Anger and sadness are both important expressions of emotion that can be difficult to navigate. Depending on what kinds of experiences we’re going through, anger and sadness can mean very many different things.
First, let’s looks at what it looks and feels like to be both angry and sad.
Unfortunately, anger and sadness tend to feed into each other. We might feel a sense of anger or rage, whilst at the same time feel down and hopeless. This can make it hard to fathom which is both a confusing and painful experience - a situation that leaves us feeling somehow stuck between the two.
We learn how to express anger through modelling which starts at infancy and continues throughout our life. All of our experiences can influence how we do or do not manage anger.
If we witnessed unhealthy expressions of anger as a child - whether that be violent outbursts or suppression - we may end up struggling to express anger in a balanced, healthy way as adults.
We may also find it difficult to control our anger if we haven’t been given the room to express our anger as children (or later in life). This includes experiences where we have had to suppress our feelings or those where we feel we have not been fully heard.
The organisation Mind give some great advice on how to manage our anger constructively.
Suppressed anger can lead to negative feelings about ourselves, causing anxiety and low self-esteem. As a result, this can make our anger get worse as we begin to feel more isolated or unsupported or even fearful. This can lead to a downhill spiral where we might begin to feel out of control of our anger.
Feelings of inadequacy can also trigger angry outbursts. We may have buried these feelings very deeply, or we might end up tricking ourselves that we are just an “angry person”. But this is rarely the case. There is usually a bank of emotions behind expressions of anger which can help us understand things on a much deeper level.
Coping with anger and sadness can be an overwhelming experience. It can also be confusing - both to ourselves, and also to those around us. We can be left feeling rejected as we find it difficult to communicate what’s happening for us. This can lead to a negative cycle that simply perpetuates more negative feelings, leaving us isolated.
Fighting this strange and overwhelming blend of feelings can be very draining. For this reason, it’s important to seek the right support, and to take time out to reflect on where these feelings stem from.
Here are just a few examples of what might lie behind anger. (It’s important to remember that our experiences make everything subjective).
Unsurprisingly, grief is a common cause for this kind of mutual anger and sadness. You may be angry at the loss, the circumstances surrounding the loss, or perhaps for what reason you lost that person. This could also evoke sadness for many reasons - regret, fear, mourning… Some people feel the sadness or helplessness of not being able to change the situation, combined with anger at the situation itself.
If you have been betrayed, anger and sadness are to be expected as you begin to process what’s happened. In fact, the dance between anger and sadness might just be where you need to be for now. It’s important to express that confusion and also the grief for the part of you that is feeling let down.
For the depressed person, the turmoil can be hard to put into words. Anger and sadness are real partners in depression, and they can be extremely overwhelming. Bouts of depression can cause us to experience these emotions at the extreme which can make us feel both scared and hopeless.
These are just some of the reasons why we might be feeling both angry and sad. It's important to note that whilst our experiences might have common traits with others, they are ultimately ours and ours alone. If you’re currently struggling with anger and sadness, then it’s important that you seek the right support. Therapy provides a non-judgemental, supportive space that’s designed to allow you to express your thoughts and feelings on your own terms.
You can book a session with Natasha by clicking on her bio below.