The Anatomy of Anger

Anger is selfish. It seeks the survival of its own. Anger is not interested in dialogue with the outside world, only the self defeating dialogue that protects the beliefs and ideas that keep anger alive. This is the negative self talk that says, “I am right and you are wrong– end of discussion.” It is the mind’s last resort to protect all that the individual holds dear.

Anger is rigid, unyielding and protectionist. Maybe this is part of the primitive mechanism to protect us from ourselves when we decide to not meet our emotional needs or meet these needs incorrectly. It is a last ditch attempt to set a boundary that says this is what I believe—I will stay here, you stay over there. Sometimes our other emotions have told us through the emotional cues what we love, what we hate, what makes us happy, and what makes us sad. However, these signals are ignored and, when the mind can no longer allow in foreign emotional content or is emotionally starved, anger steps in and closes the door.

The beauty of being human is that we are able to have an internal conversation with our emotions before they become anger. We can assess our feelings as they emerge by determining their origin, assessing their meaning and meeting the proposed need. It is almost like being able to differentiate when we are hungry from thirsty. Then we meet the need for food or water. In the same way one can determine if our thirst or hunger is for a specific kind of food, being emotionally aware can help us meet our need before anger comes in–not to dialogue, but to protect.

Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF
President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers
Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina

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