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Anger is a Secondary Emotion

Last week, I shared a strategy for overcoming emotional wounds and being able to authentically forgive someone who we feel has wronged us. In a nutshell, the strategy is to shift our focus to things we wish to be forgiven for.

I was moved and inspired to receive a few hundred messages from people who had wonderful insight to share. Here is a portion of one of these messages that really hit me as being true and helpful to remember when we are at the receiving end of a person's anger:

"Something that helped me once was to hear that anger is a secondary emotion - that is, for many people, it feels safer to be angry than to feel whatever unbearable state it is they are really feeling, perhaps being powerless, humiliated, ashamed, rejected, inadequate, or insignificant. For such people, anger feels more socially acceptable, and they feel safer with it. Admitting to or facing other feelings might be harder. So it comes out as anger."

This feels like an invaluable cue to incorporate into our cognitive patterns - whenever a person directs anger at us, we ought to immediately remind ourselves that anger being a secondary emotion, there is likely another state that is the root source of the person's outward display of anger. By adopting this paradigm of anger, we are less likely to be wounded and defensive, and more capable of understanding the deeper emotional states involved.

Many thanks to the wonderful reader who shared this with me, and now with our readership.

Anger is a secondary emotion.


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