Where Does Anger Come From?

Anger is a secondary emotion. This means that there is an underlying emotion that comes before anger.  We generally don’t notice this first emotion, but we definitely notice the anger when it rears its ugly head shortly thereafter. 

All emotions serve an important purpose. Often anger serves to defend ourselves: to make ourselves seem larger and more intimidating (in the evolutionary, primal sense).  Anger comes when we feel small, vulnerable, or uncertain.  It’s usually about something to do with ourselves; something we are feeling about what we are doing.  It is rarely really about the other person’s annoying behavior, because if you think about it, not every obnoxious person bothers us, it only bothers us when our own insecurity is triggered.  Previously, anger may have been more adaptive for humans, however in current times it usually makes one appear out of control and “crazy” or if you’re a woman, “a crazy bitch.” 

I’ve never been so angry as earlier today.  Walking with two newborn twins in an unfamiliar stroller that I haven’t yet mastered, I feel protective of my babies and very vulnerable.  A truck honked several times as I was crossing the street and the pedestrian light turned from green to red.  It was raining and I was already wondering if I had taken the kids out for too long of a walk and feeling wet and cold myself.  When that man in the truck honked and yelled out his window, I lost it.  I never respond to road rage normally, but today I was feeling so vulnerable, small in the traffic, and uncertain if I was being a “good enough mother” that i let the anger get the best of me.  I roared at him for honking and not watching out for us, so of course he called back, “crazy bitch!”.  I was angry because he was calling me out on what I already was wondering myself;  I should watch out for my kids better.

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