In my psych class it was argued that anger is not a primary emotion, but rather a reaction. Decades later I read “The Anger Workbook” by Dr Les Carter.* He postulates that there are three primary sources of anger
1) preservation of essential needs
2) preservation of self esteem
3) preservation of core beliefs
Essential needs is your emotional reaction after you walk into the front room and see your child playing with matches near the drapes. Self-esteem, pretty obvious. Core beliefs, now that’s where things get tricky. What beliefs, standards, values or decisions do you insist on holding onto that infuriate you when the world doesn’t meet your expectations and work that way?
Where this gets all kinds of Venn diagram-ish is with the question of how much does our self-esteem and standards of essential needs tie in with our core beliefs? That’s a simple question, but it doesn’t have a simple answer. (The important part is to ask it, not the answer.)
Fear and hatred are also strongly associated with these three. How much anger, fear and hatred stems from a person refusing to adjust his or her core beliefs about what life is when the world doesn’t live up to his/her expectations. How much anger, fear and hatred comes from the core belief that the world is out to get him/her and said person lacks the resources to handle it because of (insert reason here)? How many people are infuriated because they ‘don’t think they should have to (fill in the blank)? But more than that how many people are furious at the world — not because the world is what it is — but because the world dares to defy them?
Just a few things to consider.
*If you read this book fair warning, it is written from a Christian perspective. You can use this information as encouragement to read it or a reason to dismiss it and not read it.
Ties in with something I learned recently, anger is not a PRIMARY emotion. It comes from something, but I wasn’t sure what. This article gives me a place to start looking, and I purchased a copy of the book to learn more.
It might be as simple as “I’m not getting my way”; which also ties into the ego states from the Transactional Analysis I learned about in Sandler Selling. Inner child, nurturing adult, and critical parent. You know more about TA than I do, but I hadn’t thought about it in terms of primary emotions and anger until reading your article. So thanks.