Counselor?s Corner: Beneath the anger

 Have you ever been upset or angry with someone? I am sure the answer is yes. Each of us has become angry at some time in our lives. We all have been upset with other people or with circumstances in life. But of course our anger doesn’t make us peaceful or happy. Anger is really a reaction to a deeper feeling of hurt or insecurity. We are either feeling emotionally hurt or insecure when we become angry. We feel vulnerable and defenseless. But we fight from embracing these feelings. It is only in the embrace or acceptance of what is really happening within ourselves that we can appropriately deal with life. Staying angry because we are scared or hurt stops us from experiencing life and understanding other people.

Most conflicts in life result from a fear of being vulnerable with others. People in a relationship that remains constant and healthy know how to become vulnerable with one another. When anger is no longer present two people can begin to understand the pain and insecurity of one another.
A profound principle of life is to realize that anger is always a reaction to a deeper feeling. Tension, anger and frustration are three unhealthy companions that can destroy peace. And both individuals and nations attempt to use anger as a way of avoiding vulnerable feelings. 
When I look beneath my anger and experience my pain and fear, I free myself. When I can share this vulnerability with others, I help myself and others to become free. Other people have nothing to fear from me because they know exactly what is going on inside of me. It is the same with nations. 
Anger creates enemies, personal enemies and collective national enemies. But the anger is always a cover up of something deeper that needs to be felt and expressed. Anger causes a person and a country to perceive God as someone who punishes, condemns and rejects those who see things differently. Anger makes God very small and vindictive. Anger makes governments small and vindictive. The sad reality is that no one wants to be around an angry person or an angry government or angry political party. The three amigos of anger, frustration and tension need to hang around other people who feel angry, frustrated and tense. These new found friends then band together to condemn the evils of the world with no solution except more anger, condemnation and finally war. Of course, in this angry togetherness any positive ideas of care, compassion, humility or sharing what I have with the rest of the world is ridiculed, satirized and rationalized away. Anger controls the decisions to avoid how fearful and vulnerable we feel. It becomes almost impossible to attempt to see what you might be really feeling inside or what your emotional wounds might be. My mind is made up. My anger is justified. You are the enemy and I have the truth.
 Much unhappiness in life results from a refusal to experience our deeper feelings. When I stifle my hurt, run from my fears, and block my compassion toward others, I become the God of Justice and the Avenger of evil. Seeing a God or Higher Power as a person of Love, Forgiveness, Compassion and Persistent Kindness toward all is not part of my religion anymore. When I fail to look underneath my anger, I lose my freedom and put myself into an emotional prison that can only see life as black or white, good or bad. In this prison it becomes almost impossible to embrace my own pain, become humble, and treat myself and everyone else with gentle compassion and a consistent desire and effort to understand your pain. 
We are all in pain, both our friends and our enemies. When I embrace the depths of my own pain and insecurities I can begin to see who you really are and I can have compassion and loving feelings toward you. Anger creates conflict. Conflict creates anger. Humility disarms. Love disarms. Honesty with my inner self allows me to want to understand you and reach out to you. It also puts me in a place where I can finally allow myself to be embraced by the love of others and the Love of God. But it can be fearful to be this vulnerable. If I embrace this fear I can change the world into a better place.
Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

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