Women and anger

by Dandy

The past couple of weeks I’ve received a few emails from women concerning my post on Boundary Lessons.  This has created some lively discussion on women’s issues, anger, betrayal, forgiveness, expression.  So I’ve been asked to write about this topic some more. 

There was a rough patch in my life awhile ago that caused me to have some serious anger issues.  I didn’t like experiencing  that emotion and sought out counseling and read many, many books about the subject.  I would like to share some of the tools I’ve learned. 

Know your triggers

For most women, our triggers are around issues of power, justice, and responsibility.  We  become angry when we cannot meet our own expectations, when we cannot change frustrating circumstances from work or home, and being treated unfairly or disrespectfully.

The self-esteem factor

Venting anger is even more harmful than keeping it in.  Labels like bitch, shrew, ball-buster mean to undermine self-esteem.   To enhance self-esteem people need to feel loveable, and competent, and venting anger does neither of these.  Having low-self esteem makes people more likely to be easily provoked and to express their anger in volatile ways.  When we are angered we  tend to regard innocent acts and words as personal affronts, further undermining self-esteem. 

Another counterproductive response to anger (this one was so me) is a tendency to ruminate and brood about the precipitating event, construing it as unfair and deliberately provoking said rumination only worsened angry feelings.

When we have high self-esteem we have fewer anger symptoms and are much less likely to brood about the events that provoke anger.  We also have a less propensity to become angry or to keep anger in, or to vent it. 

Rather than suppressing anger or negatively expressing it, women with high self-esteem tend to discuss their anger in a problem solving way, either with a confidante, or with the person who provoked it, or both.

Women with high self-esteem also do not have to busy themselves with protecting a fragile sense of self, but can identify the salient aspects of the anger producing situation and approach it from a problem solving stance.

Women who suppress their anger also suffer from low self-esteem, because they’d allowed themselves to be treated as doormats or punching bags.  Occasionally after prolonged suppression, their anger would erupt in a way that was out of proportion to the triggering event, making  them feel guilty and worthless, further lowering self-esteem( this was me too).


The difference between venting and expressing

*Analyse what makes you angry with out walking around it.  Without blaming or reaching for complaints.  Recognize it.  Validate it by writing it down. 

*Admit your anger, feel it out.  Exercise, yell into a pillow.  Go running.  Tear apart old phone books. Depending on the intensity of the emotion this may not always be necessary, some may prefer to draw, paint, or write in a journal.  Expressing anger in this way is so positive and healthy, and it is not venting out, hurting people.  Regardless of whether or not they make sense our feelings are an essential part of who we are – no longer allow repression.  With expression there is no room for it!

* Understand the deeper meaning.  Once you’ve allowed yourself to really feel it and you are aware of where or who it has been directed to.  There is almost always another feeling behind anger. 

* Set boundaries!  Plan ahead.  Say what you want.  Hold yourself responsible for your own happiness.

* Know your limits.  Recognize those triggers.  Find the roots of them.

* Value yourself and forgive.  Forgive others for not always getting it right.  Forgive yourself.

On a side note, any emails sent to me will absolutely, positively be private.  I do not share emails or names, and do not discuss private conversation with anyone, ever.  Privacy is a huge issue for me!  If there is anything you would like to discuss or comment on in private please email me at thereflectiveself@hotmail.com


38 Comments to “Women and anger”

  1. Dandy, you are very wise for your young age. Alot of us don’t “get it” until we’re up there in age. Excellent post, we all need to be reminded to look within ourselves, before we lose our temper, and that isn’t always easy. As a reminder to myself, to calm myself down before losing my temper I say the first sentence of the Lord’s prayer in my head. We all need something like that as reasurance that we don’t have to handle a sitution by ourselves. Thank you.

    • Hi Deb,
      I love the idea of saying the Lords Prayer. I’ll remember that one. It will have us know that we aren’t alone! Thanks so much for commenting & the picture looks great!

