How to Listen to Your Anger

Anger is energy with a message, and it’s talking to you

Annie Mueller
Human Parts
Published in
9 min readApr 23, 2019


Credit: Malte Mueller/Getty Images

For years, I was known in my friend group as “the calm one.”

I took this label as a compliment because it meant I was stable. I could handle stress well. I could use a well-modulated voice and carefully chosen words in a conflict. I could articulate rather than emote.

I felt these were worthy accomplishments and signs of superiority — clear indications that I wasn’t a weak, emotional creature, but a strong, stable, mature, logical person.

Ha, hahaha, ha.

I carried this idea of myself for years (years!) until a small incident broke it open — and broke me down.

Illustrations: Annie Mueller

We were on the beach. My oldest daughter, 10 at the time, was coming out of the water. She was hopping and playing in the surf when a dog ran up, jumped at her, and bit her on the ankle. It wasn’t a bad bite; it didn’t even break the skin. She was physically fine but she was scared.

I was sitting a few yards away on the sand and saw it all happen. I ran to her, grabbed the dog by the collar, and looked around for the owner.

No one.

I yelled, “Whose dog is this?”


There were plenty of people on the beach, but no one was willing to claim the dog. I gave up and shooed the dog away, then went to comfort my daughter, telling her that it’s okay and it’s not a big deal.

I was trying to convince her to forget — and also trying to convince myself.

As it turns out, being able to consistently stifle your anger is not a sign that you’re emotionally healthy.

But the feeling I had grew and grew. It was a feeling I couldn’t quite name until it burst into my face with its red and orange flares and screaming voice and insistent crackling tension: anger.

As the anger rolled and boiled, other memories clawed their way to the surface, demanding to be…



Annie Mueller
Human Parts

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