July 15, 2018 | Pennsylvania Counseling Services, Inc.

an emotion characterized by tension and hostility arising from frustration, real or imagined injury by another, or perceived injustice. Anger is distinct from, but a significant activator of, aggression, which is behavior intended to harm someone or something.


Anger is one of our most misunderstood and frightening emotions. Frequently confused by others and confusing to ourselves, it can be destructive unless expressed in a healthy way. However, when anger is understood and communicated clearly, it can strengthen and deepen relationships.

Anger is a surface emotion. It signals deeper problems or issues. To understand our anger, we need to be open and honest about our feelings so we can uncover the deeper sources of our emotions.

Diagrammed, anger and its underlying causes look like an iceberg, and anger is only the tip of the issues involved.


Naturally, people often deal with anger in one of two unhelpful ways:

some people bottle up their anger, letting it smolder and grow

some people immediately explode without much thought or control

In most cases, the best way to deal with anger is to learn to express feelings in a non-offensive way. It’s important to understand the nature and source of our anger so we can process and control our feelings before we hurt others with angry outbursts, decisions or withdrawl.


A woman passes her friend in a hallway, and the friend walks directly by her without making eye contact or saying hello. At first the woman feels angry.

If the woman is honest with herself, she can tell she felt hurt about being ignored, especially since her friend is important to her.

The woman was expecting to be greeted when walking past a friend because it’s socially appropriate. More deeply, she was expecting a emotional response like a smile or conversation since her friend is more than a casual acquaintance.

Beyond her expectations, the woman has an even deeper than normal need to be acknowledged, stemming from rejection she experienced as a child. Her friend walking by without acknowledging her triggered memories of pain and past rejections.


It’s important to remember that everyone feels angry at times. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion. It’s a part of being alive. But it’s also important to learn to use anger to clarify our feelings toward others and to help build deeper, long-lasting relationships. Only then can anger become a constructive force for achieving happy, peaceful and fulfilling lives.

If you or someone you know is having a difficult time expressing their anger or understanding where it’s coming from, we can help. Check out our outpatient services page for a full range of treatment options including individual and family counseling.