How to Channel Anger Constructively

November 15, 2016 Silke Morin


Learn to channel your anger constructively so you can avoid destroying your relationships and your mental health. Here's how to constructively channel anger.

Anger is an unavoidable, normal part of the human experience; learning to channel anger constructively is a process. Undoubtedly, you will get mad many times over the course of your lifetime. But you can channel your anger constructively and bring about meaningful change in upsetting situations.

Constructively Channeling Anger Avoids Bigger Problems

You may get angry at your spouse for not pitching in more around the house, angry at your children for not listening the first (or 10th) time you asked them to do something, angry at your boss for not giving you credit for a job well done, angry at a stranger for cutting you off in traffic, or angry at “the system” for a myriad of reasons.

In general, psychologists recognize anger as a normal response when someone perceives a threat or feels their ability to get what they want is being blocked. Thus, anger can be a healthy reaction in many circumstances.

What can be unhealthy, and what can prevent you from cultivating bliss, is what you do with that anger, how you express it when the feeling arises. Do you give your spouse the silent treatment, yell at your children, bad mouth your boss to colleagues, shoot the finger at that stranger in traffic, or rant on social media about the government?

If these are your response patterns, what is their point? True, they may make you feel better in the short term (like the next two minutes), but, in the long run, do you honestly think responses like that effect any real change? And, that is the goal of resolving anger, isn’t it, to change what you’re experiencing and make it better?

How to Constructively Channel Your Anger

If you want something productive to come out of it, learn to channel your anger constructively.

  • Acknowledge your anger. Recognize the triggers that make you defensive. When you first start to feel yourself bristle at something someone says or does, stop and acknowledge what you’re feeling. Notice where in your body you are having a physical response.
  • Think it through. Unless your personal safety is at risk, it’s unlikely that whatever happened to you merits a response of lashing out. Stop and think through if your reaction is appropriate given the insult you suffered. Stop and think through what will happen if you choose to react the way you want to react. Will your response exacerbate the problem or resolve it?
  • Relax and reset. Once you’ve acknowledged your anger and thought through what will happen if you respond a certain way, you are ready to relax and reset your frame of mind. Breathe deeply, repeat a mantra, or take a self-imposed timeout. Do what you can to calm yourself and stay rational. You will not make a good decision if you are in an irrational mindset.
  • Do something. It’s okay to get angry, but channel anger constructively. If you find yourself getting angry with your partner over a recurring issue, try reading a book or talking with a counselor to learn about how to best address and deal with the specific problem. If you get angry when you see trash in your local park, organize a clean-up day in your community. If you experience road rage, try driving with the mindset that you will be the most courteous driver on the road.

Get Angry but Channel It Constructively

The goal of resolving anger is not to repress or deny it. Acknowledge the anger, think through your possible responses, relax and reset your frame of mind, and then do something about it. Learn to channel anger constructively and make positive change happen.

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Image from flickr user 2il org.

APA Reference
Morin, S. (2016, November 15). How to Channel Anger Constructively, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 15 from

Author: Silke Morin

Silke Morin is a scientist, educator, and writer in Austin, Texas. Striving to live a contemplative life, marked by kindness, compassion, and joy, Silke is the author of Find Silke on Twitter, Google+, and Twitter.

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