Anger: What’s the Underlying Message?

Everyone experiences anger from time to time, it is a natural human emotion. It is important to learn how to calm our anger with breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and spending time with the natural world. However, there is often an underlying message which we need to hear and understand.

The reasons for our anger can be numerous. Here is a short list.

  • Not getting what we want or need
  • The experience of feeling victimised
  • Feeling manipulated
  • Being used or abused, whether physically, psychologically or emotionally
  • Feeling powerless and not being able to assert ourselves
  • Not living in accordance with our own values.
  • Constant worry or concern over things we have no control
  • Fear, whether it’s fear of the future or dread that the past will catch up with us, resulting in suppressing guilt and/or shame
  • An oversensitive dispostion to constructive feedback or criticism which tends to trigger unresolved issues

Anger can result from the sense of not being seen, heard or understood. When this happens, we must reflect on whether or not we have clearly expressed ourselves. We might not be angry for the reason we think. It would therefore be a good idea to listen more deeply to ourselves.

Anger is an emotional reaction and we do not want to blindly act on it, but there is often an underlying feeling or message. Anger often points to a boundary violation whether by another or by ourselves. It points to an objection, a “no!”, if you will, to something or someone; and underneath the “no!” will be a “yes” to a greater degree of self-honour. Therefore, there is an integrity hidden in our anger that has not been heard, expressed or honoured, at least not by ourselves, and the ongoing suppression of our integrity can result in self-betrayal which leads to anger.

But how do we express our integrity and stay in good relationships with others, especially when we feel it might upset them? This is not easy. Too often, many try to do the “right thing” or try to please others in order to be liked while ignoring their own integrity. Can we trust that our integrity is both honouring of ourselves and others? Let’s borrow the wisdom of Shakespeare: ‘to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.’ There is power in our integrity, power for authenticity and therefore power for more genuine relationships which leads to connection; but left buried and unexpressed, it both leads to anger and becomes confused with anger and the gift of connection is witheld. If we are afraid of our anger, we may become afraid of our own power and integrity. We need to learn to differentiate the two.

If we listen with care, attentiveness, receptivity and acceptance, there may be a jewel hidden in our anger. As with all emotions, there is an energy in our anger with the potential for transformation.