Are the things we feel when we're angry how we "really feel"?

My husband and I just had a horrible fight, unusual for us but not completely unheard of.

What’s a little surprising to me was a couple of things that popped into my head to say/throw at him. Things that I don’t know if I’m thinking all the time or if I thought that they would just be likely to hurt him.

I didn’t say them, but I wonder. Do you think that the things that you think when you’re furious are more genuine than things you think when you’re calm? If you say something when you’re angry, is it because you really think them or because you think that saying them is the best way to attack the other person?

I think it’s all about the attack. When I’m furious, I don’t care WHAT I say. And I go in ready to kill or maim verbally. That’s why I tend to walk away from angry encounters.

When I’m not angry, I have no inclination to say bad things like that. I tend to have more perspective on the things that bug me only when I’m in a bad mood, and I can keep from saying something unforgiveable.

It has taken me a long time to learn how to do this.

They may well be things that we’ve kept bottled up, out of simple politleness or in the spirit of compromise, but when released in anger, they take the form of messages tied to rocks and thrown as hard as we can.

(I read somewhere that rage is similar to the chemical rection to fear; in fact it’s 70% or so the identical chemical secretions.)

That makes sense to me. The reactions I have feel pretty much the same, down to the shaking knees and desire to cry.

I think things you’ve kept in the back of your mind may pop up when you become angry, so probably the thoughts were there but at the same time you aren’t really in a normal state of mind to consider things logically. When you come back to a calm state and those things no longer bother you then they were probably not legitimate anyway.

Wow, what a great way to express it.

More genuine? No. More eloquently:

Echoing others, I think that when you’re feeling that aggressive, you go for what hurts, not what you necessarily think is true. Hopefully, you still have the frame of mind to not go completely for the verbal kill, knowing that what you say will still be in the air tomorrow when you don’t “feel” that way any longer.

Usually not. Because usually things you only become cognizant of when you’re furious are aspects of reality that you otherwise block from yourself because you want to make nice more than you want to process the uncomfortable stuff.

People who stay in touch with their emotions don’t’ tend to be “all over the map” emotionally, so their take on things is most often spot-on. People who are very repressed and far from aware of their own feelings, who come out with very different emotional material (& attitudes) when you get them drunk or when one straw lands to break the camel’s back? No, you get rebound, only marginally more accurate than the content you get off them on a typical day. (To an extent you can stir in the “angry” or “drunk” stuff and mix it with the “everyday” stuff and try to triangulate, but even then the anger or the other pent-up feelings often tend to get attached to thoughts that aren’t really what those feelings are about).

People who know what they “really feel” are generally also quite good at thinking about their feelings, interpreting them intellectually, and letting their feelings guide their intellectual conclusions about life. They have less separation between “think” and “feel”. And they’re more consistent, so not much of this everyday everyday everyday everyday ANGRY!!! everyday pattern to begin with, whereby you could meaningfully distinguish between how they feel about this or that subject matter when they’re visibly angry and how they feel about the same subject matter when they are not.


I think those feelings are true, but when I’m not angry I’m willing to overlook/compromise/deal with it. That’s what you do in a relationship.

When I’m angry, I’m all about me.

An example: I was recently dating a guy, a pretty nice guy, but kind of controlling. I knew that the relationship wasn’t going anywhere, since I was going to be leaving town at a specified date, so I put up with it. In return I got a lot of other nice stuff about being with this person - I just made sure that we never really clashed.

Then we broke up - he couldn’t stand the wait before I left town. Well, there were some things I needed to say, and some things I needed to get from his house. He had never heard me disagree with him, never heard me flat out speak my mind without taking his views into consideration. He almost stroked out he was so angry. I’m glad this was mostly by email and telephone, because he’s a big guy and might just have forgotten himself. And then I told him that he was acting like a child and needed to get over himself - also true.

So, true things - the guy was nice but too controlling and not very rational about it. I was willing to put up with it, and work around it for the sake of his other good qualities, while we were together (for a limited time). Once we weren’t together, I didn’t baby his ego, said what I needed to, and he flipped out.

I hope all that makes sense…

I think how you “really” feel about something should be determined by how you normally feel about something. If 99% of the time, you’re okay with X, and 1% of the time, X really ticks you off, I don’t think it’s logical to say that the 1% is the true feeling.

Yeah, that anger thing is powerful, and can carry you to places you might not otherwise go, no matter how decent you are everyday. I’ve just dealt with this in a work relationship, and have been spending a lot of mental effort trying to figure, and smooth, it out.

The best point of view I’ve come up with after that altercation is that, although we all go there and say things we “don’t mean to”, sometimes the rational valves just give way from too much pressure, and out comes a well-aimed brick. “You are hurting me, and I will hurt you back, fuck you for hurting me!” Understandable, when the monkey-mind soup comes to a full-tilt boil, but not really productive in the scope of things.

My coworker said, after the soup bubbled over, and I handled it in as professional a manner as I could, because, it’s my job to handle that: “You just let things roll right off you!” Well, no, I don’t, really, I go home and try to figure out how to solve the problem, with due angst and thinking, often too much mental space occupied with it.

The difference , and the best part of managing anger, is that it really is a learned skill. In my case, I’ve gotten to a ripe enough age that I have made those mistakes, learned that blurting stuff out and wounding people is as bad as physically hitting them. It not worth the small victory of “Yeah, Fuck you, too!” It’s damaging. You learn to watch your mind, and analyse why certain things set you off. One trick I’ve learned is , when pissed, do something really physical to work off steam before talking to the other person about the problem. It releases the crappy need to strike out.

On the other side, more in play with close personal relationships, after damage done, there is forgiveness, which is also a learned dance.In a relationship, you can be free to cry and beg for emotional amnesty before the drama subsides, and cuddle, or whatever else to bond again. Work relationships, it takes more time to let it subside, the sweetness of immediate re-bonding isn’t so easy.

Yikes, going on here, but, it’s been on my mind to try to get past this stuff lately. AHunter’s post is quite nice here, and is helping me in thinking about it.

I would say that how you feel about someone when you’re angry with them is how you feel about them when you’re using the worst possible interpretation of their behavior. Some people have a sort of killer instinct that allows them to go off in any sort of fight (like my ex-wife, for example). I think most people maintain a mental filter that prevents them from doing so except in the most extreme cases. Anyway, to answer your question, definitely not.

The problem is, what hurts the most is usually what’s true. I know that the things I’ve said in anger that hurt the most are things that the other person knows are true, or secretly fears are true. A large part of tact lies in avoiding stating truths in ways that hurt others. In anger, we use those truths as weapons. Or what Slithy Tove said.