What is Retaliatory Anger? And How to Manage it?

Retaliatory anger is a common type of anger and is a form of self-defense when someone or something is perceived as hurting or wronging you.

It is characterized by verbally and physically aggressive responses to anything you see as a threat to you. Retaliatory anger can also be deliberate and may be exercised with the intention of intimidating someone. 

The causes of retaliatory anger range from feeling stressed out and exhausted to having personality disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Some signs that may help you recognize when your anger is escalating into its retaliative form include the escalation of an issue into a loud argument and the feeling of being out of control. 

Retaliatory anger may be common, but if not dealt with it can be detrimental to your mental and physical health.

Moreover, it can hinder effective communication with the people around you and cause harm to your relationships with your loved ones. It is, therefore, necessary to learn effective ways of overcoming retaliatory anger.

Retaliatory Anger

Retaliatory anger is a negative response towards someone

Retaliatory anger is a negative response towards someone or something that we perceive as seeking to hurt or wrong us. It is characterized by a self-defensive urge to protect oneself and is expressed through verbal and physical aggression.

For example, if you are in a conversation with someone and they pass a snide comment targeting you, you could get angry and retaliate by saying something hurtful to them as well. 

In essence, retaliatory anger seeks revenge for the things we take personally. 

Another characteristic of this type of anger is that it is mostly experienced towards people who are closer to us because their words and actions are likely to hurt us more.

When this happens, we feel the need to defend ourselves and hence, lash out. Taking offense to our behavior, they may also respond with their own retaliatory anger which just goes to make matters worse. 

What is important to understand is that this type of anger is highly toxic and can eat away at your physical and mental well being.

It not only prevents you from communicating effectively with the people around you but also contributes to mental health conditions such as depression and physical health issues such as hypertension, skin problems and digestive disorders. 

Signs of Retaliatory Anger

Retaliatory anger can escalate a situation to the point where it becomes explosive.

Retaliatory anger can escalate a situation to the point where it becomes explosive. Here are some signs that can help you identify when your anger turns into inappropriate retaliatory aggression so that you can keep yourself in check:

  • If your inability to control your anger has prevailed over a long period of time and you find yourself lashing out every time you are displeased with someone or something.
  • If a situation that was meant to be resolved calmly escalates into a loud argument with sarcastic remarks, verbal abuses, and insults.
  • If you resort to physical violence as a reaction to something that someone says or does that hurts you or makes you feel like you have been wronged.
  • When you know that your anger is not going to help in a situation and yet you cannot keep a hold over it.

Causes of Retaliatory Anger

If you are someone who is suffering from retaliatory aggression,these are the seven points

There are several reasons that may contribute to the development of retaliatory anger. If you are someone who is suffering from retaliatory aggression.

Here are some factors that may be playing a role in making you oversensitive to the words and actions of the people around you such that you take things personally, feel the need to defend yourself, and resort to vengefulness:

  • Persistent feelings of stress and anxiety due to personal, financial, and work-related issues.
  • Complications in your relationships with your friends, family, coworkers, or your partner.
  • Exhaustion and a lack of sufficient sleep and rest.
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol and other drugs (substance abuse).
  • Poor impulse control.
  • An underlying mental health condition such as depression or a brain disorder such as Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED).
  • A personality disorder such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

6 Techniques to Manage Retaliatory Anger

If you are struggling with retaliatory anger here are some effective ways you can manage your retaliatory anger

If you are struggling with retaliatory anger and have a tendency to lash out when you feel hurt or wronged, you must realize that it takes a toll on your health as well as your relationships. It is necessary therefore to take measures to overcome this issue. 

Here are some effective ways you can manage your retaliatory anger:

  1. Take Deep Breaths
  2. Walk Away and Take a Timeout
  3. Get Sufficient Sleep
  4. Journal to Identify Your Triggers and Self-Reflect
  5. Talk to a Therapist
  6. Opt for Online Anger Management Lessons

1. Take Deep Breaths

Deep breathing is highly recommended, and one of the most effective ways to deal with your anger in the moment. It increases the oxygen flow to your nerves and relaxes them. This makes you calm down, clears your head, and allows you to deal with the matter at hand more logically.

If you are in a situation where you are about to have an outburst of retaliatory anger, pause for a moment, and take deep breaths. Feel free to use any breathing exercise that you know of.

