What Are Anger Triggers?

Lily Ruha

Anger triggers are occurrences or events, such as a negative tone of voice or mannerisms, that trigger the emotion of anger. The trigger might lead to characterizing the event as hurtful, belittling or disrespectful. The experience of an anger trigger is handled differently by different people, ranging from dismissing the event to feeling enraged. A healthy response to triggers involves acknowledging the emotion of anger and reevaluating the interpretation of the event. Anger might be a legitimate response in situations of injustice or an overreaction in cases of misinterpretation.

Being stuck in traffic may trigger anger.
Being stuck in traffic may trigger anger.

Triggers fall into a wide variety of events or occurrences. A person who asks a teenage boy a question might interpret his response of "whatever" as disrespectful. A neighbor's loud music might trigger feelings of anger. People who turn their backs to others who are speaking might illicit angry responses from some people. Someone who speaks quickly without warmth in his or her voice might trigger anger in certain people.

A noisy neighbor that blasts music in the middle of the night can be an anger trigger.
A noisy neighbor that blasts music in the middle of the night can be an anger trigger.

Each person has a different set of anger triggers. For one person, the perception that others are making fun of him or her might lead to intense anger. Another person in the same situation might join in the laughter and dismiss the incident as harmless. The angered person in this scenario might be interpreting the event as belittling or hurtful. His or her internal talk might involve negative conclusions about the people who are joking, along with a desire to lash out or remove himself or herself from the situation.

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There are numerous possible triggers of anger.
There are numerous possible triggers of anger.

Handling anger in healthy ways involves self-awareness about anger triggers and related thoughts and emotions. Acknowledging the presence of anger is a necessary first step, followed by understanding specific triggers. Some people might react angrily to situations without first analyzing the event, their feelings and the intent of others. Taking the actions of other people personally is one reason that some people are angered. The teenager who responds with the term "whatever," for example, might use that word in many instances and with all people.

Anger triggers typically are healthy in certain situations that involve injustice or that demand attention. A noisy neighbor who blasts music in the middle of the night, for example, might be aware that he or she is violating a local ordinance and keeping others awake. If a neighbor's work performance is jeopardized because of sleep deprivation, anger might be a legitimate response in the situation. In each case, understanding anger triggers and the associated thoughts and emotions is an important part of assertively expressing and dealing with anger.

Some people might react angrily to situations without first analyzing the intent of others.
Some people might react angrily to situations without first analyzing the intent of others.

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Discussion Comments


I am willing to bet most of you have had many times when mom or da or even your brother or sister would belittle you or make fun of you or if you were mad, people would laugh at you and make fun. This only aggravates it more. It seems I have no intent to hurt anyone and never go out of my way to bother anyone, but if someone makes a nasty remark to me for no reason, I get very, very angry.


My husband has a temper. If someone says something he does not agree with, he goes off on them period. He out talks the person, throws things and curses them out. It is getting so bad until no one wants to be around him. Their is a lot of tension in our house and it's like walking on pins and needles.


Repetitive noises anger me. It doesn't matter if they come from an animal, a thing, or a person. I get angry all the same.

I hate it when birds wake me up chirping early in the morning. I have actually gone outside and thrown things at the tree before to get them to stop!

If the fan in my room gets a spiderweb or something caught in it and starts making even a slight ticking noise, I will wake up and get really angry. Then, I will take the fan apart and try to find what is making the noise.


You never know what will trigger someone's anger, so if you are around people that you don't know very well, it's best to avoid using any words that might be deemed offensive. I had a friend who was always flippantly using the word “retard,” and it never bothered the people in our group, but it really sent someone outside the group into a rage.

He happened to use this word while we were eating outside a cafe. Someone at the next table just so happened to have a mentally disabled little sister, and this person came over and gave him a piece of her mind. She made him feel about as small as the crumbs on the table!


@giddion – Mine is along the same lines. I hate it when anyone responds to something that I have said with, “Hmmm.” I don't hate it if they say this like they are really considering what I've said, but it angers me when I can tell that it is more of a dismissal or a disapproval of my point.

My mother used to say this whenever I would tell her about something that I felt was important. I think that she did it to belittle me, and it made me so angry! I felt like I was being psychoanalyzed and dismissed all at once.


My anger trigger has always been when someone uses the word, “So?” in response to something that I have said. This first bothered me when I was six and my older sister's friend said this after just about everything I said.

It is just so rude! It's basically like saying, “And why should I care?”

My parents hated this, too. Maybe I got my hatred of it from them.

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