How to Use Your Anger to Help Yourself

Woman Breathing Deeply

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.” ~Carl Jung

I’ve experienced many degrees of anger throughout my life.

There’s the fleeting and mild kind of anger that hit me when I realized I forgot to pack my toothbrush, or when a friend was tardy again for our morning hike.

Then, there’s the corroding and strong kind of anger that I felt when I discovered that my husband had been lying to me for months.

Half-truths about his after-work activities and the people he met during those activities led to an affair, and the affair led to more half-truths and bigger lies.

I was angry with my husband for lying, but also with myself for not having noticed the first signs of dishonesty. Later, I was irate for being so naïve to give him multiple chances to change his behavior, only to be deceived again.

Angry thoughts would materialize seemingly out of nowhere, and every time the Angry Monster attacked, I felt the urgent need to hide it away before anyone would realize that I had become prey to this negative emotion.

If I am a good person, I thought, I shouldn’t feel anger.

We grew up hearing that anger is a weakness. Anger is shameful. Anger is like one of those buzzing mosquitoes that must be squashed before it bites us. Anger is a monster. But now I know that’s not all there is to anger.

I've learned that anger can actually be helpful if we know how to manage it. How? Read on.

Anger can help you know yourself better.

I understood that the intense anger I experienced when my husband lied to me shows I deeply value honesty and openness. This allowed me to prioritize these qualities in future relationships.

Keep in mind that when someone does something that makes you angry, you have the opportunity to learn what your personal values are.

Also, when anger strikes, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re angry. Are you offended by something that was said to you? This might mean that there is a hint of truth in what the other person said.

Contemplate offensive comments with an objective mind. If you realize there’s some truth in the statement, use it as an opportunity to become a better person. If you conclude that the comment has no real basis, then you can send it to the trash folder of your mind.

Anger can help you raise your energy level and move out of depression and despair.

Based on scientific studies of the energy associated with human emotions, anger calibrates at a higher energy level than hopelessness, apathy, or despair.

My anger propelled me to try new activities and meet new people to show the world I was reclaiming my dignity and my future.

Next time anger surfaces, let it drive you to take positive action and to change the unpleasant circumstances in your life.

You can choose to reject the labels society has assigned to anger.

When you feel ashamed for being angry, as society says you should feel, you let yourself sink to low energy emotions.

Your shame and guilt, coupled with repressed anger, can negatively affect your body and create conditions such as heart disease, digestive problems, and weakness of the immune system. Worst of all, you’ll be unable to experience authentic joy.

One day I asked myself why being angry was such a source of shame. That’s when I realized I had been judging my emotions based on the messages I had received from my environment. These messages were not helping me feel good enough to let go of my anger.

Instead of becoming a victim of society’s expectations, choose to see anger as an emotion that is part of the human experience and a tool that can help you become a better person.

You have the power to select how to express your anger.

Angry people are portrayed as bitter or aggressive, but this doesn’t have to be the case for you.

Kickboxing became my physical outlet to release any residual angry feelings. You could choose to express your anger through journaling, sharing your feelings with a trusted friend, or going for the fastest three-mile run of your life!

You decide how long to be angry.

I realized that although I could use anger in positive ways, it was stealing my ability to be happy.

I knew I deserved to be happy again, so I reminded myself that I had a choice to let go every time my angry thoughts surfaced. Over time, it became easier to return to a state of peace and contentment.

You can choose to take advantage of the lessons in your anger, and then let the feelings go. Tell your anger that you’re too busy making the best out of your time to allow him in your life for long!

