What's Underneath Your Anger?
Emotions are indicative of what is going on beneath the surface. The emotions you're seeing are like the the tip of the iceberg, there is usually much more going on underneath. When we learn to pay attention to our emotions they can be a helpful tool in self awareness and moving through experiences.
When we ignore emotions, they can take over the driver's seat and make us feel out of control.
Anger is an emotion that can be quite helpful but when left unchecked, it can be the most hurtful. Anger is a unique emotion because it can be a primary or secondary emotion depending on the situation. Emotions are split into primary and secondary categories.
Primary emotions are our reactions to situations or people while secondary are reactions to the reactions.
Anger is a primary emotion when there has been injustice or violation of a boundary. If you feel anger because someone took advantage of you or someone you love, that is appropriate. If you experience anger when you look at the injustices in the world today, that matches the context.
What happens when your anger doesn't match the context? If you find yourself feeling angry over minor inconveniences or exploding out of nowhere, this could be a sign that there is more going on underneath the surface. There is a quote that says, “I sat with my anger long enough and she told me her real name was grief.”
Sometimes, anger is masked sadness.
Meaning, sometimes anger is a secondary emotion. Sometimes, the emotion on the surface does not reflect what is inside. So, how does one find out what is underneath the surface of anger?
First, take some space where you can be alone and process your feelings. Journaling can be a helpful tool in getting your thoughts out and leaving them on the paper. Ask your anger to tell you about itself.
What is it angry about? What descriptors are used when you talk about anger?
Next, remember, secondary emotions are reactions to primary emotions. Meaning, what you see is not always what is really going on inside of you. When anger is a secondary emotion, spend some time asking what your anger could be responding or reacting to. As mentioned earlier, oftentimes anger is masked sadness so that can be a really helpful place to start-
ask yourself if there is anything that you are sad about.
Last, it is important to note that anger can feel like an uncomfortable emotion because of how people have experienced it in the past. People can associate anger with being out of control and therefore, without protection for yourself and others. One can try to suppress anger but we are feeling beings, the human body always finds a a way to feel. We were not made to suppress or keep things bottled up. Our bodies will find a way to get the anger out.
Anger that is out of control is called rage and rage happens when anger is suppressed.
You can express anger in a healthy way that is honoring yourself and others. In fact, anger, can be a helpful emotion. It is the emotion that says, “This situation is not right and needs to change.” If you are scared of anger, it might be helpful to spend some time processing how you have experienced anger in the past and possibly heal from any wounds that were caused from rage.
Give yourself permission to feel angry, it doesn't help anyone to bottle up emotions. Then, ask yourself what is underneath your anger. If there is sadness, let yourself be sad. If there is loneliness, let yourself feel your loneliness. In order to heal from our experiences, you have to feel our emotions connected to them. Letting yourself feel is one of the bravest and best things you can do for yourself.