For example, you can place a hand on your stomach and inhale slowly and deeply. Then, hold your breath and count to three. Following that, gradually exhale.

After you do this a few times, your urge to retaliate will automatically reduce and eventually subside.

2. Walk Away and Take a Timeout

Another way in which you can cope with retaliatory anger is by walking away from the situation and allowing yourself some time to retrospect, self-reflect, and calm down.

Walking away does not necessarily mean that you should physically move out of the space. In fact, it can also mean that you remain quiet or divert your mind toward something else. 

When you sit with your anger for a while and allow your brain to process your emotions more logically, you may realize that there are other ways of dealing with the situation and that your anger was unnecessary. When you revisit the situation, you will look at things from a calmer perspective

3. Get Sufficient Sleep

Sleep is very important for a clear mind and a stable emotional state. This is because sleep energizes your mind and body and enables them to recover from physical and mental exhaustion.

 If you don’t sleep for a sufficient amount of time, you are unable to recover from the burden of your stress and become irritable.

You start to take offense to the smallest of things, and your mind is unable to process your energy positively which is why you feel like everyone and everything is trying to hurt you. In response to that, you lash out. 

It is therefore extremely necessary for you to get at least 6-8 hours of sleep daily if you wish to manage your retaliatory anger. 

4. Journal to Identify Your Triggers and Self-Reflect

One of the most important ways that will help you overcome your anger is by understanding yourself better. It is important to recognize what your triggers are so that the next time you are faced with a similar situation, you can control yourself.

Unless and until you become more aware of your behavioral tendencies, you will not be able to manage your anger.

Similarly, self reflection is an important part of managing your retaliatory anger. This is because once you sit down and think back to the way you behaved in a certain situation, you might realize that the vengeful rage that you felt at the time was an overreaction and was unjustified.

Self-reflection also enables you to think about the consequences your anger must have had on the people around you. 

Once you are able to recognize that your behavior was wrong, you will be able to control yourself the next time you are faced with a similar situation. 

Journalling is one of the best ways to identify your triggers and self-reflect. It is a safe space for you to pour out your thoughts and may enable you to notice a negative pattern in the way you behave.

This in turn will make you more conscious of yourself in the future and will help you keep yourself in check. 

5. Talk to a Therapist

Psychotherapy can be very effective in helping you deal with retaliatory anger if you are having a hard time controlling it on your own. Your therapist may choose any one of the multiple methods of psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Psychodynamic Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), or Family Therapy. 

They will talk to you, enable you to understand yourself better, identify your triggers, and will give you useful advice on managing your urge to respond with retaliatory aggression in different situations.

6. Opt for An Anger Management Course

If you feel like your retaliatory anger is persistent and is damaging your mental health, physical health, and relationships, feel free to reach out for help.

Another effective approach is by enrolling in anger management classes. These classes are designed especially to help you fight your rage and give you useful tips to keep yourself in check.  

The courses that are available vary from a duration of 4 hours to 52 hours and you can choose to enroll in any one depending on the amount of help and support you feel like you need.


Retaliatory anger is a negative, self-defensive response towards someone or something that you perceive is seeking to hurt or wrong you and is usually expressed in the form of physical or verbal aggression.

While common amongst individuals, it is heavily characterized by vengefulness and the outcomes associated with retaliatory anger can be detrimental to your physical and mental wellbeing. 

Some of the reasons why you may tend to take things personally and develop retaliatory anger include long periods of stress and anxiety, complications in your relationships, mental health issues, personality disorders, and exhaustion.

Whatever the reason may be, it is necessary for you to identify when you behave vengefully. Some signs of retaliatory anger include your inability to control yourself, loud arguments, and physical violence.

In order to prevent your health and your relationships from suffering, you must take measures to control yourself and seek help for retaliatory anger. Amongst the several techniques that you can use to overcome this issue, the most effective tips that you can rely on are deep breathing, taking a time-out, and opting for online anger management classes.

Carlos Todd PhD LCMHC

Dr. Carlos Todd PhD LCMHC specializes in anger management, family conflict resolution, marital and premarital conflict resolution. His extensive knowledge in the field of anger management may enable you to use his tested methods to deal with your anger issues.


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