Woman breathing deeply image via Shutterstock

About Cloris Kylie Stock

Cloris Kylie, Marketing MBA, helps entrepreneurs to attract the right clients so that they skyrocket their impact and revenue! A sought-after speaker, trainer, and author, Cloris has been featured on various television and radio shows, including the #1 podcast for entrepreneurs, "Entrepreneur On Fire." Cloris's articles have been published on websites with millions of followers. Visit her website here

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  • Hi Cloris
    I really loved this post..thank you so much for sharing your story. That wouldn’t be an easy topic to talk about. You bring up so many excellent points. The one about examining anger to see what triggered it is one I have gotten better at doing over the years with all my personal development ‘work’ as they call it. That what we don’t like in others is something we don’t like in ourselves is a great truth, though one that can be very uncomfortable to come to terms with.

    I really liked the part about examining our anger can help us figure out what we want and what is important to us. I never really thought about it that way before. I was well aware of using what I didn’t like in life as a springboard for figuring out what I do. But, the general view on anger as being ‘bad’ can prevent us from examining it as anything useful.

    It really is a higher energy emotion and while it may not feel great, it definitely can spur us into meaningful action much more quickly than those lower-energy feelings like depression. There is some spark there, and that is what we need to make a change.

    I have become better ‘friends’ with my anger over the years. When I first started my little journey of growth, I too thought on some level I would need to eliminate anger lest I was not advancing, but I now realize that isn’t true.

    I think this was a really great post and will give people a very helpful perspective on this topic.

  • Gary

    Looks like you’ve done some good thinking about how to handle your anger.
    But we don’t have to feel anger in the first place. Anger is the result of self-pity. Feeling sorry for ourselves, we invent a victim story: someone or something is doing something to us. We think our anger comes from outside ourselves somehow and we become a leaf at the mercy of the wind. The we invent a victim story, a bad explanation for what is going on. Next, we obsess and hope that justice will be done to the person or people we are convinced are doing something to us.
    Getting rid of our self-pity is the work here, and it is very hard work–work that most people avoid. It’s much easier to claim to be a victim and argue that’s it’s only human to blow up, rage, and act crazy.

  • Donna

    Hi Cloris,
    Great post on how to use anger to your advantage! My take on anger is this. As you mention, anger is an emotion that is strong and powerful. I think that when I feel anger in response to something that someone else has done, it usually results from feelings of sadness, disappointment, or betrayal. Usually, I’m feeling that I have not been treated fairly by that individual. Those feelings are generally ones that, if expressed, would leave me more vulnerable to that individual in the future. (If I tell you that what you have done that has harmed me in some way, then you know how to harm me again.) When I feel angry, I look to see what softer, more vulnerable emotion is attached. Am I disappointed because I worked on something for hours, only to have you undo it without seeming to care? Am I sad and hurt because you lied to me and betrayed me, without thinking about how that might affect me? Am I afraid that your behaviour toward me might signal that you have a different set of values that do not match with mine, and that the behaviour might be repeated? Once I know the source of my anger, then I need to consider the other person. Is this someone with whom I wish to maintain a relationship? Is it someone I can trust with my true feelings? Is it someone who I know cares about me? If so, then I can take the chance of expressing those softer, more vulnerable feelings because I’m fairly certain that they will care that they’ve harmed me and want to avoid doing that in the future. If not, then as you say, it gives me more information about what I value in a relationship and I can choose my relationships more wisely in the future. It is healthier for me to let some people go, or to limit my involvement with them when they cannot be trusted to care about me. For those who do care about me, my willingness to be vulnerable helps them to know me better as a person and helps them to know how to be a better friend to me.

  • Cup_O_Jo

    Gary I disagree. What is your feeling/path with anger is not anothers. Not everyone’s experience of anger is self pity. And is not the always the “work” that needs to be done.

  • Gary

    Cup O Jo, This is a universal issue. For the minority of the human species who have erased self-pity in their lives, anger is erased. Conscious people take responsibility for the lives they are creating. They have learned that anger, resentment, impatience, and irritation only rise up when the ego is pricked by something it doesn’t like.
    No ego: no anger. No self-pity: no anger. The only way for you to test this universal pattern is to notice what is going on when you experience these emotions: you will notice that you always blame somebody or something outside yourself.
    People who have learned to erase self-pity have set themselves free and live a vibrant life of joy and practical advantage.

