Dr. Hawkins discusses the origin of anger and how to move more healthy ways of dealing with underlying feelings that can lead to an anger response.
What is the Origin of Anger and How to Deal with It?
Anger is an emotion that we all experience at some point in our lives. It can serve as a powerful motivator for change and can stem from a desire to right a wrong or rectify an injustice. However, more often than not, anger is a secondary emotion, masking deeper and more vulnerable feelings. In this article, we will explore the origins of anger and provide strategies on how to deal with it effectively.
Anger, at its core, is a natural human emotion. It can be a healthy response to situations where we feel that something is unjust, unfair, or just plain wrong. Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center, highlights that anger often emerges from a good place within us, as we seek to make things better, right a wrong, or transform something negative into something positive. In these cases, anger can be a force for positive change.
Anger as a Secondary Emotion
However, the problem with anger arises when it becomes a secondary emotion. In such cases, anger masks deeper, more vulnerable feelings such as hurt, sadness, fear, and a sense of powerlessness. When we are in a state of anger, we may become hurtful and lash out at others. It’s often said that “hurting people hurt people,” and this holds true for anger expressed in a hostile and aggressive manner. Rather than achieving the desired outcomes, such anger only adds fuel to the fire.
The Protective Nature of Anger
At its core, anger is meant to be a protective mechanism. It arises when we attempt to shield ourselves from feeling vulnerable or helpless. We don’t like the emotions associated with vulnerability, such as feeling voiceless, defenseless, or powerless, and we want to guard against them. Therefore, anger emerges as a protective response, an attempt to prevent these vulnerable feelings from surfacing.
Transforming Anger into Connection
So, what can we do about it? The first step is to acknowledge that anger, particularly when expressed in a destructive manner, is a problem. Taking ownership of your anger and recognizing that it’s a manifestation of deeper emotions is crucial. You should also aspire to express your feelings in a healthier way, one that promotes understanding and connection rather than division and conflict.
Healthy Ways to Deal with Anger
- Self-Reflection: Start by reflecting on your anger. Ask yourself, “What is really fueling this anger?” Try to identify the primary emotions hiding beneath it, such as sadness, fear, or hurt.
- Communicate Openly: Instead of lashing out in anger, try to express your feelings openly and honestly. Share your primary emotions and concerns with others. This can create an open forum where your vulnerable self meets the vulnerable self of the other person, fostering a deeper understanding.
- Seek Professional Help: If your anger issues are persistent and damaging to your relationships, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor. They can provide you with valuable tools and strategies to manage and express your anger more constructively.
- Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate mindfulness and relaxation exercises into your daily routine. These practices can help you stay calm in the face of anger triggers, enabling you to respond more thoughtfully and less reactively.
- Conflict Resolution Skills: Learn effective conflict resolution skills that focus on active listening, compromise, and finding mutually agreeable solutions. This can help defuse situations that often lead to anger.
- Time-Outs: When you feel anger rising, take a break to cool off. This can help you gather your thoughts and prevent saying or doing things you may regret later.
- Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Engaging in regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help manage stress and reduce the frequency and intensity of anger episodes.
Anger is a complex emotion, often masking more vulnerable feelings that we’d rather not confront. To deal with anger effectively, it is essential to recognize its origin and take ownership of your emotions. Through self-reflection, open communication, professional guidance, and the adoption of healthy coping strategies, you can transform your anger into a force for positive change and personal growth. By understanding the origin of anger and learning how to deal with it constructively, you can cultivate healthier relationships and a more harmonious life.
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.