to give it back, but you see them wearing it again a month later it would be appropriate to share your feelings with the person directly. Your anger is telling you that your rights have been violated because they are not honoring your agreement. Telling a different friend would be misplaced anger and would still be reacting, “can you believe she is wearing it again?!” It’s ok to say to the friend directly, “I’m frustrated that you said you would return that, but you’re still wearing it. Can I pick it up from you tomorrow?” Be specific in your request and use your anger to take action instead of to simply complain.