Emotional Work

Day 1274 and Anger is Secondary

I am in a pocket of emotions today that I’m working through by writing. I’ve been told that anger is what’s called a secondary emotion.

Some metaphors that are helpful to understanding what is meant by a “secondary emotion” are thinking of anger as a boiling cauldron or a volcano. What you see isn’t the whole picture. It is the steam coming off something deeper. If you prefer cooler (literally) metaphor, the Gottman Institute calls it the Anger Iceberg.

The Anger Iceberg via Choosing Therapy from the Gottman Institute.

I am unsure what mix of feelings are making up my roiling cauldron. I’m struggling to feel them as chilly like an iceberg. The heat of it feels closer to my current experience than something frozen. But you get the picture. Looking underneath is important.

And underneath the anger disappointment, hurt, and frustration are all emotions I can “touch” as I explore ny feelings. But it’s underneath a roiling boiling mess that is only clear in glimpses.

I imagine I’m not the only one who struggles to see where the primary emotions. The optimism I have temperamentally abuts against a shared reality that feels angry.

I intend to watch a debate between two unpopular geriatric candidates for President of the United States of America. Of course being angry about that is secondary to a host of other more salient emotions. We must reach. It is crucial to reach those emotions if we desire to change as a nation.