Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor

Anger is an emotion that we have all felt at some point in our lives. While we have all experienced it, many don’t realize anger is considered a secondary emotion. A secondary emotion is defined as an emotional reaction we have to a primary emotion such as sadness, hurt, rejection, trapped, humiliation, etc. When we react with anger it feels automatic and sometimes uncontrollable, but we do it to protect ourselves from vulnerability. Continuing to react to situations with anger rather than tackling the original emotion at hand leaves you feeling angry, embarrassed, ashamed, or insecure and may even continue to sabotage your relationships. Below are a few basic steps you can take to manage the anger and begin to identify the primary emotions you are protecting yourself from.

Take a Pause

Whether you are just having a stressful day or are in the middle of an argument, make sure to take a moment to pause. Having those few moments can be helpful to gather your thoughts and feelings before becoming irritated and angry. It can be easy to say something in the heat of the moment that you regret and can’t take back and taking a time out can help.

Consider Why You are Angry

We aren’t really trained to think of anger as a secondary emotion, therefore, we never take the time to think about why we are angry. Are you feeling betrayed, hurt, disappointed, embarrassed, or ashamed? All of these may be causing you to feel stuck in an angry place. Once you have identified the primary emotion along with the situation that caused you to feel that way you can better understand how to handle it.

Take Action To Resolve The Issue

Rather than ruminating about what or who made you angry, dedicate your energy to working on resolving the issue at hand. Plan on leaving earlier for work, communicate your emotions to your partner effectively, maintain healthy boundaries with family, etc. Take control of what you can and communicate with others when they are affecting your mood. Just make sure it is in a productive manner.

Practice Healthy Coping Skills

Finally, it is important to take care of yourself and blow off steam in the best way you can. Some common coping skills include physical activity such as running or brisk walking, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, listening to music and journaling. These can vary for everyone but it is important to learn how to best relieve your stress or anger in a healthy way.

Seek Help

If it feels like your anger is out of control and coping feels impossible, make sure you seek help. Individual therapy can be helpful to process your anger and learn healthier ways to cope when it affects your daily life. If your anger has made you do things you regret, impacts your daily functioning, or has hurt those you care about, it may be time to seek counseling for some guidance. Keeping your anger in check can be challenging, but it can be easier when you have someone helping you through it.

If you are finding it difficult to manage your anger and would like some support, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!