Handling your anger

2011/07/05 in Health

The teen years can be rough. Often you feel stuck somewhere between childhood and adulthood without a clear feeling of who you are and where you belong.


This feeling often has you in conflict with parents and friends. You might be moody or uptight without an apparent reason. We’ll talk about some of the strong feelings you may be having and what problems they can cause if they’re not handled right. We’ll also suggest how you can deal with these feelings.

Basically, emotions are just feelings. There are positive emotions, like love, happiness, and affection — and there are negative emotions, like anger, hate and jealousy. Both types are natural and normal ways to feel in certain Situations. The problem, however, is that most of us don’t know how to best express our strong negative emotions.

If we keep our feelings “bottled up” inside, we can actually hurt ourselves, physically and emotionally. Bottled up emotions can cause real physical pain such as headaches, stomach aches, cramps, rashes, etc. Such pain can really be a problem when you want to have fun with friends or settle down to serious work. It can also lead to more serious medical complications. To keep negative feelings hidden takes a great deal of energy, as well. Such energy is more positively used toward your development as a person.

On the other hand, it can be just as harmful to ourselves and others to lose control over our feelings in a physical or verbal way. For example, throwing things, hitting people, screaming, swearing and name calling are all destructive ways of expressing strong negative feelings.

We’re going to talk about some ways you can deal constructively with feelings like anger, hurt, and jealousy. But it’s going to take work on your part. It is easier to shout and storm out of the room than to sit down with someone and try to talk about your feelings. It’s easier to go on pretending you’re not hurt than it is to talk about it. Easier, maybe, but not better. By talking about your feelings you may open yourself up to more hurt, but that’s the risk you take when you let people know how you feel. Opening up to someone in this way is an important part of having a relationship with them.

The best way to deal with strong negative emotions is to work on changing, or eliminating the situation that causes you to feel them. If you’re upset by something that someone does or says to you, tell that person how you feel. That’s only fair, since he or she may not even realize how their behavior affects you. But don’t blame the other person for what you’re feeling. Let’s say your best friend constantly puts you down when you’re in a group. You might want to say, “You make me feel rotten when you put me down like that.” Instead, describe your feelings by saying, “I feel rotten when I hear you say things like that about me in front of other people.” When you say it this way, you’re not blaming the other person for how you feel, which may make them more willing to listen to you.

It probably won’t be easy for you to talk about your feelings at first, but it’s an important step in learning to deal in a positive way with your negative feelings.

There are several other good ways to express strong negative emotions. These methods won’t get rid of the problem, but they will help you get rid of your pent-up feelings. Physical activity is one very popular way to work off negative feelings. Play tennis, jog, hit a punching bag, dance, or cut the lawn. Do whatever you prefer as long as you work hard and really burn up a lot of energy.

Another thing you can do is to talk about how you feel. “Talking it out” with a friend or an older brother or sister is a healthy way to deal with your emotions. But if you think you’re going to

blow up, first try to get rid of some of your explosive feelings through physical activity. Then hopefully you’ll be ready to come back and Sit down calmly to talk it out with someone.

Maybe running around the block, or talking with a friend isn’t your style. You may feel more comfortable dealing with your emotions by expressing them creatively. If you’re angry and hurt by what someone has said or done, you can write about it in a story or a diary. You can play music, sing, act or dance. These are all constructive and creative ways of examining and expressing your emotions in a safe way.

Try not to get down on yourself over the strong negative feelings you have. For example, you may feel guilty about a blow up at home, or get angry with yourself when your jealousy makes you look foolish. But as we said before, it’s just as normal to have strong negative feelings as it is to have strong positive feelings. To deny that you have them is to deny that you’re human. To feel rotten about having them is a waste of your energy.

We know that the teen years can be pretty rough emotionally because of all the growing up you’re expected to do. It’s a time of great stress and strain. The chemical changes now taking place in your body can make you tense and anxious. Sometimes these chemical changes by themselves will cause you to flare up or experience some strange emotions unexpectedly. If you find yourself moody or tense without any apparent reason, try one of the previously mentioned ways of expressing these feelings before they cause trouble. Be gentle with yourself, the emotions are normal and natural. They may be unpredictable, but with a little effort, you can learn to recognize and control them

We’ve said that it’s unhealthy for you to keep your emotions bottled up inside of you, or to go wild when you do express them. Try to work on the cause of your feelings. If someone is doing or saying things that upset you, try to let them know. Use a statement beginning with “I” that describes how you feel. If that isn’t possible, then talk over your feelings with a friend, or work them off in a physical or creative way. Remember: It’s equally important to accept and express your negative emotions.


For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin