Anger: One Letter Short Of Danger!

This morning I woke up angry; I felt angsty and icky. I couldn’t quite put my finger as to why I might be angry, but all I know is that I felt it deeply in my core. I wanted to scream, start a fight, blame someone or get in my car and rage.

The anger was like a dark cloud dousing my light and swirling in turmoil inside me. It was festering and I felt like there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t see clearly, I couldn’t tap into my loving, I couldn’t see the good in anything in that moment.

I knew I needed to do something about what I was feeling, so instead of stewing in it or ignoring it, I put on my running shoes, popped in my headphones with my favorite playlist and took my pooch out for a long walk.

As I was walking and listening to music, I could feel the anger rising up in me. It was strong, it wanted to release, it wanted me to know it was there.

There was no way I could avoid it. It was that proverbial monkey on my back. I started to move my body, knowing that if I didn’t get the anger up and out that it would fester and wreak havoc on my emotional state. I cursed obscenities in my head, pretended that I was hitting a punching bag and as I walked, I pumped my arms and sang out loud.

It took about an hour, but all of the sudden on my walk back home, I noticed that my state had shifted. I noticed that I didn’t have the dark cloud swirling inside me anymore. I felt clear and the monkey was gone.

In many 12-step programs, they tell us anger is one letter short of danger, and I believe this to be true in many cases, especially if we do not know how to release or channel our anger.

Anger left unattended can be dangerous. It can lead us to hurt and even fatally harm others, blame others, and lash out if we do not know what to do with it.

As a young child, I was exposed to my father’s raging fury on a daily basis. Being in the center of this taught me to stuff my anger down because I knew firsthand how much his anger hurt me and my family. He didn’t know what to do with all the feelings he was having, so he’d drink to numb out and then unleash all those feelings on his family through physical violence and emotional abuse. Anger – one letter short of danger.

Through many years of self-inquiry along my spiritual journey, which entailed looking deeply into my past to heal the hurts I have experienced in my life, anger was an emotion that I was always afraid of. I shied away from feeling it. I thought it was bad. I thought it would engulf me if I let it come to the surface. I thought no one would love me if I showed anger. I didn’t want to be like my father, so I did everything in my power to not be, which meant not expressing anger. And because I shoved it down and avoided it, what happened is, it just came out sideways, in the form of sarcasm, judgments of myself and others and looking down on people. It also manifested in my body as illness and strong feelings of sadness.

It wasn’t until these past two years that I really got in touch with my anger, and that was because there was a person in my life who triggered all of it. This person was in service to me and helped me really get in touch with these deep dark parts of myself that I was afraid of. It was extremely painful, but it taught me that I don’t need to be afraid to feel angry and that if I know how to channel it, it can be of great service to me.

Anger needs to be released, it needs to be attended to in a resourceful and meaningful way. Often anger can show up to give us a message, or to let us know that we have been numbing out or avoiding ourselves and our feelings for too long. Anger is usually just a cover up for deep hurt.

Maybe we heard something in the news that made us angry, and we chose not to look at it in that moment. Maybe someone said something that sparked some hurt in us, and we chose not to speak up or we took it on as the truth. Maybe we had a dream that we awoke from feeling angry.

Whatever it is, anger will show up at the oddest times and when it does, I encourage you to acknowledge its presence and take a positive action to move through it without hurting anyone along the way.

Some ways that I do this is to move my body, as I mentioned above. Just the mere act of movement can release stored up emotions and help them to rise to the surface for tending. Sometimes I beat the heck out of my pillows, and although I feel silly doing it, boy do I feel good after. Sometimes I end up in a ball on the floor laughing. Sometimes what happens is a deep, deep hurt that was under all that anger comes to the surface and I get to flood myself with compassion and loving.

If you know you have anger and have been avoiding it, I encourage you to get it out and let it out using any of the techniques I mentioned above or find what works for you, as long as you do it safely. We do not want to hurt anyone and even ourselves with our anger, and know that it’s ok to feel it. It’s an emotion that can help take us to the deepest most loving parts of ourselves we may have been avoiding.

Loving you AND your anger!

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Melissa is personal chef, wellness coach and nutrition educator. Check out her website here.


  • Guest

    Thank you SOOOOO much for this post! I can’t tell you how much it has spoken to me and exactly what I’m going through. 

