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What are the three Angers?

Anger is a normal and healthy human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, uncontrolled or chronic anger can negatively impact one’s relationships, health, and overall wellbeing. According to psychology, there are three main types of anger: passive anger, aggressive anger, and assertive anger. Understanding the differences between these three angers is important for managing anger in a healthy way.

Passive Anger

Passive anger, also known as suppressed anger, occurs when someone experiences angry feelings but does not express them outwardly. Instead, the anger gets turned inward. People who experience passive anger may bottle up their feelings, avoid conflict or confrontation, and deny that they feel angry at all. Here are some key things to know about passive anger:

Signs of Passive Anger

– Avoiding expressing anger verbally
– Becoming withdrawn or silent
– Sulking or pouting
– Making sarcastic or cutting remarks
– Becoming emotionally closed off
– Holding grudges
– Feeling resentful
– Experiencing physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, tight muscles

Causes of Passive Anger

There are several potential causes of passive anger:

– Fear of conflict or confrontation
– Fear of damaging relationships
– Belief that expressing anger is wrong or inappropriate
– Having been taught as a child to hold anger in
– Feelings of powerlessness or lack of control

People may have learned passive anger behaviors during childhood if they grew up in households where anger was forbidden or punished. Others may fear losing relationship by expressing anger openly. Passive anger sometimes stems from feelings of low self-worth or powerlessness.

Risks of Passive Anger

While suppressing anger may seem like an easier short-term solution, there are risks to this approach:

– Anger gets directed inward and can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues
– Important issues go unaddressed, allowing problems to fester
– Resentment builds over time and damages relationships
– Physical health suffers from chronic stress of unresolved anger

Ultimately, passive anger is not a healthy long-term strategy for managing emotions. The anger does not actually go away when suppressed – it continues to create inner turmoil.

Aggressive Anger

Aggressive anger, also known as explosive anger, refers to expressing anger in an outwardly hostile, confrontational, or violent manner. People experiencing aggressive anger tend to be impulsive and lash out at others or objects around them. Here are some characteristics of aggressive anger:

Signs of Aggressive Anger

– Yelling or screaming
– Making threats, verbal abuse
– Displaying physical violence like hitting, throwing things
– Intimidating or threatening body language like punching walls
– Extreme criticism of others
– Blaming others
– Driving recklessly to take out anger
– Damaging property
– Making unreasonable demands

Causes of Aggressive Anger

Some causes that may contribute to aggressive anger include:

– Impulsiveness and poor self-control
– Learned behavior from growing up around aggression
– Belief that intimidation and confrontation are effective ways to get what you want
– Feelings of powerlessness leading to wanting to gain control through aggression
– Underlying shame, vulnerability, or low self-esteem

Men are more likely to exhibit aggressive anger than women, though it can occur in both genders. Aggressive anger is often learned behavior, either from witnessing it as a child or finding it an effective strategy in certain environments like competitive sports.

Risks of Aggressive Anger

Explosive anger has serious repercussions:

– Damages relationships with family, friends, and colleagues
– Can cause mental and physical harm to others if violent
– Often leads to legal and professional problems
– Worsens pre-existing health conditions
– Ruins one’s reputation and relationships over time

Aggressive anger rarely resolves the situation and instead escalates problems and tensions. It also puts strain on the cardiovascular system and is linked to higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. Getting anger under control should be a priority for anyone exhibiting aggressive outbursts.

Assertive Anger

Assertive anger involves expressing anger in a direct but non-aggressive way. The goal is to clearly communicate one’s feelings and needs without attacking others. Here are features of assertive anger:

Signs of Assertive Anger

– Using “I” statements to express anger calmly
– Avoiding insults, threats, and aggression
– Expressing anger soon after the triggering event
– Describing the behaviors that need to change, not criticizing the person
– Listening and being open to others’ perspectives
– Seeking solutions, not just venting anger
– Taking time to cool off if needed before addressing issue

Benefits of Assertive Anger

Handled appropriately, anger can:

– Help identify issues that need to be addressed
– Motivate positive change
– Lead to greater mutual understanding in relationships
– Reduce built-up resentment over time
– Improve physical health when anger gets expressed, not bottled up

By expressing anger assertively, it becomes a tool for bettering oneself and relationships with others. Change becomes more likely when anger gets communicated in a thoughtful, fair way.

Developing Assertive Anger Skills

Here are some tips for communicating anger more assertively:

– Take time to calm down before addressing the issue
– Use “I feel…” statements to share your emotions
– Focus the conversation on the other person’s behavior, not their character
– Set boundaries and be specific about the change you need
– Avoid hurtful language like insults or exaggerations
– Be open and listen to the other perspective
– Express appreciation when the other person makes efforts to improve

Learning to respond versus react takes time. But with practice, assertive anger skills can greatly improve anger management and conflict resolution.


Anger is a normal part of the human emotional experience. However, excessive anger that is expressed passively or aggressively can damage mental health, relationships, and quality of life. Learning to communicate anger assertively by expressing emotion in a non-confrontational way allows anger to become a constructive force for positive change. With self-awareness and practice, individuals can identify their anger triggers and patterns. This makes it possible to stop aggressive or passive anger habits, and develop healthier, more assertive anger skills over time.

Type of Anger Passive Anger Aggressive Anger Assertive Anger
Definition Suppressing angry feelings and not expressing them Expressing anger in an outwardly hostile, abusive, or violent manner Expressing anger calmly without aggression or passive-aggression
Signs Withdrawing, sulking, making sarcastic remarks, avoiding conflict, holding grudges Yelling, threatening, intimidating or violent behavior, blaming others Using “I feel…” statements, focusing on behaviors not character, listening to others’ perspective
Causes Fear of confrontation, belief anger is inappropriate, low self-worth Poor self-control, learned aggressive behavior, desire for control Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, good communication skills
Risks Depression, anxiety, physical health issues, damaged relationships Harming others, legal issues, heart problems, ruined reputation Some short-term discomfort or tension while issues get resolved

Anger can be an incredibly destructive emotion when expressed passively or aggressively over time. However, assertive anger communication provides a healthy outlet for anger to facilitate positive change. With self-awareness and practice, individuals can better control their anger responses. This allows anger to become a useful tool for setting boundaries, motivating improvement, and strengthening relationships.