Anger Management and Emotional Pain
Have you ever heard someone say that anger is a secondary emotion? Anger as a secondary emotion means that when you feel your anger starting to rise, there is a good chance there is another emotion lurking beneath the surface.
As an anger management counselor in Denver I often help people recognize the emotions that are fueling their anger. One of the most common reasons that anger surfaces is because of some type of emotional pain in life.
Anger Is A Secondary Emotion
Anger is one of your basic human emotions. It is an emotion that can drive you to take action or respond to an emergency. Anger rarely arises for no reason. There has to be some type of event that causes this emotion to spring into action.
This is why people often talk about their anger triggers. There are certain things in life that can just drive you through the roof. What many people overlook when they become angry is why that particular situation gets them so upset.
Anger triggers happen when someone hits a sensitive area in your life. Someone says something that hurts emotionally, and what you feel is sadness or hurt. When your body and mind feels this emotional pain it wants to find some relief, so anger jumps in to take over. The intensity of your anger is stronger than your feelings of sadness. Anger came to save the day.
All of this can happen so quickly that you don’t even recognize why you’re angry. You just know what that person said hit a nerve. If you take some time to slow down and be honest with yourself you might realize that you felt hurt before you felt angry.
That’s why we call anger a secondary emotion.
Dealing With Your Past Hurts Is Important To Heal Your Anger
We all experience emotional pain in life. It’s unavoidable. Luckily your emotions are designed to move through emotional pain. Sometimes this natural process doesn’t happen. You get stuck, you hold grudges, and you have resentment.
Pain that hasn’t been dealt with effectively can easily turn into anger. If you have been in a romantic relationship you might have experienced this problem. You can feel hurt by something your partner said or did to you and you never dealt with that hurt. Every time something reminds you of that pain you get angry.
If you want to truly deal with your anger you have to deal with your emotional pain. You have to learn how to forgive people for the things they have done that have wounded you.
Avoiding emotional pain will only contribute to your struggle with anger.
Trauma and Anger Are Often Related
Traumatic or painful experiences have a way of sticking in your memory. Typically your most vivid memories are linked to a strong emotion that you felt in that moment. If a memory is connected to an emotion such as fear or terror, that memory can stick with you for a long time.
This is where anger comes to save the day again. Your body and mind doesn’t enjoy feeling fear, so your anger comes in to make you feel safe and in control.
If you find that you are experiencing intense emotions such as rage, or have anger outbursts that feel very inappropriate for the situation, there is a possibility you are experiencing the after effects of trauma also known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Traumatic experiences can have a way or re-wiring your brains normal processing skills, and makes it feel impossible to control your emotions.
If you are experiencing the signs of PTSD it can be important to talk with a mental health professional. Even if you don’t experience the full effects of trauma your anger is likely connected to some of the negative things you have experienced in your past.
In order to experience long term relief from anger you may need to address the past hurts in your life.
Cody Mitts, MA, NCC
Cody is a therapist located in Denver, Colorado that helps people recover from the negative experiences in life. He specializes in problems related to anger, anxiety and dealing with the effects of trauma and abuse.
Ipseity Counseling Clinic
Ipseity Counseling Clinic is a Denver counseling practice dedicated to helping people overcome the painful parts of life. We focus on empowering you to live confidently and with purpose!