While we all have different emotional reactions, most people resort to the following three types of anger when under distress:
When you think about “classic” anger, aggressive anger is likely what comes to mind. People with aggressive anger tend to be hostile, abrasive, and blaming when they get mad. Sometimes, their anger feels explosive- one moment, they might be happy and laidback, and the next, they seem like they’re completely raging.
People with aggressive anger may also use emotional abuse tactics, such as insults or threats. In other cases, they may resort to violence (either towards themselves or others) as a form of control.
Have you ever been told, “I’m fine,” when it was apparent the other person was anything but fine? If so, you’ve been a recipient of passive anger!
Passive anger tends to feel more indirect–people may use the silent treatment, gaslighting, or other forms of “pretending they’re not angry” to get their feelings across. They may also conceal their actual feelings, but instead gossip or spread rumors to seek revenge.
Assertive anger is the healthiest expression of anger. When someone is assertive, they can communicate their needs and feelings concisely. For example, they may use I-statements like, “I felt angry when you didn’t call after you promised you would.”
Someone who practices assertive anger can assume responsibility for both their feelings and their reactions. If they ever resort to aggressive or passive anger, they quickly recognize this behavior and make a concerted effort to stop it immediately.
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