Have you ever wondered why your partner is so angry? Or why your boss is? Or why do some angry people in your life are more easily provoked than others?
Angry people attack others and turn people away from them. And while all you want to do is probably leave that angry person alone, think about what might be causing it.
Here are some things that angry people may be hiding – even if they don’t realize it:
1. They are in pain
Anger is such a common replacement emotion for pain. Just think about a simple situation – for instance, you stub your toe on the table leg. It hurts, but you are not in pain, you are angry – at the table, yourself, some unfamiliar force, etc.
Now think about this simple situation on a big scale. For example, if someone lost a person they loved or someone hurt them emotionally. It’s not physical pain, but that’s exactly why it’s even more painful. It’s hidden and no one can see it and help.
Anger is a substitute for emotion. People make themselves angry because it’s easier to feel anger than pain. Anger is fueling and is making us fight while pain is hurting us and is making us slow down. Angry people may use this mechanism either consciously or unconsciously.
Being angry is a distraction from what’s really happening both for other people and for ourselves. Pain makes you constantly think about it while anger makes you focus on harming people or events that have caused this pain. It moves you from being self-focused to being focused on someone else.
It’s protective – you don’t have to feel what you are really feeling. You think about revenge instead.
Anger also gives you the feeling of self-righteousness and the power over those who have harmed you. So, next time you see an angry person, consider what’s going on in their lives. The pain that came from events or people may be making them angry.
2. Angry people want to feel self-empowered
Because anger is such a common replacement emotion for pain, it’s also a good and quick way to make us feel powerful. Some people, though, don’t feel pain but powerlessness over a situation or their lives in general.
Anger makes us energized because of the epinephrine hormone which causes a surge of energy, an adrenaline rush. This feeling is addictive because it makes you feel in control. If someone, for instance, makes you feel helpless or powerless, your response would be to feel equally powerless.
However, this is where the anger comes in and you feel in control again like a magic potion that never runs out. But this is preventing us from addressing our deepest feelings, like a mask or a smokescreen, protecting us from the feelings that we are experiencing.
For example, your boss tells you that you have made a mistake and you start to feel defeated and helpless. But, instead of addressing those feelings, you are replacing them with anger at your boss or anyone who tries to help.
It’s like a drug that gives a boost to the sense of power and invulnerability that we want to feel instead. Anger is all about compensating for our deficits.
3. People use anger as a safe way to approach relationships
We can sometimes use anger to make sure that we are safe in our close relationships. When a child’s parents are unresponsive or emotionally detached, that child will grow into an adult who is too afraid to reveal their true personality to a loved one.
They will build a defense of emotional detachment as well. Those angry people essentially want and need secure relationships that they didn’t have in childhood. However, they will never openly express this need because of the fear that their partner might respond negatively and it would make them feel abandoned and vulnerable again.
This is a primal fear of letting our guard down and getting hurt. Anger plays a protective role in creating a distance between this person and the other parties. For example, if this person has a good relationship and things seem better than usual, they will pick fights and be seemingly angry without a reason.
This way, they are pushing the other person away, getting them to withdraw because of the old wounds their parents left them with. This person can also use anger to pursue their partner if they start feeling too detached.
If anger-fueled activities were this person’s only way of getting attention in childhood, then this will be their way of getting attention in their adult life. Anger is certainly a “tip of the iceberg” emotion in all of the mentioned cases and we should learn to deal with what’s really underneath it.
4. Angry people are self-soothing
Angry people often suffer from self-perception deficits. Many of them may seem successful in their careers, but it’s the relationship factor that is truly triggering them because that’s where they fail, no matter how confident they may look.
They feel as if they are not good enough. In this case, anger acts as salvation from those feelings – norepinephrine, a hormone that acts as an analgesic, is released and activates anger. It numbs these feelings.
It covers up feelings like feeling ignored, accused, guilty, rejected, powerless and so on – even unfit for human contact. When our self-esteem is in danger, we resort to anger. People who are emotionally and psychologically healthy have other means to deal with this.
They admit that they might have some shortfalls, but that it’s okay. However, people who feel guilty about who they have no other tools to deal with this but anger.
5. It’s their defense mechanism
One of the defense mechanisms that people say Freud forgot is anger. And it is strange since it’s one of the most commonly used ways to deal with emotions that we don’t want to feel.
It’s almost like the knee-jerk to something that caused us harm.
And, in real life, anger is almost never just anger but a whole host of other emotions. We hide behind it because it’s easier because we feel powerful and in control when we really aren’t.
So, when dealing with a person in anger, think of what might be causing it – pain, guilt, sadness or some deep wounds from childhood.