  • igo

    i agree 100% – anger is a tool that can be used just like any other emotion

  • Guest

    Love this and Donna’s reply!!!!! Thanks for sharing! Sooooo true!

  • HI Gary
    I do agree with what you say to a point. You are right that no one can make us feel a certain way, but I wouldn’t always label the reaction felt as ‘self-pity.’

    I also agree that it is possible to reach a point where we no longer feel anger or any other negative emotion ever, but being human, I think most of us will grapple with these feelings from time to time, even those of us who do a lot of ‘work’ on ourselves and ‘know better.’

    I am very well aware I am responsible for my own reactions,etc.. but sometimes we don’t always FEEL what we KNOW. The best we can do is keep investigating our triggers and finding ways to live more peacefully.

    If you have reached that state where you no longer feel any sort of negative emotion, I tip my hat to you. You have accomplished something very worthwhile!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Kelli, thank you for your beautifully-written and insightful
    comment! I’m glad to hear it sparked new ideas and perspectives in your mind.
    Please stay in touch via social media or my site!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for the great discussion. It’s always good to
    bring new perspectives. I would add that self-love will help us deal and
    prevent anger, but when anger still strikes, we can use it to help ourselves.
    Anger doesn’t need to be a source of shame.

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for reading the article! All the best to you!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Donna, thank you for your comment! Many times we have a hard
    time letting go of toxic people, but it’s a must to do so. It can also be
    challenging to trust people when we’ve been hurt, but we need to allow
    ourselves to trust others, and also to trust our gut feeling. Hope you connect
    with me via social media or my site!

  • Talya Price

    Anger is a part of life. I do not think it is a bad thing. You need the yin and yang in life. However if you let anger consume you then you have a problem. I used to be so angry with my ex and angry about all the things he did to me and all the lies he told me. But once I let go of all that anger I became a better person and good things started to happen in my life. But if I had not gone through that then I would not be the person I am today.

  • Yes, anger is a part of life for most people–a weakness in any person who has it, defends it, or rationalizes how human it is. Check out with people close to you what they think about your anger and your defense of it. But it is not an inevitable part of your life.
    Anger distorts what is going on at the moment. Angry, we can’t see clearly what is going on. With our distorted understanding of what is going on when we are angry, resentful, irritated, or impatient, we make mistakes.
    Anger and its cousins in self-pity are always ugly and lead to bad decisions. The only proper reaction to feeling angry is to realize that you’re distorting–coming up with bad explanations. How can we cling to our anger when it is the enemy of a good life?
    When we are angry, we cannot love. Anger is an affliction of self-pity.
    The good news is that we can rise to a level of consciousness free of anger. At this level we have access to our full powers and to our love no matter what is going on.

  • I had a great time reading this post. Anger is indeed considered as a negative emotions but by examining it, that could help us in our lives going further!

  • jeff

    A really interesting discussion especially as it is on a platform that has Buddhism at its masthead. The Dalia Lama is an example and teacher of what we can learn from Buddhism and how to eliminate anger.
    A Buddhist saying that I have read is “anger is like holding onto a hot rock ..the longer you do that the more you will get burned”. From my reading I have learnt that if you use compassion and empathy towards the person or situation that has raised that anger within you then with practise you can eliminate it. Sometimes you have to peel back many layers or circumstances to do this. One way I look at it is that we are all products of our genetic or nurturing environment over which we have no control … babies don’t come into this world as evil beings. By looking at the people in this world who don’t understand that the more you give the more your receive have to have compassion for them..its not their fault they were never taught this gift of knowledge and the sad thing for them is that they are missing out on so much love because of this.
    As Gary says the ego we all have is something we need to learn about and I have found The Power of Now to be helpful reading to me with this.

