Anger Problems–The Tip of the Iceberg

The emotion of anger is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for people with anger management problems.  Typically, other emotions cause difficulty for these people as well.

Many with anger problems are not as aware of other emotions as they are of anger.  Additionally, people who have trouble controlling and often try to avoid feeling other emotions that are perceived as more painful.  They often seek to suppress other emotions and not let them be known to others.  This can happen for a variety of reasons.  Some believe that other emotions such as grief, sadness and fear will be so overwhelming that they will not be able to cope with them.  Others have come to believe that certain emotions are signs of weakness or ‘breaking down’ and so efforts are made to avoid or suppress them.  Additionally, there are many cultural reasons that individuals avoid certain feelings.  Many of these have to do with the roles of men and women in our society. “Big boys don’t cry” is an example of how men have been affected by traditional messages.  “Kindness is weakness” is another.  There are more that support the notion that “being strong equals being angry or aggressive” and showing other emotions such as sadness, compassion, grief or fear is a sign of inferiority or weakness.

Many people who have trouble controlling their anger simply have a limited awareness of emotional states.  Their limited awareness prevents them from identifying the body’s signals and cues that alert us to the nature of various emotions.  It also causes misinterpretation of others’ emotional cues.  Anger management classes that teach emotional intelligence will increase awareness of emotions and the body’s cues that accompany them.

As awareness of the emotional experience grows, people with problematic anger will typically widen their awareness to include many other emotions that are related to and often underlie or support their anger.

Anger is considered to be the tip of an emotional iceberg for many.  As with icebergs in nature, the vast majority of it is submerged.  Looking deeper, with skills that improve self-awareness, people who have trouble controlling anger will find a body of other emotional sates that can trigger anger and angry behaviors.  Learning to identify these other emotions, to tolerate them and manage them successfully, will typically reduce anger and enhance anger management efforts as well.

Below is a list of other emotions that people in anger management classes have identified as directly related to their anger management problems:
• Fear
• Sadness
• Grief
• Loneliness
• Being overwhelmed
• Helplessness
• Hopelessness
• Anxiety
• Panic
• Despair
• Depression
• Feeling rejected
• Feeling abandoned
• Feeling betrayed
• Feeling

For Anger Management Classes and Battering Intervention and Prevention Program – BIPP Classes in Houston, TX call 281-477-9105 and/or send an email to

Gregory Kyles, LPC
Anger Management & Domestic Violence Institute


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