Dear Rachel,

I’m a very angry person. I’m almost always getting mad about something: The bad service at the restaurant, the traffic jam when I’m late for an appointment, my friend’s hurtful comments, the news, the disrespect shown to our leaders and the general stupidity of most people on social media. I’m perpetually angry, and that makes me angry too! What can I do about it?

Eternally Angry

Dear Caring Deeply,

Anger is an emotion, and emotion indicates to us that we care. So you seem to care about many things.

You need to distinguish between the emotions you’re feeling and your reaction to them. Anger seems to be your default reaction to many different emotions that you mistakenly label as anger, and that’s why you’re not succeeding in dealing with them appropriately.

Running late for an appointment, spilling milk or being stuck in traffic yields frustration and anxiety. Hurtful comments or lack of consideration result in hurt feelings. Dissatisfaction with life or anger at one’s fate is bitterness. Shock at the way people communicate is righteous indignation. Anger at yourself can be disappointment. Being overly tired, overwhelmed or hungry can also cause you to feel oversensitive, which would make you less patient and tolerant.

Feeling a wealth of emotions but responding to them with anger isn’t productive, and it hurts you most by damaging your relationships and hurting you—body and soul—with unnecessary stress. It may be the result of what you learned or didn’t learn in your formative years about emotions and how to handle them.

Rename Your Emotions

The first step in changing this vicious and angry cycle is by learning to rename the triggers of your anger—some things are just plain anger, but most things are not—and then learning how to respond appropriately. Often, when you’re frustrated, you just have to accept that many things aren’t in your control. Taking action is a path to alleviating feelings of social injustice, and re-evaluating relationships and healing those you can (and leaving those you can’t) is the answer to hurtful people. Anger is seldom the way to go, but even true feelings of anger have to be mitigated in such a way as to not compromise our behavior.

What Your Anger Is Telling You

Your anger is also trying to tell you something. It wants you to get its message and respond to it: Are you acting in a way that is not true to your authentic self? Are you in an unhealthy, inappropriate or uncomfortable situation or relationship? Are you dealing with too many commitments at once? Is there something you should be doing to prevent whatever is happening from occurring? Is there a conversation you need to have with someone that you’re avoiding? Do you need to re-evaluate your priorities?

Is there some behavior or habit of yours that you have to change?

When you realize what your anger or your emotion masquerading as anger is trying to tell you, then you will be able to ameliorate the situation while simultaneously diffusing your negative emotion.

How to Express Your Anger

It says in the Talmud that someone who gets into a rage loses their share in the Next World because they lose their G‑dly image, and often act worse than an animal. So even if you’re feeling angry, you have to express your feelings calmly without yelling, attacking, screaming, cursing or being violent in any way.

Sometimes, the response can be to just to be quiet and do nothing. Often, that is the best response, especially with things, events and people that are out of our control.

And most importantly, we need to remember that everything is pretty much out of our control because G‑d runs the world, and He is putting these circumstances in your life and these obstacles in your path because He wants you to work on something. There’s no point in getting angry at the messenger who did this to you because ultimately this is about something that you needed to deal with.

So keep on experiencing the palette of your emotions, but learn to label them correctly, act accordingly and see how you can use your circumstances to serve G‑d, even if it just means by accepting them.

Then there will be no need to get angry, and you will experience greater inner and outer peace.