Anger is often viewed as an emotion that will get us into big trouble if we’re not careful. Most of us have learned that we must “manage our anger.” But what if our concepts about anger management are a bit misguided? What if, instead of managing and suppressing our anger, we explored anger and the feelings lurking below the surface? What if, instead of corralling and suppressing our anger, we learned about the emotions that anger is covering up and how to talk about them?
Is your anger covering up other feelings?
Anger is often considered a secondary emotion, meaning we typically resort to anger in order to protect us from more vulnerable feelings. What we don’t realize is that these more vulnerable feelings, if connected to needs, lead to compassion for ourselves from both ourselves and others.
According to Paul Ekman’s research about the “Atlas of Emotions,” anger is one of six basic emotions, along with disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. Learning to recognize anger not only as a basic emotion, but as a protector of more vulnerable emotions, is critically important.
Anger Management or Anger Recognition?
It is important to allow ourselves to feel anger because this usually suggests that something of value to us is being violated. Anger is often a signal to us that we need to attend to something, remedy something that has gone wrong. However, it is, perhaps, even more important to look below the anger to see if we might discover hurt, sadness, or some other “vulnerable” feeling. Connecting our feelings to our needs often leads to compassion from others, whereas anger is often off-putting and distancing.
Anger management, then, is really anger recognition and the discovery of our other, less discussed and recognized feelings. Becoming more vulnerable with others is a powerful way to connect to them as well as to ourselves.
We are ready to help you!
Are you interested in learning more about why you’re so angry? Do you want to figure out what is going on underneath that anger and how to overcome the unhealthy behaviors associated with anger? The Marriage Recovery Center has created a program for just this purpose!