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What Is Anger?

So if anger is really just a warning sign for something deeper, then what is it warning you of, and where does it come from? Anger is the way we protect ourselves from unmet needs. Whether it’s an emotional need, like feeling loved or validated, or whether it’s a physical need, like having enough time or space or money or freedom, or if it’s a need for justice that makes you angry, stemming from moral convictions about things like political corruption or the terrorist attacks of 2001 or the way your brother-in-law is hurting his family because of a sexual addiction, anger rises when your needs are not met.

Anger can be used to cover up or avoid emotions that we don’t want to deal with, again identifying a much deeper issue than what appears on the surface. It’s a whole lot safer sometimes to feel anger than sadness or regret or shame or other painful and embarrassing emotions.
Anger can also be used to control a situation, and can develop out of a fear of losing or being out of control. That stems from issues of insecurity that express themselves in ways that put others down or make us feel superior, again going back to a deep unmet need for validation and respect. Another cause of anger can be avoiding responsibility. When unmet needs arise, we respond in anger as a way of denying personal responsibility for those unmet needs. We point the finger and place the blame for our problems in the wrong places. This often arises when we spend time with people who share our own weaknesses. We see something in another person that we don’t like about ourselves, and we become angry about it, misplacing the blame for our own mistakes on those who share them with us.
An important part of processing our anger in a healthy and life-giving way is to identify what’s really going on “under the hood.” Understanding the sources of our anger can help us to respond properly when it arises. We can learn to respond in constructive ways to these deeper issues that arise, rather than through destructive expressions of anger.

Continue to Expressions of Anger ->

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