Day 2: ANGER (The July “I Believe…” Challenge)

by Dani Fake Webb on July 2, 2010

(If you’re new to this challenge, take a look at the intro video explaining the concept.
You can get more details on how to participate.
And click here for the daily categories.)

Today’s Category: Anger

I encourage you to comment on this post about what you believe about anger. 😈

What I believe about anger:

The very word “anger” can get your attention. Think about it. When you hear the word “anger,” or hear that someone is angry, or even when you learned of today’s topic, there is a visceral response. A hyper-awareness.

At least for me.

I believe anger is powerful.
I believe anger can be scary.
I believe unexpressed/undealt with anger is unhealthy, and can lead to depression and other undesired states.

But mostly, I believe anger is a secondary emotion. If you explore deep enough, you will find that at the root of anger is fear, sadness, or hurt.

The emotions of fear, sadness and hurt have a quality that anger does not: vulnerability. With anger, vulnerability is not required. And yet….yet. Anger always points to a more vulnerable emotion.

I was talking with a friend this week about my thoughts on anger. She told me of a situation in which she had gotten angry because someone had disrespected her. We pondered the idea of anger and its role in protecting vulnerability. Though it wasn’t blatantly clear at first, after some brave searching on her part, she was able to consider another reason for her anger: fear of not mattering, of being abandoned.

Much. More. Vulnerable.

This belief has allowed me to have much more compassion on people when they are angry. It has allowed me to have much more compassion on myself for my own anger. Now, when I see anger, I try to see the vulnerability behind it. I am not always successful (after all, anger can be scary!), but I try to have this awareness in my quest to “love my neighbor.”

I challenge you….

1) When you are angry, can you consider what might be the more vulnerable emotion underneath your anger?
2) When you are in the presence of someone else’s anger, can you be curious about the more vulnerable emotion underneath their anger?*

*NOTE: Anger can be dangerous and damaging! I am NOT suggesting that in the midst of that kind of anger you be “curious.” Get safe first.

Bottom line: Anger is a secondary emotion protecting our most vulnerable places.

It can be a soul-saving, action-producing defense mechanism in its best form, and it can be an Authentic-Self killing, life-deadening vice in its worst forms.

Let it guide you, teach you. Don’t let it kill you.

Until next time, may you love your life today.


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July 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristin Zetterholm July 2, 2010 at 12:52 pm
Kristin Zetterholm July 2, 2010 at 12:55 pm

P.S. I think the comments should work now!

Kirk Webb July 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Anger makes me mad!

I believe that anger is sometimes honorable when something glorious has been compromised or damaged. However, most anger is our response to feeling threatened. We cling tightly to those beliefs and behaviors that we think are going to “save” us, and when those controlled ways of living are threatened then we feel anger. It’s similar to the “fight” mechanism in the fight-flight response. Those of us evolved creatures with big brains should consider anger as a signpost pointing to our own tenacious belief that we can actually control life. That kind of control is an illusion that we all believe on some level. Anger is a grand opportunity to see where we demand control, to loosen our grip, and to seek a greater peace that isn’t based on control.

Karen Lambert July 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

For me, I know exactly what the underlying emotion behind my anger is, because things don’t normally bother me too much. But if I’m hurt – or feel reject – or have my boundaries extremely violated – wow, do I get angry. This very week, someone I cared about very much hurt me to the core and my response was first bitter sadness – then rage. Absolutely wanting to kill them because, I guess, I was so hurt but also felt very out of control over the situation. I don’t know if anger “protects” my vulnerability, but I think it helps deal with it.

Laura Neff - Life Leadership Coach July 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Love love love your post, Dani. Thank you for it.

Mine’s up!

Renae C. July 2, 2010 at 5:01 pm
lucy July 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

In talking of anger, I want to focus on something Kirk touched upon, and that is the times when not only is anger justifiable but a necessary conduit to action. I believe if we do not allow anger to take over and control us, that it can be a vehicle for change. When anger arises, it can be an indicator that something is off and needs to be addressed – often times in the form of some sort of humanitarian injustice, whether it be a personal injustice, or an injustice towards another individual or society. Even the peace nobel laureate, Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who’s message is one of peace and atonement, says, “there may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” I think that it may be initial anger and contempt that leads us to want to protest and defend those (or ourselves) who are being downtrodden.

Dani Fake Webb July 2, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Ugg…sorry you had that happen Karen. :(

Jennifer July 3, 2010 at 6:15 am


You expressed your belief about anger so succinctly. I will be posting in a little while; hopefully I don’t let it influence my stated belief too much.


Jennifer July 3, 2010 at 6:52 am

I believe anger is developing for me.

I lived with two parents who were extremely angry: one raged while the other buried. It is a story for another day. However, I grew up fearful of many things, but the biggest fear was anger, both mine and others. See, if someone was angry at me, what did that mean? How much was it going to affect me? Anger was to be avoided at all times. I was so busy worried about others’ anger that I basically eliminated mine. But that was the hitch. I buried it and the underlying feelings driving it (see Dani’s post above) deep down. I started to turn to food as a sedative.

