Anger Management Secret #3: Rage is a learned response.
Anger Is Learned
Out-of-control anger develops as a learned response to difficult and challenging situations. It becomes the place you go when everything seems too much.
What's Hidden Beneath the Anger?Almost always there is another layer of emotions beneath the anger you are consciously aware of feeling. Often there are deep feelings of hurt, humiliation, deprivation, rejection, unfairness, or sadness. Perhaps you feel invisible, alone, weak, vulnerable or powerless. These feelings often exist as the result of our childhood experiences of hurt, woundedness, neglect, or abuse.
This is often why anger feels so necessary -- these powerful feelings are incredibly intense, often terrifying. So anger is something you learned to do as a way to quickly get away from the terrible intensity of these old feelings. And it kind of works, because towering rage changes the game from defense to offense. The trouble is, it often has terrible side effects, with collateral damage to your family, friends, job, belongings etc.
It is possible, often with the support of a therapist or other trusted person, to unpack the emotions that leave you vulnerable to shifting gears into rage. You can work through the painful feelings that leave you primed for an angry explosion. When your wife uses that tone of voice with you, it's probably different than your mother's guilt-inducing words. When your boss says something about your work, it's not a repeat of your father criticizing you and making you feel worthless. When your rival at work gets the promotion you wanted, it's not just a repeat of the rich kids in town having everything their way.
It Is Possible to Change Your Angry Response
Your anger can teach you things about yourself that will help you. You can learn why and how you are vulnerable to anger. Then it is possible to make changes. You can begin to exercise your adult ability to make choices so that you are more conscious about your behavior.