Understanding anger

Like all emotions, anger is completely normal – it’s not “bad” and it’s not harmful. It’s the things we do when we’re angry that can cause problems, not the anger itself! 

I like to think of anger as being like an iceberg. Anger is the emotion that we feel and see most prominently, but often there are a number of other uncomfortable emotions lurking beneath the surface. Anger is an emotion that we often snatch up to avoid feeling more difficult emotions such as fear or shame. Anger can make us feel powerful and strong which is often easier to tolerate than feeing the vulnerability that comes with other emotions. 

I often work with people who want to “get rid” of their anger – unfortunately it’s impossible to stop ourselves feeling any of our emotions, they’re part of being human. However, we can think about why certain things make us angry. What emotions might be hiding under the surface of the anger iceberg. I also help people to think about how they behave when they’re feeling angry, because often this is the most damaging part of anger. We can’t decide which emotions we feel and which we don’t, but we can decide what we do when we’re feeling a certain way. We are always in control of our behaviour, even if it sometimes feels like we aren’t. Becoming more aware of the thoughts, feelings and behaviours associated with our anger can help us to manage it more effectively.