Anger is a state of arousal in response to an expectation of frustration, or of an obstacle to where you want to go or what you want to do. The dictionary defines it as: a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. It is a natural emotion. But it is not perceived as positive. Many people grow up in families where the expression of anger is clearly discouraged and labeled as bad. What is important is b being able to differentiate between the experience of anger and the form it takes in expression.

When one shows anger by physical violence, by throwing things or verbal abuse, it becomes destructive. From very early on, it is important to teach kids to express their anger in acceptable ways and to understand that it is ok to be angry but not to act in abusive ways towards other people. There is a whole area of self-help books and courses on anger management because the expression can indeed be productive. In a relationship, there will always be conflicts. It is through discussion of such issues that we can grow, evolve, and strengthen the connection.

Perhaps the one skill one can practice when angry is to acknowledge the emotion and defer the discussion to a later time when the emotion is not overriding rational interaction. It is also helpful to take deep breaths to bring the arousal to an acceptable level so the issue can be addressed.

Then there is the matter of how some people hold on to anger for long periods of time. Besides the fact that this stored emotion affects us physically, it also poisons the relationship. No one likes to hear, over and over, all the behaviors that were upsetting the partner. That kind of stored emotion causes illnesses which really is how our body complains to us. Migraines? Ulcers? Plain headaches?  Rashes? Stomach upsets? All can result from holding on to and not expressing anger. Simple question: What do I get from hanging on to this feeling?

In the wisdom of Buddha: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

Author Profile

Janan Broadbent, PhD
Janan Broadbent, PhD
As a psychologist in private practice since 1979, Janan Broadbent, Ph. D. offers individual, couples, group and family therapy, in addition to conducting workshops on topics such as stress management, communication skills and assertiveness. She writes about current issues relevant to relationship building and conflict resolution in LGBTQ and minority populations, with emphasis on health, fitness and education.

Born in Turkey, Dr. Broadbent earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1965. At that time, first as a Fulbright Scholar, then as a CENTO Fellow, she received her master's and doctorate degrees in psychology and education from the University of California at Los Angeles. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in psychology at St.Mary's College of Maryland, Mt. Vernon College in Washington, D. C., Johns Hopkins University and the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore. From 1981 to 1988, she was also the Director of Counseling at Notre Dame College.
While in graduate school, Dr. Broadbent worked for the Voice of America radio program, writing and recording materials on the cross-cultural college experience. She has been interviewed on various news programs on TV and has received media training.
Dr. Broadbent is a member of the American Psychological Association and has served as the chair for the Public Affairs Board and as a member of the Executive Council of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Broadbent's office is located at:
Village of Cross Keys, 120 West Quadrangle, 2 Hamill Road, Baltimore, Maryland 21210-1847 phone: 410-825-5577