  2. Thank you Dandy for sharing. Being anger is not any fun at all. And it can have a lot to do with our self-esteem. With low self-esteem it can be very easy to fall into a victim mode and get angry. I really like the tearing up of an old phone book. Sounds like fun and would also work when we get frustrated. LOL thanks again for sharing and you my beautiful lady are special and a wonderful day. You are the best. Debbie

  3. Hi Dandy!

    Truely a very insigtful post.

    Two things stand out and two things come to mind for me:

    (1) Women who suppress their anger also suffer from low self-esteem, because they’d allowed themselves to be treated as doormats or punching bags. Occasionally after prolonged suppression, their anger would erupt in a way that was out of proportion to the triggering event, making them feel guilty and worthless, further lowering self-esteem( this was me too).

    (2) “Pay It Forward” negativly to someone…

    (3) * Value yourself and forgive. Forgive others for not always getting it right. Forgive yourself.

    (4) “Pay It Forward” positivly to someone…

    I liked Deb’s response regards ‘The Lords Prayer’ especially after watching the movie ‘Of Gods And Men’ yesterday with my daughter.

    It’s not just women either.

    “Love” can be suppressed by all.

  4. Dandy,

    As a guy I don’t know if I should leave a comment. I am battling mixed emotions. 🙂 I guess the same rule applies to men as I have seen myself fall victim to some of the very issues that you mentioned. I won’t go into examples because guys aren’t allowed to talk about emotion in public, (It’s a non-spoken rule) but we all let some things in our lives affect our behavior. This was a very insightful post Dandy. Now when are you going to write something for the guys. I am feeling left out. lol!

    • Hi Frank,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ll get to work right away about all that’s wrong with guys. That will be a large volume though, lol. It’s true though, the rules do apply to men as well. We all have the right to express ourselves and work on ourselves, only if it is positive and beneficial. No one likes to be on the recieving end of venting. Men need just as much time for themselves as women do. That’s why I encourage my sweetheart to do the things that feed his soul. It brings him back to me a better man. Thanks so much for your support and humor Frank!

  5. Hi Dandy,

    Very nice post. One thing that I notice all the time about women who have high self esteem is that they love themselves. They don’t take insult from anyone. Respect is huge for them. If someone disrespect them, they know how to respond as they have high confidence in themselves. For sure it is not a good idea to supress emotions. Women with low self esteem should express their emotions and increase their love for themselves. Thanks for sharing Dandy, very informative post

    • Hi Dia! I’m glad you liked this. Everyone has the right to express themselves, but only if it doesn’t harm someone else. By working on our self-esteem we learn to handle our emotions in a positive way that benefits ourselves. By knowing that the root of anger can be low self-esteem, that gives us something we can reach toward and work on. Thanks so much Dia! Take care!

  6. Hi Dandy,

    One thing I get from this is that women and men have a lot more in common than society gives credit to Imperfection is the underlying to us all.

    I can’t speak to much on this one, but I can say that men and women and anger have a lot in common.

    Thanks Dandy!

    • Hi Jk, you are right. My tips apply to men & women. It’s important to encourage people to express their feelings in a way that is positive and life affirming. No one wants to be at the other end of someone who feels the need to vent in an ugly way. Thanks alot Jk! Take care!

  7. Hi Dandy,

    I used to have a lot of pent up anger when I was younger. And like you, I was a compulsive brooder. I used to be so gloomy that a dark cloud seemed to hover over my head wherever I went. As you rightly point out, the best way to deal with anger or any problem is to focus on the solution. When we do so, we can resolve the issue and by eliminating the source of our anger, we create the conditions for happiness in our lives.

    Any anger that we experience in life is a sign that something is not right. Tolerating it does us no good. We either deal with it if we can and resolve the issue or we avoid it completely. This is the best way to live.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article! 🙂

    Irving the Vizier

    • Hi Irving,
      Yep, I totally agree! Stuffing isn’t good neither is expressing our emotions in an ugly, hurtful way. Working on ourselves isn’t easy, but we have to deal with our inner worlds if we are to experience any kind of happiness in our lives. Thanks so much for your insightful comments Irving!

  8. Dandy,
    Anger is a touchy issue.To say that anger is most often experienced by women with low self esteem is to say they “know” something is out of sync with reality. So a feeling of anger might be a signal letting us know we’re not seeing something accurately. It seems like an evolutionary process, doesn’t it? As we are more experienced in life, we tend to obsess less over things that might have bothered us when we were in our teen or young adult years.

