Why are you REALLY angry? Part 3

This week we are having a great discussion about what is underneath our anger.  We have come to understand that anger is a secondary emotion, which means that there are many other emotions that underlie the emotion of anger.  These emotions are hidden deep down inside of us and are feelings that most of us don't want others to see.  Today, the underlying emotion of anger that I'm going to talk about is fear.


Fear is an emotion that we all can have when we do not feel safe or if we feel threatened by something or someone.  When experiencing fear, we are most likely feeling vulnerable, which then can trigger a reaction resulting in anger.  Anger is often the first emotion that we see because of the automatic response that has been triggered, better known as the "fight, flight or freeze" response when exposed to a threatening situation.  

Anger is associated specifically with the fight response, where we react to protect and defend ourselves. However, fear is not only triggered when we are feeling threatened, but also when we are feeling hurt, frustrated, out of control, disappointed, vulnerable or disconnected.  Maybe somewhere along the way, we have learned that being angry is easier than admitting that we are scared or feeling pain in our relationships with others.  Anger can allow us, in the moment, to feel powerful, thus decreasing the sense of vulnerability, and increasing our felt sense of security.  But acting out in our anger can also push the people we love and care about away from us when we need them the most. 

So, what can we do?  The most important thing we can do is to become more aware that fear could be underlying our anger.  In knowing this, it can help us to get to the root of why we are so angry and begin addressing the fear itself.  Anger is a powerful emotion that can help us to know when something is not right...like a warning signal.  We need to be more aware of what we are experiencing so we can take a closer look at what we can do to change it.  

I hope that this has been helpful!  Tomorrow Natalie continues our discussion about anger and hurt.  Thanks for reading!

Written by Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFTA

Emily Freeze, MPH, MA, LMFTA is a marriage and family therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Emily enjoys doing individual counseling, couples counseling and family counseling. Emily specializes in women's issues, specifically maternal mental health and reproductive mental health.

Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area, including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Zionsville, and Westfield.