three questions to ask ourselves when we get angry :
1.what am I telling myself right now?
2.what else could be true?
3. which values and needs are at stake for me?
Sometimes the REASON for our ANGER is not immediately clear to us, and we may feel that it's not justified. But if we look closer, often there is a subtle boundary violation anger is trying to make us aware of. So it's worth paying attention to arising anger.
Anger arises when boundaries are violated or in danger to be violated. These boundaries can be ours or those of others, a community and concern self esteem, freedom of choice, safety, health, social position, and more.
What steps in with anger is our alertness for urgency and a call for possibly needed actions. anger is the alarm bell and a warning, that something isn't quite right and needs attention and to be addressed.
If your anger usually reaches scary levels, you have probably not payed attention to the earlier and finer calls that tried to catch your attention. anger is actually a reliable but 'sleeping' sentinel, permanently on the watch out, but not really keen to go to the extremes. healthy anger stays within the boundaries and doesn't go into "action" unless unmistakably needed.
The greatest difficulty around anger is the misunderstanding of anger being already "the answer", instead of seeing it as a messenger and a call for reflection.
This misunderstanding can lead to uncontrolled expression of the emotion itself, in inappropriate words and actions, instead of the needed inquiry of the underlying boundary violation.
To change our perception of anger - from being the answer to being a messenger - we need to go deeper and look at the feelings and needs underneath. These underlying feelings of anger are usually fear (confusion, doubt, insecurity, suspicion, panic, shock ...) or hurt, sorrow (disappointment, heartbreak, loss, regret, grief ...).
It's important to recognize and name the exact feelings and connect them to our unmet needs. These are usually needs for safety, clarity, connection, be seen, matter, sharing, love, and more. Doing so we open up our hearts and intelligence to a greater understanding of ourselves and others and to beneficial actions.
The step though to let us 'feel what we feel' isn't an easy one, as our anger is often experienced as righteous and therefore liberating, even empowering and therefore pleasant: "it's YOU who made me so angry, my getting aggressive is YOUR deserved answer".
So, the seemingly immediate benefit of releasing frustration, makes it difficult to let go of this first impulse. And it doesn't make it easier that our letting go of anger should be in favour of the (additional) discomfort of feeling sadness, depression, loss, confusion or delusion too.
The long term rewards, however, of allowing ourselves to 'feel what we feel' and be vulnerable are increasing insight in the human nature and growing compassion, both consistently leading to a mindset and behaviours that reduce suffering - for ourselves and for others.