    Recently I’ve had so much anger coming up in a new relationship that I’m in, and it’s been so completely uncharacteristic of me that I wondered if it was all HIS fault. Even before reading your post I started to connect the dots between some issues in the relationship that I kept glossing over and superficially addressing (but kept rearing their head) and my angry outbursts. I had been trying to figure out a way to disperse my anger in a non-confrontational way that actually allowed me to feel better and work through the issue. I’m going to put your suggestions into practice today!Thank you for being vulnerable and in turn, helping me work through this issue.

  • Pola

    Dear Ms Costello
    OMG! are you talking about ME?! It sent a chill down my spine!!! I am very grateful for your article. It is not too late for me to learn and transform myself.I need to read  your words  again and again…..
    Love and appreciate YOU.

  • Rachfink

    Beautiful article! I know your willingness to share in this way will support so many others on their journey, me included. Love!

  • This post resonnated with me too.  My whole life I’ve felt like I couldn’t express my true feelings.  I’m not sure exactly where it started, or why I felt this way, but I have theories.  Don’t we all?  I was VERY shy as a child, and I don’t consider myself shy anymore, but I AM introverted and quiet by nature.  So perhaps that’s why I struggle with expressing anger or other strong emotions.  People don’t expect it from me.  I’m the “quiet, nice girl.”  I always have been, and I’m just FINALLY learning how to step outside of that box, at age 35.  Still, it’s a challenge. 

    When I do get angry I tend to keep it in until I’m alone and then let it out via throwing stuff (like shoes) against my bedroom walls or against the fence in my backyard (I discovered that scrap pieces of wood make great, loud pops when they clash against the wooden fence…that helps.).  😉   Moving also helps me too.  

    Thanks for this post.  It’s nice to know I’m not alone in learning how to deal with and express anger when it arises.  🙂  Sometimes I wish I was the type of person who just let it out, right at the moment.  Didn’t care what people thought.  Of course that’s not always the best thing to do.  But I’m trying to find a balance.  Holding it in until I’m alone and NOT telling those that elicited the anger isn’t always good either. 

    Here’s to learning and growing in this life.  🙂


  • trana

    I am so glad you wrote this because it seems no one wants to say I have anger problems.  I guess if you admit it then that says you need to work on it.   It makes you dig deep into your past where you may not want to go.  I have been an angry person and still need to find out where is is coming from.  Yes, I had an alcoholic father and my mother was controlling, but it seems there is something still there wanting to be released and I need to find out what it is so I can have peace.    I so much want to have peace in my mind, and I hate that I take my anger out on my children and my husband who are so perfect and innocent.  I relate to everyone’s comments and feel good knowing I’m not alone.  To anyone reading this looking to find help, I have started doing alternative healing.  Instead of going to a therapist I’ve done energy healing.  This can be in many forms, but I encourage everyone to do some research to find what resonates with you.  

  • Maggie

    Thank you for sharing this!  My childhood was very similar, and I struggle with constructive ways to deal with my anger as well.  I am known (but not loved) for my biting wit, and I am trying to soften my edges so that I do not hurt the people I care about the most.

  • Ashley

    This corresponds perfectly to something I was discussing the other day… My father was abusive and it seemed anger was the only emotion he knew and could express, so now I’m terrified to feel it, and when it does seep to the surface it is overwhelming and just inspires more fear – a vicious cycle started in childhood. Thank you so much for this blog and for giving me inspiration on how to stop that cycle. By sharing this, you have helped me so much. You are a blessing.

  • Kml1957

    Thank you for  your insight.  I have never thought of myself as an angry person, but lately it is hard to ignore.  I am starting to think it is affecting many areas of my life. 

    I like how you speak about your anger kindly, and accept it as something apart from you.

    I’ll be watching for my next step.  I hope to say bring it on and mean it soon!

    Thanks again for sharing your story.


  • Resurrected

    What you say has hit the nail square on the head in a single “blow”. I can say from admitting from personal experience when you have stress from exterior issues and I’m not talking about relationships it affects the latter and everything good in your world and the resonating energy you are putting out is easily seen by others even those not in tune spiritually themselves. It is a soul destroying force that can destroy permanent any relationship or views a person has of you. Luckily during my hard times due to many deaths around me which naturally upsets one when it’s so close to home that it only by a shining beacon of light from a person I did not expect it from to my surprise. The compassion re-booted my brain and from the positive energy of that person’s faith has spurred me into action. I now do exactly similar and multiple things to allay what is nothing short of self soul destroying.

    It feels good to be back one step/day at a time and for that I am forever in debt to all of the writer’s and blogger’s on this site becaus ewithout you I doubt I would get motivated.

    I love all who bring the best out of us all.