Explains anger, some possible causes and how it can make you feel and act. There's practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support. This includes advice for friends and family.
What does anger feel like?
Anger feels different for everyone. You might experience some of the things listed below. You might also have other experiences or difficulties that aren't listed here.
This page covers:
- An uncomfortable or churning feeling in your stomach
- Tightness in your chest
- An increased and rapid heartbeat
- Your legs go weak
- Tense muscles
- You feel hot
- You have an urge to go to the toilet
- Headaches or tension in your head or eyes
- Shaking or trembling
- Grinding your teeth
It feels like there's a ball of fire in the middle of my chest that blurts its way straight out of my mouth and burns the people around me.
How you act when you're angry can depend on how you identify and cope with your feelings. And how you've learned to express them. See our page on why we get angry for more information.
Not everyone expresses anger in the same way. For example, some ways you may have learned to express anger include:
- Outward aggression – such as shouting, swearing, slamming doors, hitting or throwing things, being physically violent, threatening others, or being verbally abusive.
- Inward aggression – such as telling yourself that you hate yourself, denying yourself basic needs (like food or sleep), avoiding things that might make you happy, isolating yourself from others or self-harming.
- Non-violent or passive aggression – such as ignoring people, refusing to speak to them, suggesting you might leave or do something to hurt yourself, refusing to do tasks or deliberately doing them poorly or late, or saying sarcastic or indirectly unkind things.
Recognising these signs may give you a chance to think about how you want to react to a situation before doing or saying anything. This can be very difficult in the heat of the moment. But the earlier you notice how you're feeling, the easier it may be to manage your anger.
I could recognise the signs. Behaving aggressively and then feeling guilty and shameful about it afterwards.
We all express our emotions differently. This can be impacted by our culture, our personality, how we were brought up and many other things.
Some people struggle to understand when others express their emotions in a different way to them. Because of this, we may sometimes feel judged about the way we express our anger. Or people may assume we're angry when we're not.
Society has some strong ideas when it comes to expressing emotions; you have to behave in a certain way.
There are also lots of negative stereotypes around anger. Some of us may be judged more harshly for our anger than others. This could be due to racism, sexism or other forms of discrimination or bias.
Because of this, you may feel like you need to suppress your own feelings of anger or hurt. Or you may worry that you'll be blamed or judged if you express your feelings, when others wouldn't be.
This can be very frustrating and upsetting, especially if impacts our daily lives, jobs or relationships. Or if it means that we feel like we have to accept being mistreated. But it's important to remember that you deserve support and respect. And that your feelings are valid.
I was often made to feel as if I was the problem and told that I needed to control my anger when I was simply just trying to address how I was feeling.