Now I believe that anger is based on a person’s belief about a circumstance (state or occurrence beyond one’s control). Many times fear is the driving emotion. Anger tends to be an emotion for the first round. As it dissipates, the underlying ones start to surface.

I believe in righteous anger and yet I am fearful of it at the same time. It can be used for honorable purposes that end up making the world a better place, such as MADD and the movement for tougher laws based on Brady’s shooting. On the other hand, religious fanaticism and politics have too much at times, it seems to me.

Thank you.

Melissa Foster Cook July 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Dani, I LOVE your post on anger. I so agree and you wrote it so beautifully!!

My post on anger:

chicsinger simone July 4, 2010 at 12:26 am

I am a day behind but here goes:

I believe anger is red, root chakra gone awry, fear imploded on itself and stuffed into too small a box. I rarely allow myself to feel anger but I believe it can be cleansing, channeled into productivity or other action that can be beneficial. I think I am afraid of anger, that if I express anger people will not “like” me and that would be bad. Often I feel that anger is pointless (acid corrodes the vessel) and move straight through it to sadness or regret or hopelessness (anger won’t change anything).

I have a hard time releasing anger, whereas some friends and other family members seem to be able to express it and let it go and act as if nothing has happened. Words (or actions) expressed in anger stay with me a long time and upset me. I think I put too much value on “being nice” and not making waves so anger is a difficult subject/emotion for me.

Kaitlin July 4, 2010 at 5:40 am

I believe anger (or any other strong emotion, for that matter) is rarely constructive when taken on its own; it must serve as an alert to some underlying issue that needs addressing and the passion must be channelled into something positive. I believe cruelty can never be condoned by anger.

Laurie July 4, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Many of us grow up believing that experiencing anger is a sign of weakness or flaw. When we expressed our anger as children, we received disapproving looks or even worse. Often when we experience anger, we have a tendency to think, “Something must be wrong with me.” Experiencing anger, however, is not only natural but healthy.

Because anger is natural, we must give ourselves permission to experience it. In Positive Pyschologist Tal Ben-Shahar’s words, we must give ourselves “permission to be human.” We pay a heavy price when we suppress our so-called negative emotions; we jeopardize our mental and physical well-being. We also jeopardize our ability to experience positive emotions. When we suppress negative emotions, we inadvertently suppress positive emotions as well.

There is nothing wrong about feeling anger. Acting hurtfully or otherwise inappropriately based on anger may very well be wrong, but experiencing anger is neither good nor bad. It just is. Rather than judging our anger, it is important to accept it for what it is. It is an inevitable part of our human nature.

If we suppress our anger, it will fester and possibly lead to disease or inappropriate behavior. According to Tal Ben-Shahar, people who suppress their anger are more likely to behave in a hurtful manner. When anger is properly channeled, it can lead to positive action. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers is a good example of this.

The question isn’t whether it is good or bad to experience anger. The question is “What do I do with my anger?” or “How can I channel my anger toward a positive end?” In the future when we experience anger, we can help ourselves by being present in the experience and allowing the anger to flow through us. The pain will not go away, but it will become manageable. We also can help ourselves by learning the lessons our anger has for us – lessons about strength, transformation, empathy, and compassion.

We are human beings, and anger is a basic part of our nature. If we deny our anger, we can’t be who we really are. In order to live authentically, we must give ourselves permission to be human.

Cain July 6, 2010 at 12:45 am

Anger is an emotion I have experienced for various reasons throughout my life. I have always been the type of person to suppress my anger because I have been raised that it is “just not polite.” I don’t think I was ever told this, but I somehow picked up on the social implications.

In the past few years I have been searching to find the voice that would allow me to express the anger I felt, to protest when I knew I was been treated unjustly. For me finding this voice has come easier with age, maybe its hormones or maybe it’s that I am more sure of myself and my right to express and honor this true emotion that I am feeling.

I believe acknowledging anger and using it to create change can be powerful, that justice can come from expressing anger. I am also aware that expressing anger for the sake of expressing it can also be very alienating.

WinneratLife July 8, 2010 at 1:36 am

I believe anger is unsafe/scary – to have directed at you from others and to feel. While I realize this isn’t true and it’s something I’ve worked for years to change, it IS a belief I learned growing up and has been a hard one to overcome.

One of my parents had an issue with anger and more often than not it led to violence, so at a very early age I became nearly sick with fear any time I was around anyone that would get angry. And it scared me to be angry, too, because I was sure on some level it would lead to only bad things. Because of this, for most of my life I’ve suppressed or internalized anger and even now, at 40, I have a hard time honestly and directly discussing or expressing my feelings when something makes me angry and will get very tense, anxious and sometimes even nauseous if someone gets angry with me.

Realizing that anger is typically a mask for fear or hurt helps take the charge off it. As does recognizing that sometimes anger has a very real and valuable purpose and can be used constructively to effect change without resorting to violence.

Thanks for the post and the “I believe” challenge! I think it’s going to be a real growth experience for me.

Dani Fake Webb July 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Hormones? That cracked me up!!

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