Anger: an instant way to handle it better
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Virginia Sherborne MBACP (Accred.)
19th December, 20120 Comments
Anger can be a frightening emotion. It can feel overwhelming and unstoppable. But there is a simple idea you can use to change anger’s effect on you. It’s called “The Anger Iceberg”.
The Anger Iceberg is any easy way to describe something really crucial about anger: it is not a ‘true’ emotion. By ‘true’, I mean that anger always kicks in after another different emotion has been triggered, so anger tends to cover over or hide the real emotion.
Imagine an iceberg: it has a small part showing above the sea but most of it is hidden under the water. The part of the Anger Iceberg you can see above the water represents Anger, but the larger, hidden bulk of the Iceberg below the water-line represents all kinds of other emotions. These can be Rejection, Fear, Shame, Injustice, Anxiety, Embarrassment, and so on. There may only be a micro-second between the ‘true’ emotion being triggered and the Anger swamping it, so it can be tricky to identify that initial feeling; but once you know to look out for it, then you can slow things down a little and try to stick with your Fear/Embarrassment/Anxiety. That means there’s a chance to address the real issue, either by letting another person know how you feel, or thinking through how you can perhaps change the situation that caused this difficult feeling.
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