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You don't just feel angry

Nov 12, 2010

Many times I have asked people, "How do you feel?" and they tell me, "I feel angry". Then I ask them, "What else do you feel?" and they say, "Nothing. I just feel angry".

It is important to know that there is always another feeling that exists with anger. There is always another feeling that exists prior to anger. This is why anger is considered a secondary emotion. In other words, it occurs after and as a reaction to another, more primary emotion. These primary emotions are of the negative type, or feelings that we see as negative, such as hurt, helpless, disrespected or afraid. They make us feel vulnerable in some way, therefore, we cover them up with anger. The anger makes us feel less vulnerable and temporarily more empowered.

Unfortunately, there is no path to the resolution of our feelings except through the pain of the primary emotion. We must learn to accept our primary emotions and be with them in a more positive way if we are to conquer our chronic anger state. Also, being aware of our primary emotions allows us to communicate our feelings in a healthier way, not just as anger, but as another more genuine sense of ourselves that others can understand and connect to.

Author - Lorraine Watson

Lorraine Watson is a licensed therapist in California with extensive experience in the areas of anger management, nonabusive relationship skills and trauma. She is the author of "Expressing Anger Nonviolently". The contents of that book can be viewed on our website at

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