Kim was a busy mom with two kids and a high stress job as a nurse. She was prone to angry outbursts at home. Her husband and kids often avoided her when she was in one of her “moods.” The problem was Kim was always angry. She said it was simply because her job required so much time and energy.
It wasn’t until her husband demanded she get help that Kim realized she had a problem. She was blaming her job in an effort to cover up the fact that she had a serious anger issue.
Like Kim, you might have an anger problem and not even realize it. Past trauma can get stuck in our body as unprocessed anger. Take a look and see if any of these signs resonate for you.
Here are a few warning signs that you’re secretly angry…
Sign #1: You’re Passive Aggressive
Passive aggressiveness is a front for anger because it allows you to express your displeasure without coming out and directly saying it or confronting the person you’re angry with. An example of being passive aggressive is when someone asks you if your coworker is running late, and you say “When isn’t she running late?”
Another way to be passive aggressive is to agree to do things on the surface then attempt to quietly sabotage them later on. You might do this by failing to cooperate with others who need your insight. Another way to be passive aggressive is to offer to help on a project then make intentional mistakes when you do help.
Often, passive aggressiveness stems from resentment. You might feel like you have to be a good person, and that means you can’t say no to your mother-in-law. Or you might feel like you can’t say no to your boss because you need your job too much. These kinds of thoughts lead you to behave in ways that make it obvious you’re not really happy with the other person or the situation.
Being passive aggressive is a learned behavior. If you find yourself being this way, it could be that you were not allowed to express anger as a child. Somewhere along the line your body learned that this was a safe coping behavior.
Sign #2: Everything is An Attack
Another sign that you’re dealing with anger issues is that you have a tendency to think everything others say or do is a direct attack on you. For example, you’re loading the dishwasher and your partner comes in to ask why you’re loading it that way.
Rather than ask for clarification about the question, you immediately fly into a rage and tell your partner that if they could do it better, they should do it themselves.
Often when you view everything as an attack, you don’t take the time to analyze someone’s tone or body language. Instead, you immediately jump to the defensive and assume they were thinking the worst of you.
It’s important to remember that most people are not attempting to make you feel bad or shamed when they ask a question or make a statement. Many times, those around you are genuinely curious or just want to offer their advice. They don’t have an ill intent, but when you get angry, they also jump to the defensive. This can create conflict and stress in your relationship and business.
Sign #3: You’re Always Focused On “Should”
Often, those who have anger issues spend a lot of time living in the land of “should.” Beliefs like you should have gotten that promotion. You should have had a better childhood. Or the idea that you should have had perfect health.
Another common version of “should” is the “if only” trap. If only your mother hadn’t been an alcoholic, you wouldn’t be so angry. When your boss recognizes your hard work, you won’t be so miserable at your job. If only the doctor could help you, you would be perfectly healthy.
Focusing on the things you should’ve had or the “if only” in your life will make you downright miserable. Not only that, but this kind of mindset fosters feelings of anger, resentment, and bitterness. You can’t focus on the good things in your life because you’re so busy looking at what you lack.
Shoulding is shaming. Shaming is a trauma response. Trauma creates nervous system dysregulation.
Sign #4: You’re Depressed
For some people, depression is due to a chemical imbalance within the brain. This is an important medical problem that needs to be addressed so that you can receive treatment. However, for some people, depression can be a symptom of anger.
You might be surprised to learn that repressed anger often shows up later in your life as depression. For example, if you had a bad childhood and tell yourself you’ve let it go, but you develop depression later in life. This might be a sign that you have repressed anger.
The thing about repressed anger as depression is that it’s not something you can self-diagnose. Get the support you need to help you through this.
Sign #5: Others Are Afraid to Talk to You
Another sign that you might have anger issues is that others are afraid to talk to you about important issues that affect your work or home life. For example, coworkers hesitate to ask you for help or favors because you have such a surly demeanor.
But this can also affect your relationships outside of work. Your spouse might comment on your angry attitude, and your children might go out of their way to avoid you. This can create an environment where those around you feel as if they’re walking on eggshells and one wrong move might send you into a rage.
No one feels safe in this situation. Creating a space that feels safe with a coach support person can help rewire this pattern.
Sign #6: Little Things Send You into a Tailspin
Everyone encounters little annoyances each day. You get cut off in traffic. There is a long line at the grocery store.. You spilled a coffee on yourself. Many of these are minor day-to-day irritations.
When you encounter them, you feel angry or annoyed for a little while. The feeling doesn’t linger for long and you don’t find yourself repeatedly dwelling on it.
But if you routinely notice that small things send you into a tailspin, it might be time to evaluate whether you’re dealing with chronic anger. This chronic anger isn’t good for you mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Using EFT tapping to help create a regulated nervous system will make a world of difference.
Sign #7: You Can Carry a Grudge the Longest
A friend upsets you. She already knows that no matter how many times she apologizes, you’re going to nurse that grudge. Your partner says something unsupportive. He already knows that no matter what he says, you’re going to bring it up in every argument in the future.
If you were hurt by someone else’s actions, it’s natural to feel frustrated, hurt, or even angry. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re known among your friends and family as the one that can carry a grudge for the longest time, then perhaps you have an anger issue.
The problem isn’t the anger. It’s that you can’t forgive someone for making a mistake or saying a hurtful comment. Instead, you carry around the moment and use it for ammunition every chance you get.
Creating space for forgiveness is one of the most powerful opportunities for healing.
You Don’t Have to Be Angry Anymore
Maybe you recognize some of these signs in yourself. Perhaps you are the one who lets little things send you into a tailspin or you rely too much on passive aggressiveness to navigate your relationships. Whatever the case, you don’t have to live this way anymore. You don’t have to walk around carrying all this anger and hurt in your heart. It’s exhausting and keeps you from living your best life.