Anger Is A Firewall To Feeling

Anger is a secondary emotion, that is, it is a feeling that is triggered by other primary emotions. The primary emotion could be fear, embarrassment, disappointment, or even sadness. But anger acts as a firewall, stopping all access to those primary emotions.

Sometimes, this can be helpful. Anger is energizing. In an interpersonal conflict it can temporarily elevate us above others. Alone, it can energize us into action. However, anger can also be addictive, giving us the same dopamine release as drug use, gambling, and thrill seeking.

Regardless of its addictive properties, we all know that anger can be destructive. We can hurt others and damage relationships when our tempers get the better of us. And the more we rely on anger, the more we inhibit access to the primary emotions that are triggering the anger. Often those emotions are distressing, and relying on anger can indicate a history of being abandoned rather than comforted, or actively discouraged from experiencing or expressing those feelings.

It is essential to recognize that seeking to understand and manage our anger doesn’t mean suppressing or avoiding it, but about addressing the root cause. The goal isn’t to never feel anger but to understand its origins, its message, and to ensure it doesn’t blind us from other emotions that require our attention.

When our emotional default is anger it can be difficult to work on it when in the moment. However, if we can catch ourselves before being consumed by the anger we can try to take a moment to slow our breathing and try to connect to the primary emotion. If we can identify what that emotion is as we experience it we can be released from anger’s grasp. 

This is a simple use of mindfulness and meditation techniques. These practices are powerful tools that can cultivate an awareness of our emotional state, teaching us to observe our feelings without immediately reacting to them. This ‘observational gap’ can be the crucial time needed to identify the primary emotion before anger sets in.

Another helpful exercise for emotional introspection is journaling as it is a safe emotional outlet. Writing down our thoughts and experiences gives us a chance to clarify our thoughts as we consciously identify and name emotions. This practice of self-examination can help us reconnect to the emotions we avoid. 

And, finally, getting help from a trained professional, like a psychotherapist, to help us manage our feelings is always an option. Having a guide lead us back to our primary emotions is a wonderful way to rebuild emotional self-awareness. Therapy or counseling sessions can provide a safe space for us to explore our emotions, understand the triggers behind our anger, and develop strategies to deal with it more effectively.

While anger serves its purpose in specific situations, unchecked and unexamined anger can distance us from the core feelings that make us human. By reconnecting with our primary emotions and understanding the sources of our anger, we can live a life that’s not just reactive but reflective, paving the way for deeper connections, healthier relationships, and genuine self-awareness.

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