PBS Kids GO! It's My Life
Dealing With Anger: Keeping It In

Have you ever gotten really mad about something, but kept your feelings bottled up inside? Maybe you weren't sure how to deal with your anger, or you didn't want to "rock the boat." Maybe you didn't feel like you had a right to be angry in the first place.

Keeping anger inside usually just makes it worse, and when people do it over and over again, for long periods of time, there can be very serious results. For example:

Hurting ourselves emotionally and physically
Sometimes, instead of pointing our anger at another person, we point it at ourselves. A guy who's mad all the time might convince himself that he's worthless, or a loser, or that he doesn't deserve to be happy. Of course, telling himself all these things might just make the feelings of anger more intense. Sometimes these feelings are so painful that a person believes that hurting himself physically is the only way to get all the anger out.

Withdrawing from life
Being angry can make it hard to be around other people. If someone's angry, she might pull away from friends or family members and start spending a lot of time alone. Being alone isn't a bad thing, but if she never works through her anger, and if the anger keeps her from leading a complete life, she has a problem that needs to be dealt with.

Taking risks
People with a lot of rage inside them can sometimes do crazy, dangerous things. They might try to start fights they have no hope of winning, or go places that aren't safe. The pumped-up feeling of being mad might make someone think that he or she can't be seriously hurt in these situations-which of course isn't true.

Overeating
Many experts believe that people sometimes eat too much because they're trying to fill some emotional need. If you find yourself pushing feelings of anger inside and then eating lots of food or snacks to feel better, it's a sign that you need a better way to cope with your anger.

Using alcohol or drugs
Many people think that numbing their minds with drugs or alcohol will "quiet" the anger inside of them. This never works, because alcohol and drugs come with many problems of their own, and can often make people even angrier. Using drugs and alcohol to control emotions is just a way to avoid the problem, not face up to it.

People who try to ignore their anger and keep it all bottled up might develop other problems, including:

  • Developing a negative attitude about everything
  • Having trouble making and keeping friends
  • Developing physical pain or illness related to stress

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