    I agree that “There is almost always another feeling behind anger” – what I try to do is discover what is hiding beneath it. Sometimes that is the message I needed to receive.
    Great post Dandy!

    • Hi Lori,
      I really like how you worded it – that something is out of sync. That’s exactly what low self-esteem is. The great news is we can make discoveries into what we need in order to change that. I think you’re right about it being an evelutionary process. I know the things that bothered me just a few years ago no longer have a hold on me now! Thank goodness for that! Thanks alot Lori for your great comments!

  9. The difference between venting and expressing. I never thought of it in those words, but as soon as I read that I totally got it. That was so helpful. I struggle trying to reconcile the idea that we should not deny or stuff our feelings on one hand, and recognizing on the other hand that certain feelings do not feed our spirit. Seeing it as the difference between expressing an honest feeling and feeding that feeling until it consumes me is very helpful. Thank you so much!

    And once again very timely. I’m focusing this month on step 4–feeling our feelings!

    • Hi Galen,
      I’m so glad you found my post helpful. I too believe that expressing our emotions is a good thing. But I’ve learned that venting just to vent is not positive for the person venting & the people who have to experience the ugliness. I love the idea of using an art form or exercise to release emotions! Thanks so much Galen for your great comment!

  10. Great post, Dandy. Oh so very true for me, as well, to ruminate about things when I am angry. It took me a long time (in fact I will always be on the journey) to identify those triggers and find a healthy outlet for them. The triggers may change, depending on my age, emotional situation, physical health, etc.

    Why do you think I started running…..first a little, then A LOT!! But, it grounds me. I love your suggestions and your insight. And thanks for the statement about not sharing emails, and allowing your readers to email you individually. You are truly a wonderful person……
    Keep up the great posts!

    • Hi Jen!
      Thanks so much for that. Running is a great way to get out pent up emotions. It is so healthy to do that. I’m glad you found an outlet that serves you well. Take good care Jen!

  11. In your article, you wrote, “When we have high self-esteem we have fewer anger symptoms and are much less likely to brood about the events that provoke anger.” Reviewing over my journey towards greater self esteem, I find that what you’ve said is true. I get less bothered and irritated by what others say. And if I do, I acknowledge and choose to release these.

    Your post is making me wonder if more women than men have self esteem issues. Your thoughts and findings?

    • Hi Evelyn,
      Thanks for commenting on this post! I don’t think more women than men have self-esteem issues. I think women do have certain pressures that men don’t have. The pressure to be perfect wives, mothers, daughters. The pressure in this day & age to be the breadwinners and look great doing it. Yeah right! We are hard on ourselves. Women need to know that it is ok to be angry once in awhile. It is a perfectly normal emotion. It’s what we choose to do with it that is the most important thing. We deserve to take care of ourselves! Thanks so much for your support and great comments Evelyn!

  12. I’d be honest Dandy, most of those us men need to pay heed tothsi just as much as well. I think we can all fly off the handle in our own way and it seems on the increase as everyone has pent up rage just ready to burst out in the most inappropriate situation i.e. when a store worker makes us wait a few seconds. There’s a lot of hot anger walking around out there because we don’t face ‘in here’ enough. Any one with the wisdom to write posts that gives people the skills and backing to fix their annoyance to turn it into calm acceptance gets my vote so bravo for you for tackling a big issue. Just imagine what a world we would have if we could laugh where we currently shout?

    • Hi John!
      Thanks so much for your great comment. Yes, these tips apply to men as well as women. When we aren’t taught as youngsters how to deal with our anger than we grow up either venting it negativley or stuffing it. Both are unhealthy. I’ve learned that we have to love ourselves enough to deal with the uncomfortable emotions we all have. None of us are perfect. It is ok to be angry. It’s about what we choose to do with it that matters! Thanks again John. You’re wonderful!

  13. Thanks for sharing this, Dandy. Anger is such a powerful emotion that must be addressed if we are to live from our Authentic Nature. We simply cannot be free to express and participate fully in life when anger is smoldering within. If we don’t acknowledge our anger it will fester and cause more harm and suffering than the person or thing we are angry at. We can be guaranteed a lifetime of self-sabotage, and failed dreams if we are ab-reacting angrily through our days.

    • Hi Rob,
      Wow, you stated it perfectly. Yes, it’s true that when anger festers it causes more harm. I believe that depression is supressed anger. It’s tough when we aren’t taught how to deal with this emotion in a healthy way. For me it took therepy. But I find that by expressing my anger through writing or exercising it releases my anger and other emotions i didn’t even know I had. Thanks so much for your wonderful comment Rob. Take good care!

  14. Dandy, I really appreciate this! More than you know. It’s good to know. My wife and I often handle things very differently, and anger is no exception. I know men and women are different in how we process emotions, but with having 3 daughters, I want to do my best in understanding them and where they’re coming from. I will bookmark this and print it out to have around to keep that in mind! Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate it!

    • Hi Bryan!
      I’m so happy this post was helpful to you. I don’t have children, but I certainly remember being one. I remember the frustration of not understanding my anger or what to do with it. I would have loved to have been taught that it is ok to express it through drawing or maybe even dancing. Girls especially need a way to express themselves. Stiffling is awful. Your girls are lucky to have you Bryan!!

  15. Well put Dandy!

    I work with my wife from our home based production company, and what you’re saying rings very true. We have learned to be open about our thoughts and feelings, and also to keep our egos in check.

    Thank you for the insight!!

    • Hi Mike!
      That’s wonderful you & your wife have incorporated honesty & truthfullness into your relationship. It is a great way to be soul centered instead of ego centered. Thanks so much for your comment!! Take care!

  16. Knowing your triggers is key.

    I find that knowing my triggers and knowing my “best practices” for those triggers, helps me ground myself quickly. I also ask myself, “Who do I want to be and what experiences do I want to create?” That helps me find a better path forward.

    • Hi J.D.
      I really like that question you ask yourself. That is so helpful. I’ll be sure to try that. It is a reminder that we can control our thoughts and change our perceptions if we need to. Thanks J.D. Take care!

  17. hello dandy
    how are you?
    although this post focuses on women, i believe the same is true of most men
    the issue of knowing ones trigger is quite helpful because it would help in dealing with how our moods are defined for the day, our frustrations and the feelings of a low sense of self worth.
    you are spot on when it comes to the issue of self esteem and these days men are encouraged to talk about whats going on in their mind rather than keep silent.MIND states that a huge number of men are going through depression and are less likely to discuss their issues with family friends or partners but i believe the trend is changing gradually.
    i guess we need to borrow a leaf from your post here when it comes to dealing with anger
    thanks for sharing this dandy
    take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of the day

    • Hi Ayo!
      You are right. This does indeed apply to men. I hope men talk more about their feelings. So much positive can come from it. We are in a new day and age and it’s time for Moms & Dads to encourage their young sons to talk about their feelings and encourage them to express them in healthy ways. Thanks so much for your smart comment Ayo. You’re the best! You take good care too!

  18. Hi Dandy,

    What a great post. It take something BIG to get me angry. I work really hard to not let things get to me, but there are days when I’ve just had it and just bust. When I get angry I completely shut down.

    Your post has made me think back to the root of why I get angry or why I handle anger the way that I do.

    This my first time on your blog I can’t wait to come back!


    • Hi Chelsea,
      I know what you mean, when I get angry I sometimes shut down too. I’ve learned it’s a defense mechanism. It’s what I do to cope with the chaos of my anger. We are such facinating creatures 🙂 There is always something to learn about ourselves. I’m pleased you like my blog and I do hope to hear from you again!! Take care!

  19. ….By Kristina Randle Ph.D. LCSW…….I tend to have a problem with self esteem I do have self esteem issues and I am also a Student In Training or a S.I.T. It could also explain why if you make a comment that someone doesnt hear you are reluctant to repeat yourself. All of your behavior points to a lack of self-confidence..Sometimes people with low self-esteem feel as though they are not worthy of love or the attention of others.

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