  • I love journaling, expressing my thoughts when I am angry. I try not to confront anyone when I am angry because it’s not worth anyone’s time talking things out, when I am angry. I just write, let everything flow and just make peace with myself. Often times, I just overdramatise everything (based on experience). Once I am alright, It’s alarming to read the stuff I wrote, but I guess that’s just part of the learning process.

  • Filitech

    Very good article, agree 100%! There is nothing wrong with anger as an emotion, it is simply an emotion, just like any other emotions. What does that mean? It is simply a manifestations of sensations in the body, nothing more, nothing less. We choose how we express these emotions and how we deal with them. Unfortunately often times people confuse anger with hostility, aggressiveness or violent behaviour, whilst it can be expressed in other, beneficial ways.

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for reading the post, Benja! I think we can use anything that pops into our life (even anger) as an opportunity to make our life better. Connect with me via social media or my site!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Talya, thank you for your comment. I’m glad to hear that you’ve let go of the anger and have moved on to the amazing life you deserve! Yes, we don’t need to condemn anger or we’ll be paying even more attention to the angry feelings (and they’ll grow.) Please connect with me through my site or FB/Twitter 🙂

  • Cloris Kylie

    Beautiful comment, Filitech. Thank you. It’s all about perception! Hope you connect with me via social media or my site!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Great point, Syaf. If we’re obfuscated, we need to give ourselves some time to cool off before making any decision or taking action. Stay in touch via social media or my site!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Jeff, I love the Power of Now and A New Earth. Great books. Thank you for your contribution! I agree that compassion will allow us to prevent anger. All the best to you!

  • Yes..that’s true! Sure, I will connect with you Social Media. Have a good one!

  • Talya Price

    I disagree with you on some parts of your comment. Anger is not a bad thing. You need balance in your life. If life was easy would you appreciate it the good things in life? A person who does not allow themselves to be angry is a dead person. Anger is an inevitable part of life. Emotions are up and down and in between, the good the bad and the ugly.

    When I am angry I am not scared anymore like I used to be. I embrace my anger, I embrace my depression, I embrace my dark side because it is a part of life. In fact there is no good nor bad, it just is. So embrace your anger and your happiness. It’s all the same.

  • Well, if there is no good or bad, I guess you won’t mind if someone kills you. The rest of us will say, “Oh, it just is.”
    Most of us think there’s a big difference between anger and happiness.

  • Stella

    I enjoyed your story & gained some inspiration from it, thank you for that perspective =)

  • Talya Price

    Oh Please! you are over-analyzing what I said and what I meant. I am not in the mood for this trolling discussion. I am done. Agree to disagree. Done!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you, Benja! All the best to you!

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for reading it, Stella! So happy to hear my writing inspired you. Hope you stay in touch! 🙂

  • Seven7

    I am intrigued by the thought, “If I am a good person, I shouldn’t feel anger.” I don’t tend to feel that way. When I am angry, I feel like it is *because* I am a good person. I am angry when people do things that don’t align with my values, and when I do things that don’t align with my own values. When I am angry, I am angry not only about the offensive thing itself, but also at the fact that society doesn’t deem it appropriate to express anger. I feel like it ought to be OK to be testy with someone, but some people’s tolerance for anger is so low that they think you are a raging maniac (and treat you that way) if you are even slightly angry. When people react that way I think “Oh, you think this is anger? You have *no idea*!” Does that make me very different from a lot of other people?

  • Shan

    i like your thoughts, i like the way you are handling your anger, thank you for this beautiful post. as you all talk about Buddha, i would like to mention how he want to handle it, he said “Accept the pain”, pain cause the anger and other negative emotions. ones you accepts the pain and starts to deal with it! there won’t be anger anymore. maybe pain causes by external factors, but anger is you! your mind’s reaction! you can handle it when you understand your pain. I know, i said it like an easy task… but it will be easy with a good practice, trust me!

