What lies beneath?

4 Apr

ANGER – we sure are seeing a lot of it these days – just turn on the TV for a few minutes. What does it all mean?

Emotions are like colors.

There are primary colors – blue, red and yellow.

Secondary colors (purple, green and orange) exist only because the primary ones exist.

The same holds for emotions.

Fear, sadness and happiness are primary emotions. They are the ones that we feel first, in response to a situation.  They are reactions that we have without thinking about them. We feel them instinctively and instantly.

One of the challenges with primary emotions is that they can appear and disappear pretty quickly and be replaced by secondary emotions.

Secondary emotions involve a complex chain of thinking.

There are those who believe that anger is a primary emotion too. I feel that anger is actually results from fear or vulnerability which is felt first.

Now, I am not a psychologist, but I have thought about this a lot. And I believe that one way to find out what is underneath someone’s anger* is to ask a simple question (after acknowledging the emotion first, of course):

“I hear your anger. What is the worst possible outcome you can imagine?”

Now it’s possible that the person may be thrown off by this question, but I would bet that there is something brewing underneath that it will tap into – possibly a fear.

I think that this is a better approach than asking someone what he or she is angry about – because that only gets at the tip of the iceberg.

Just some food for thought next time someone else (or you) are angry.


* Of course you have to be very careful if you think the angry person may become violent

Print Friendly

One Response to “What lies beneath?”

  1. Tom Weber Jr. April 6, 2016 at 1:00 am #

    This was a very interesting blog. I would have to agree that anger is a secondary emotion. I know that I usually feel one of the primary emotions mentioned (usually fear) before I start thinking so much that I eventually become angry. I need to do some emotional intelligence exercises to get this under check, and resort to anger less.

    Thank you.

Leave a Reply