Why do I have a sudden outburst of anger when someone triggers me?

Why do I have a sudden outburst of anger when someone triggers me?

Updated: Apr 28, 2022

Anger, frustration and annoyed are on a spectrum of the same emotional experience. They are umbrella terms for a more specific feeling. If your anger is triggered, we need to go a level deeper in understanding ourselves to determine the actual experience. Some examples of things that make us “angry” are feeling:

  1. Disrespected
  2. Betrayed
  3. Unappreciated
  4. Physically/Emotionally Hurt
  5. Belittled
  6. Unheard/Misunderstood
  7. Embarrased
  8. Powerless
  9. Overwhelmed
  10. Inadequate
  11. and dozens of other experiences

So, really it is any one of the above emotions that are causing the angry outburst. The anger is a protective response to help us feel less vulnerable and to help us regain control over our vulnerability. With this said, strong angry reactions are an illusion of control. People with anger management problems have not learned how to control feelings of vulnerability by using healthy coping skills. So, the control that they are trying to exhibit through anger is actually a complete lack of control. Example: While driving someone cuts in front of you. The internal thought may be, “what a jerk”. The unspoken/unrealized emotion may be “that guy/gal doesn’t respect my space” or “I can’t handle dealing with an accident right now” or “that was scary”. We respond with a dirty look, a selected hand gesture or by yelling. We exhibit complete lack of control when we resort to road rage. The angry response makes us feel that we have control by “getting revenge”, but this is really an example of losing control of a healthy response.

Side Note: Some people have even reported to me that they enjoy feeling of anger, since it is an adrenaline rush.

What does this have to do with Shame? The specific feeling that triggers the anger can vary from person to person based on where their own specific vulnerabilities lie. The vulnerability is often rooted in Shame. When we are “shamed” (check some of the feelings above) we will respond with anger. Learning what emotions press our “shame button” will assist us in better understanding what triggers our anger and how to heal from the shameful feeling. Example: Your boss at work gives one negative feedback on your yearly review. The “shame button” that may be hit is that feeling of “I’m not good enough, no matter how hard I try”. This may subconsciously trigger a childhood insecurity from being bullied or feeling that you are living in the shadow of a sibling.



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