  • As a former U.S. Marine infantryman, I could speak *volumes* on the benefits of shaping anger and passion as a tool to acquire goals in our lives. The key is to internalize that and let it burn within us, but not to allow it to spill over into our affective relationships. The danger here is that will happen if we stop working towards goals and objectives. Discontent and that ‘inner fire’ (which is a God-given tool for change) will become a tool for travesty in our close relationships. It is only when we (re)acquire those goals and pour emotions (like anger and passion) into them will our relationships begin to heal; starting with ourselves and then extending to others.

  • Cloris Kylie

    Beautiful words. Yes, healing starts within us and it naturally spreads to others. Thank you! Hope you stay in touch.

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for reading the article and for your comment, Shan! Yes, this experience has helped my spiritual growth in amazing ways…

  • Ed

    With respect, I disagree. it sounds like the author is endorsing using anger as a tool for transformative change, but in a negative, “I’ll show *him*!” sort of way.

    Anger many times gives us the opportunity to take a good, hard, honest look at ourselves, to see what behavior in the other person or circumstance is reflecting something within ourselves, not to justify our anger. When we are angry with another for dishonestly, for example, it’s a bit disingenuous to turn it into something self-righteous and say, “that means I value honesty.” That may be what’s seen on the surface, but it’s also an opportunity to go deeper, past the self-righteous reaction, and really look at ourselves. The Universe, Spirit, God, what-have-you would not have allowed us those experiences if there weren’t a deep lesson or lessons to learn from the experience, past the reactionary “I was right and they were wrong!” What fear triggered that anger? It has been said that everyone and everything around us is a mirror to show us ourselves. If we see dishonesty around us, how are we being dishonest with either others or – even more importantly – with ourselves?

    We may choose to use the energy of our anger to drive ourselves forward, but is that really enlightenment? Or is the wiser path one of transcending that anger,using it to engender compassion and understanding for ones who have seemingly wronged us?

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for your contribution, Ed. I appreciate disagreements because they help me see things under a new light, and even if my thoughts and opinions remain the same, disagreements are opportunities for growth.
    Is there common ground here? Yes. I do agree that compassion and understanding are essential elements to enlightenment, and that’s why I deeply explore them in my writing. All the best to you!

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  • Naitik

    Tanq..Very much Cloris. It was really a fantastic article on how to see your anger in a positive way. I always saw my anger as my weakness… but now I can proudly say that I have ANGER….

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you so much for your comment, Naitik! I’m glad to know you’ve been able to see your anger from a new perspective. Hope you stay in touch through my site or social media!

  • LaTrice Dowe

    According to your post, anger is the most powerful and strong emotion. I agree on that. I feel that anger can result in betrayal, sadness and disappointment. There are times when I’m not being treated fairly by an individual, and those feelings would encourage me to be more vulnerable towards that individual in the future. How will I know that I won’t be treated unfairly again? How can I trust that individual?

    For example, I used my anger to the biggest advantage, by standing up for myself. I don’t allow anyone to disrespect me, use me, and hurt me, so yes, I’m quick to call them out on their nonsense. I’m not expecting an apology coming from that individual, but their actions will place me on high alert. Otherwise, I do have the option to walk away.

    Great post, Cloris.

  • Cloris Kylie

    Thank you for reading and for the comment, LaTrice! Anger can motivate us to take positive action, and from positive action come positive emotions. All the best to you!

  • Paul Ronco

    I think I know what both of you are trying to say. According to the Buddha, anger is not a natural human emotion. It just appears to be, as it is so prevalent in humanity and so ancient, spanning many eons of rebirths. In other words the vast majority of humanity has to make the best of anger virtually every day of their lives, and for many future lifetimes as well. In enlightened states, however, anger cannot exist. Ram Dass speaks of the ultimate worthlessness of anger on Soundcloud (“Ram Dass on Fear, Anger & Love – Dealing With Anger”) as does Ven. Robina Courtin on Youtube (“Love and Attachment 122013”).