I’ve taught anger classes for a decade. Questions like Why Do We Get Angry? or Where Does Anger Come From? are complicated. Here are a few thoughts that might give you a place to start. Explore these and when you’re ready, talk to someone or take a class or read a book. There are lots of resources. Find the right one for you. Understanding where anger begins is just the beginning.
Anger is Secondary
Anger is a secondary emotion. So if you’re feeling anger there is another emotion that came before it and is responsible for the level of anger you feel. Exploring anger must go deeper than anger itself. Only when you understand the source of an anger episode can you start to uncover what precisely drives you to anger. Embrace the discomfort and vulnerability. Only through discomfort can you find the hidden anger causes of which you are generally unaware.
We Miss The Signs
Anger can feel like it’s coming out of nowhere because so much of the anger process happens in our subconscious. Some research says we live our lives on auto-pilot up to 70% of the time on average. That’s a lot of time for a lot to happen. If you notice yourself being angry at an intense level, your anger has been building up for a long time in advance of you noticing it. Work to reverse engineer the situation you’re in. Can you identify what you were feeling just before you noticed your anger? If you can notice earlier steps in your anger, you can catch yourself sooner and find earlier anger signs.
It All Starts With Self Awareness
Mindfulness and awareness work could help you figure out what your triggers are and notice them before you’re at the point of rage. You can get control. But controlling anger when it’s intense is virtually futile. Meditating or counting to ten when you’re experiencing intense anger may be like putting a bandage on a bullet wound. Be realistic about setting expectations for yourself. And don’t give up on an intervention because it doesn’t work when you’re at your worst. Like working out a muscle, you need to start small and give each technique a chance before you will see results. Mindfulness is a powerful technique and it takes time. A lack of mindfulness is a huge driver for anger.
Finally, the simplest reason behind anger is that we don’t express our underlying issues. We often suppress anger. We’re so good at suppressing it, we can spiral into intense anger without even knowing there is something else to express. BUT if/when we express our underlying needs, anger can be an unnecessary step. Similar to a boiling pot of water, you can’t keep a lid on emotions indefinitely. No matter the emotion, expression is necessary. Always see anger as a sign that you need to dig deeper and express what is at your core.