Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Anger

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Anger

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Japan

Anger, though a basic emotion, is an important and complex one with multiple stages. Anger can work for you or against you. It depends on how you manage it. Anger produces denial and fear, yet it’s necessary for survival because it generates the strength to protect ourselves. 

At times, everyone has anger, however it’s a dangerous place to stay and is closely connected to pain and depression. It can be difficult to know where these feelings end, and the others begin. In the heat of the moment: Stop. Monitor your anger thru self-awareness, and avoid hostile, aggressive, and violent behavior toward others. We don’t have to act on our feelings. We can wait until we have more clarity of thought. Have some quiet time— go for a walk.

As children, we were taught anger was bad and people will not like us if we are angry. We learned our anger was unjustified and something to quickly get over. But when we repress anger, it can grow into resentment and rage. When we deny anger, we learn not to trust our feelings.

Give yourself permission to feel anger, accept it; but don’t give it a free parking spot in your head. Try and understand your emotions. Maybe it’s pain you’re feeling? Anger is also a fearful response to uncertainty, maybe the dread of losing a job, financial stress, or relationship issues. It’s easy to confuse the feelings of anger with the feelings of frustration. Stay in control of yourself. Pause. Breathe deep. Regain your composure. Being kinder to yourself boosts your resiliency and also makes you kinder and more compassionate toward others. 

Screaming at people or acting hostile, makes the other person defensive; they scream back. This is excessive anger, so try to avoid situations that illicit violent reactions. If people irritate you, try not to get over emotional; look at that person from a different point of view. Don’t react violently, instead ask yourself “What” questions: What are you angry about? What is frustrating you? What are you thinking?

Anger makes acting rationally difficult and it destroys your inner peace. Then you can’t sleep well and your appetite changes. You’re grumpy all day spreading cold prickles, not warm fuzzies. You wind up feeling lonely cause you’ve alienated everyone; even the dog is afraid of you.

It takes a lot of practice to manage anger. Conduct a self-inventory so you can recognize issues you may have with deep-seated anger. If you do, then take action to help yourself like seeking help from a professional or talking with a Military Family Life Consultant. If your anger seems out of control, it’s time to release your grip on anger, judgment, sarcasm, and accusations. Smile, use humor and patience to own up to what's angering you and unrealistic expectations you have for how things should be.

Sweeten up! Keep the stress down, avoid criticizing or placing blame on others.  Use "I" statements to describe an issue. Be respectful, kind, patient and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you didn’t do the dishes." “I want you to do your homework.” “I want your cooperation.” After the “misunderstanding” forgive and forget. Forgiveness is a powerful tool. Don’t let anger and negative moods block positive feelings. This is the “Poor Me” syndrome, and leads to your retreating into your own cave of bitterness or sense of injustice. Reach out! By forgiving someone who angered you, you both learn from the moment and strengthen your relationship. Give peace a chance!


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at or at

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