angry woman standing with arms crossed, representing stages of anger online

What Are The Stages Of Anger? 

Psychologists do not agree about how many stages of anger there are. Some say 3, some 4, and others 5 to 6. This is because we all build anger in different ways. It is important not to generalize and to know how many stages of anger you experience personally. 

Here is an example: 

Let’s imagine that we can measure your level of anger on a scale of 0% to 100%. And let’s assume that you are the type of person who loses control of your behavior at 80% anger, goes from 0 to 50% anger really slowly and then past the 50% mark, you go to 80% in a few seconds. In this case, you may go through 4 or 5 stages before you reach 50% and then one stage from 50% to 80%. 

On the other hand, if you are the type of person who goes from 0 to 20% rapidly, you may have 1 stage at that level. If after 20% anger you go straight to 100%, you will technically have only 2 stages in total.  

As you can see, we are all different. So, you must focus on how many stages you go through personally before you lose control of your behavior. 

Why Am I Always So Angry? 

Imagine that you have a backpack on your shoulders and in it, you put two things: One, all of the great things you have experienced in life, the love, the beautiful memories, and the kind words from others. These things have no weight and no volume so you can fill up your backpack through time and it will never be heavy or full. And two, in that backpack you also carry all of the negative things that you lived during childhood as well as all the negative experiences from your adult life. And those things have weight and volume, so the more you have of those things in your backpack, the heavier you feel. 

The problem with this backpack is that you carry it around with you at all times.  So, when you get angry in the present moment, even for something minor, that anger will be stored in the same place as the old anger and you will have difficulty in separating them. Because your backpack is heavy, you will want to unload it whenever you have a chance. 

This is why it is important to sort through all of the old hurts and resolve them internally… so that you can travel lighter and not express anger in places where it does not belong. This is one of the things I help my therapy clients do during Emotional Intelligence Coaching sessions.  

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How Do I Know If My Anger Is A Problem? 

There are several things that may suggest that anger is a problem in your life: 

1. When it is too frequent

2. When it is too intense

3. When it lasts too long 

4. When it leads to aggression

5. When it destroys school, work or personal relationships 

If you recognize any of these issues, it may be a good idea to consult with an Emotional Intelligence specialist.  

Are There Skills That I Can Practice To Stop Being Angry? 

I do not think that you can stop being angry all together. Anger is an instinct and it is part of life. We can certainly reduce it by avoiding situations that make us constantly angry, resolving old anger that we may be hanging on to, and learning to manage anger early so that it does not grow. 

If you want to become skilled at managing anger, rather than blocking it, you need to:

  1. Recognize it
  2. Accept it

Recognizing helps you be a step closer to managing it. If you do not recognize it, you could find yourself acting it out without realizing what is going on. 

Some people are skilled at recognizing anger but they may not accept it. Not accepting it sometimes has to do with role modeling during childhood. For example, if you have had a parent that could not manage their anger you may not accept yours because you may have learned that anger is dangerous and scary.  

When you learn to recognize and accept your own anger, you are one step closer to managing it effectively. Anger then becomes a tool rather than a burden. 

Can I Repair Relationships That My Anger Damaged? 

I would like to tell you that you can, but in reality, that depends on the other person and on how the anger manifested in your relationships. There are outbursts of anger that hurt others deeply. These individuals may not be able or willing to let it go. And even if they do, they may not want to trust you again.  

On the other hand, there is hope. You cannot erase the past but you can often make it better. The first step in repairing relationships is to take responsibility and mean it. Ultimately, by taking responsibility for your actions the other person may realize that you cared, which may be healing for them and may encourage them to trust you again. What is important, though, is that you learn to manage your anger so that you do not repeat the same mistakes of the past.  

If you find that your anger is causing a wedge between you and your most important relationships, it may be helpful to read: Anger in Relationships.

How Do I Forgive Myself For Being So Angry, Ruining Relationships, Or Cutting  Other People Out? 

If you cannot forgive yourself for hurting relationships, know that we all struggle with something within. Life is a learning process. While you work on your anger, someone else is working on their fear, jealousy, or sadness. No one I know has had a life without lessons. So if you accept yours, you will be more humble and willing to take responsibility. Learn about your anger and befriend it. Anger is a fantastic emotion, an instinct full of information. If you learn about your anger and acquire some tools to manage it, you can begin feeling less guilty, lighter, and more in control of your life. 

– Dr. Georgiana S., Ph.D., LMFT

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Therapy Questions, Answered.

Our expert therapists have generously created an entire library of articles, activities, and podcasts to support you on your journey of growth. Please visit our “Happiness Collections” to browse our content collections, and take advantage of all the free resources we have for you. Or, if you’d like to educate yourself about the process and logistics of therapy, please help yourself to our “therapy questions” knowledge base below. It’s all for you!

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How to prepare for your first therapy appointment, and learn what to expect in therapy sessions.

What’s the difference between coaching and therapy? Find out which approach is right for you.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the “gold-standard” of effective, evidence-based therapy. Learn about CBT.

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