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Dysfunction Interrupted-5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You are Chronically Angry

Everywhere we look these days the world is full of anger. All we have to do is plug in each morning and there is a barrage of anger entering our space from whatever technology we choose. Personally, I am tired of it, anger is exhausting and excessive anger does not solve issues.

Professionally, when working with angry clients I always ask them to dig deep, and almost without fail there is something lurking in their past that is still wreaking havoc with their emotional world, to their detriment as well as those around them.

Typically someone who is chronically angry is aware that they are angry but may not know why. There are those who don’t realize that they are chronically angry and engage in road rage, sarcasm, put-downs and scoffing at others or the world in general. Continuously focusing on politics and what is wrong with the world can mask chronic anger as good citizenship.

Anger is not only toxic to the person who is angry but to everyone around them. This anger may begin in childhood and build, a response to helplessness, abuse, being insulted  or bullied in some way or maybe even a response to other bad things that occurred like the loss of a parent. Individuals with dysfunctional families or backgrounds are often chronically angry. With no real target or solution to the problem, the anger just comes out everywhere.

When you combine anger with anxiety and fear, you come out with a person who may become a bully themselves. They fear venting their anger where it belongs, and instead take it out on a more vulnerable target. It is not unusual for them to enter every situation expecting the worst or at least a confrontation from someone. They may relish entering into debates as a way to release some of the pent up anger.

Chronic anger is no fun to be around and often the angry person finds themselves left out of social gatherings and with few friends. This compounds the angry feelings, creating a downward spiral.

One very good reason to eliminate chronic anger from your life is that studies show it to be the unhealthiest emotion, releasing hormones or chemicals into the bloodstream that are considered “sticky”. Those “sticky” chemicals like to adhere to your arteries, making it more likely to develop a blockage resulting in heart disease or stroke. Anger blocks the ability to fully connect with others or to enjoy healthy relationships. Chronic anger typically blocks any ability to experience joy.

If you are reading this and aren’t sure if this is you, ask someone close to you and be ready for the response. Don’t kill the messenger, but rather hear them out and be ready to move forward with eliminating this nasty emotion.

So how do you go about eliminating unnecessary and unwanted anger?

Understand it’s roots. Do some honest soul searching here and identify why you are angry. Do you feel you were treated unfairly? That you are a good person and something or someone bad happened to you and it wasn’t fair? Are you constantly retaliating for something that happened in the past? Until you understand where it is coming from you will not be able to stop its flow.

  1. Are you depressed? This is the first question to ask yourself. Men who are grieving or depressed are especially prone to expressing their grief in anger. Both genders tend to exhibit some level of agitation and irritation when depressed, it may actually be the first warning sign that you are headed in that direction.
  2. Do you feel bad about yourself? It is not at all unusual to find low self esteem to be a culprit in chronic anger. If you have been unfairly attacked or ridiculed as a child or an adult, your subconscious mind may be trying to exact revenge by lashing out. If this is the case, work on your self esteem, not alienating everyone around you. There are many wonderful self-help resources, coaches and therapists who successfully solve self esteem issues every day.
  3. Are you jealous? Jealousy is a very negative emotion and can cause huge emotional upset. It is not called the “green eyed monster” for nothing. Maybe you have a graduate degree but will never be wealthy but you see a classmate who is very financially successful?  Maybe your neighbors have more material things than you or a nicer home, sparking resentment every time you drive by and think about how unfair the world is. Maybe you were passed up for a promotion or tossed aside in a relationship for someone else. This one event may be consuming your life and you may need assistance in how to let it go. It is normal to feel some jealousy but not to let it consume you.
  4. Do you feel out of control of your life? If you are overwhelmed on a regular basis, suffering from anxiety or feeling out of control it can make you feel angry. You may actually be on the verge of a depression as mentioned earlier. If you are in a unhealthy relationship with someone who makes you feel badly on a daily basis you may also feel angry but not be able to express it where it belongs out of fear. If you are being emotionally or otherwise abused you will be angry. You should be angry, but the key is to gain control by having a plan to move away from this negativity.
  5. Are you engaging in a dysfunctional thinking pattern that lends itself to anger? To determine if this is the case please download my 12 Dysfunctional Thinking Patterns info and checklist. You may find that it is not the events around you but how you are perceiving them that is causing your day to day anger.

In practice, I have found that my most unhappy clients were those who were chronically angry. They suffer needlessly every day as they approach the world and everyone and everything in it as the enemy, when typically the enemy is existing right in their head. They are cheated out of an enjoyable life with caring friends and family.

Dysfunction Interrupted-5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You are Chronically Angry

Audrey Sherman, Ph.D.

Dr. Audrey Sherman is a licensed psychologist, coach and the author of the book Dysfunction Interrupted-How to Quickly Overcome Depression, Anxiety and Anger Starting Now. Her expertise is in defining, describing and transforming dysfunctional behavior and thought patterns learned in childhood or beyond that keep you anxious, depressed, angry, stuck in unhappy and unproductive relationships, jobs and more. Dr. Sherman developed the Dysfunctional Patterns Quiz and other free resources to help you determine the effects of these on your life. She works with individuals, conducts live and online workshops and trains others in her programs. To learn more about Dr. Sherman, you can visit her website.

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APA Reference
Sherman, A. (2018). Dysfunction Interrupted-5 Questions to Ask Yourself if You are Chronically Angry. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Oct 2018
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