“Anger is just sad’s bodyguard.” – Liza Palmer
This is one of my favorite visuals to use with children who have challenges in managing their angry feelings
Angry is an emotion that we all know. We yell, give the silent treatment, throw things, walk away and try to manage our feelings in all kinds of ways. But wait, is that anger presenting or could it be something else?
Anger is often a secondary emotion. I say often, but I think it’s almost always the primary emotion. It is the piece of the iceberg that we can see and we think that it keeps us from appearing to be vulnerable. Let’s get curious about the last time you were angry. Was it really anger? What messages were you giving yourself based on what triggered you? Check out some examples:
I’m angry at my boss for adding another project to my plate. –> I am overwhelmed.
I’m angry at my partner for forgetting our anniversary. –> I feel sad and disconnected.
I’m angry at my daughter for coming home an hour late. –> I was so worried that something happened!
I’m angry that my partner never wants to be intimate with me. –> I feel rejected and ugly.
What if, instead of doing what we do when we’re angry, we dig deeper and identify what that underlying feeling is and then talk about it? What if, when someone else’s anger is directed at you, you get curious? You can say, “I see that you are angry with me. What makes you so mad about what I said/did? I want to understand.”
Anger is not bad, not at all, and can be really productive in moving forward. With patience and curiosity, it can serve us and connect us with others.