Anger is an energetic, emotional response to some type of uncomfortable feeling, physical or emotional, including pain, illness, rejection, threat, loss, grief, disappointment, etc), or anticipation of such a feeling. Yet uncomfortable feelings alone are not the cause. Triggering thoughts, especially judgments or perceptions of potential or real harm, threat, or vulnerability are also required. The thought can be as simple as a memory of a seemingly related experience, or expectation of one.
The energy of anger motivates action to deal with the threat or the associated feelings. This urge wants to change something, so it seeks a target, outside or inside. The action chosen can take a wide range of forms with a wide range of results, both constructive and destructive.
Anger can also be a substitute emotion for uncomfortable feelings, a form of distraction in which a choice, conscious or unconscious, is made to get angry rather than feel pain/discomfort or feel helpless and powerless in relation to it. Utilizing anger can promote an attention shift - from self-focus to other-focus, providing a false sense of power, protection and control.
Getting angry may serve to reduce feelings of fear and vulnerability by transferring them to something or someone else, thus putting another person in the victim role. In addition to providing a good smoke screen for feelings of vulnerability, anger also offers a false sense of power, righteousness, and moral superiority to make up for a lack of self-esteem.
Many of us have been encouraged to deny, repress, or hide many uncomfortable feelings and vulnerabilities by transforming them into anger, yet at deep levels they persist. Not fully facing and befriending them limits our full expression of aliveness, interferes with all our relationships, and undermines our health and wellbeing.
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