What Do I Do About My Anger?

by | Oct 11, 2023 | Anxiety, Trauma

I remember the first time I felt angry about my trauma. It felt super unfamiliar, and I found myself feeling guilty about it.

I’ll never forget what my husband said to me. He shared with me how being able to access my anger seemed like a reflection of my healing, not of regression.

And something clicked for me in that moment. He was right.

For years I had such a low view of myself because of what happened. I was incredibly disconnected from my sense of worth that I couldn’t really access my anger.

Feeling angry was a sign that I was beginning to believe I mattered. It was a declaration that I didn’t deserve what that person did. I could see with clear eyes that the harm and trauma I endured was an attack on my dignity and worth. And it made me angry.

That’s what anger beckons us toward: clarity about things that violate our sense of safety, worth, and dignity. But lots of things get in the way of us accessing this fiercely protective internal compass.

That's what anger beckons us toward: clarity about things that violate our sense of safety, worth, and dignity.

To explore what’s getting in the way, check out this post about befriending your anger. This week we’re diving into what to do when your anger shows up. Here are seven steps to help you connect with it and start living more authentically:

7 Steps for Engaging Your Anger

1: Be Curious

What has your anger tried to do for you in the past? What might it be doing for you now? Recognize your anger is rooted in your protection, and allow it to flow freely in your body (as much as it feels safe to do so).

2: Notice

How are you experiencing your anger physically? Where do you feel it in your body? What are the sensations? Do you feel rigid, numb, energized, tense? Do you feel heat, pulsations, etc.?

As you connect with your somatic experience, also notice your feet on the floor beneath you, anchoring you to the ground. Return to your feet or your breath to steady yourself as often as you need to.

3: Listen

What is your anger communicating?

4: Say Thanks

How can you validate your anger’s intentions to protect you, or thank it for how it’s trying to serve you?

5: Ask

What is your anger inviting you into? Emotions tend to like somewhere to go, so how does this energy need to move?

Your anger may need to be released physically. A few examples of this may be to push a wall or push into pillows, throw a rock into a body of water, throw a tissue, or shake your body.

Does your anger need voice put to it? Perhaps you feel an inclination to communicate your needs, boundaries, or to name an offense. If you can’t address the person associated with your anger due to safety considerations or because you’re not yet regulated, what might it look like to put voice to your anger without involving that person? Can you journal? Can you grab an empty chair, imagine they’re sitting in it, and confront them? 

Your anger may be inviting you to guard or protect yourself. Might this look like changing your physical space? Or communicating a boundary? 

It’s important to note that releasing anger is not intended to be directed at others. This is a solo-sport or something to engage with in the context of therapy.

6: Remind

Remind yourself that anger is a natural response. If judgment or shame surfaces as you feel your anger, what might it be like to respond tenderly to that instead of burrowing further into harshness?

7: Honor

As much as it feels safe to do so, honor your body’s invitation in #5.

What is your anger inviting you into?

Honor Your Body’s Pacing

Honoring your body’s pace with this practice is so important. You can do so in a few ways: 

As with anything new, it’s best to practice this before you find yourself in the heat of the moment. You can walk through these same steps to work through a past experience with anger.

When you use this to work through a present experience, choose a less intense moment to start. Save the more distressing moments for therapy, where you can tap into support, co-regulation, and containment when you need it.

And as you access your anger, you may need to repeatedly ground yourself by regulating your breath or returning to the anchoring of your feet on the ground. Please give yourself permission to do so.

Next Steps: Explore Anger In a Safe Space With a Trauma Therapist in CO

If you’re ready to embrace your anger and learn to express it in healthy ways, consider exploring trauma therapy at Fio Counseling. Follow these 3 steps to get started:

  1. Schedule a free 20-minute consult call at a time that’s convenient for you.
  2. Connect with a trauma therapist in Denver, CO at Fio Counseling.
  3. Learn practical tools for transforming your relationship with yourself!
What is your anger inviting you into?

About the Author: Ali Arteaga, LPCC

Ali Arteaga (she/her) is a trauma therapist and the founder of Fio Counseling, a mental health therapy practice in Colorado. With a passion for connection, compassion, and curiosity, Ali is dedicated to helping her clients reclaim their lives from trauma and live abundant, authentic lives.

Embracing her own healing journey through complex trauma led Ali to devote her life to helping others feel at home within themselves. She’s been there (personally and professionally) and is a gentle, compassionate guide helping you find your way back to you.

Ali honors the uniqueness of your story and meets you where you’re at. She weaves in evidenced-based modalities such as Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy and somatic therapy into her work with clients.