Anger is a secondary emotion

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Understanding Anger as a Secondary Emotion

anger is a secondary emotion

The Iceberg Theory of Anger

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This post explains how anger is a secondary emotion. This is an important first step in addressing anger management problems. Everybody feels anger at different times, to varying degrees. Feelings of anger can arise in many different contexts. Experiencing unjust treatment; hearing a criticism; or simply not getting what you want are but a few of the potential triggers. The experience of anger can range from mild irritation, to frustration, all the way up to seething rage.

This post explains how anger is a secondary emotion. By understanding the roots of anger – that is, the primary emotions fueling it – people can more effectively.
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One of the basic realities of being in a situation with angry, hostile people is that it is easy to become angry and hostile as well. Besides fear and panic, the emotion of anger is experienced by many people when faced with a threat from others. In fact, often our deepest insecurities in a volatile situation emerge, not as anxiety, but as anger. This primary emotion, the experts tell us, is most often fear. While anger is usually understood as destructive, it can also be understood and expressed in constructive ways. For example, anger can be a guide, pointing to things that may be wrong in our lives and relationships. Anger can also energize us and others to change habitual, negative patterns of relating — whether these are with our family members, or co-workers, or with members of the local community.

You must feel another emotion first before you can experience anger. The primary emotion is typically fear , sometimes sadness or pain. Eventually the part about fear made its way into my process as well. That is when the shift began for me. Fortunately for the walls in my home, I slowly started to take a step back and check to see what was I protecting underneath the anger. There were less holes in the wall.

What really causes anger: other underlying painful emotions that aren't getting dealt with directly. With an actual iceberg, about one-third of it is visible and two-thirds of it is hidden under the surface. With anger, anger is the visible response, and some sort of emotional pain is hidden under the surface. Instead of dealing with that pain directly, we turn it into anger as a way to release it or redirect it. Sadness can get turned into anger. Anxiety can be turned into anger.

Anger is a secondary emotion

In his book Emotional Intelligence , Goleman tells us that anger causes blood to flow to our hands, making it easier for us to strike an enemy or hold a weapon. Most of an iceberg is hidden below the surface of the water.

Anger A Secondary Emotion – What Are We Protecting?

Anger is a secondary emotion that is more socially acceptable to express than the primary emotions we feel. Showing anger allows us to protect our vulnerable feelings of:. If someone says something derogatory, controlling, or demeaning to you, it may seem like a personal attack. Instead of voicing these vulnerable feelings that you may believe are weak, you lash out in anger to feel more in control. Unfortunately, reacting in aggressive ways like yelling, throwing things, pushing or hitting does not address what you are really feeling. Think about what outcome you want from the situation and the best way to achieve it.

Holidays with our childhood family can bring out many emotions that have been tucked away during the rest of the year so we can function. Old feelings from childhood can emerge almost as strongly as when we were children. Our struggles with our childhood family can help us understand some of the emotional turmoil we have with our own children. I find the concept of anger as a secondary emotion very helpful for getting to the source of the problem. For example, if you get angry because your child ignores you when he first get home from school, why is that so?


How to Understand Primary and Secondary Emotions



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