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3 Shocking Truths About Anger

3 Shocking Truths About Anger Blog Post

In the Old Testament book of Genesis, chapter 4, we encounter two brothers, Cain and Abel. It was customary to bring offerings to God, the “first fruits” of one’s harvest, as a sign of devotion and gratitude. Both brothers presented their offerings to God. However, God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. This rejection was not without reason but reflected the heart and intent behind each offering.

Cain’s reaction to God’s rejection illustrates how anger can often be a secondary emotion arising from deeper, unaddressed feelings. Instead of reflecting within and considering whether his heart was not in the right place when he made his offering, Cain allowed his initial feelings of hurt and offense to grow. Feeling wronged by God’s rejection, he misdirected his anger towards his brother Abel, whom he blamed for his rejected offering.

This narrative goes deeper into the human psyche, revealing how unresolved hurt and offense can transform into intense anger. Cain’s inability to confront and understand his primary emotions—hurt, disappointment, perhaps even feelings of inadequacy—led to a tragic escalation. Cain’s unresolved emotions manifested in the ultimate act of violence through the murder of his brother Abel.

This story highlights the importance of recognizing and addressing the root causes of our anger. By understanding anger as a secondary emotion, we can begin to unravel the complex web of feelings that drive us towards irrational and sometimes devastating actions. In doing so, we learn the critical lesson that facing and processing our primary emotions is essential for emotional growth, spiritual maturity, and the prevention of harm to ourselves and others.

3 shocking truths about anger and the first truth addresses your flight or flight response.

Let’s explore three things about anger that you may not know:

It starts with the Amygdala (uh-MIG-duh-luh)

The amygdala is a small, almond-shaped part of the brain located deep inside the brain’s temporal lobes. Imagine it as the brain’s alarm system. Its main job is to help us react to things that might be dangerous or threatening. When it comes to anger, the amygdala plays a significant role. It acts very quickly if it thinks we’re facing a threat, setting off a reaction in our body that gets us ready to either fight back or run away—often called the ‘fight or flight’ response.

When the amygdala senses danger, it doesn’t take time to think things through. Instead, it immediately tells our body to release stress hormones, like adrenaline, making our heart beat faster and getting our muscles ready for action. This happens before our brain’s thinking part, the prefrontal cortex, has a chance to weigh in and decide whether the threat is real or how we should calmly handle the situation.

Simply put, the amygdala can make us angry very quickly, often before we fully understand why we’re angry or think about the best response. That’s why sometimes we may react in anger in situations that, after taking a moment to think about them, we realize weren’t as big a deal as our immediate reaction made them seem. Understanding this about the amygdala can help us learn to pause and give our brain’s thinking part a chance to catch up so we can handle our anger in a more thoughtful and less reactive way.


Anger is an OUTWARD expression of an INWARD emotion. 

Anger is like a red flag waving, showing us that something deeper is going on inside us. Think of it as the tip of an iceberg—what you see on the surface is just a small part of a much bigger picture hidden underneath.

For example, if your partner makes a comment that hurts your feelings, your anger might really be about feeling disrespected or worried that you’re not good enough. It’s like your anger is trying to protect you from these scary feelings by putting up a tough front.

Or, if you get passed over for a promotion for someone with less experience, the anger you feel might be hiding your fear of being stuck or feeling invisible. It’s not just about missing out on a job; it’s about wanting to be seen and appreciated for your hard work.

When rumors or mean words spread among friends, anger can actually be about feeling betrayed or afraid of being alone. It’s like putting on armor to guard against the pain of these deep cuts.

So, anger isn’t just about getting mad. It’s a sign that something important to us is being threatened or hurt. It’s a chance to ask ourselves, “What’s really bothering me here?” Understanding our anger can help us deal with the real issues and move forward. It’s about peeling back the layers to find out what we really need or are afraid of and then dealing with that. By doing this, we can learn a lot about ourselves and start to heal and grow in new ways.


Anger is a secondary emotion that stems from hurt. 

As it turns out, anger is rarely a lone traveler; it’s a vessel carrying a cargo of hurt.

This isn’t about assigning blame or wallowing in what-ifs. It’s about recognizing that beneath anger, there are undercurrents of more vulnerable, more genuine emotions. Identifying these can lead to understanding, healing, and, ultimately, a place where we can respond rather than react. 

When we continue to express secondary emotions, we will have secondary reactions that will make us beg for second chances.

We’ve all had those ‘I wish I would’ve’ situations. 

Instead of telling someone in your life off because of something they did, you wish you had communicated to them in another way, and now you’ve lost that relationship. 

We aren’t advanced enough as a human race to have a time machine, so until then, we have to work on things the old-fashioned way. We learn from our mistakes and move forward, aiming not to repeat them. The hurt your words may have caused someone may still linger, but you can work on intentionally soothing that wound. 

These are all great questions to ask ourselves! Remember how we mentioned that anger is a secondary emotion that stems from hurt? Good, you were paying attention. So, if what we’re genuinely feeling is hurt, responding by showing someone the truth that we are hurt might help.

one of the three shocking truths about anger is that if we're not careful we'll end up playing a lengthy game with ourselves, becoming exhausted by our every move.

Consider this scenario:

Your wife walks in the door and immediately starts complaining about how you never clean the house and how she has to do everything. Your typical reaction might be to retaliate, emphasizing how hard you work to provide for the family and that you deserve some downtime. You might also add a few more colorful words to your response.

What if, instead, we approached it with transparency?

“Honey, when you say those things, it hurts me because it feels like you don’t value my contribution to our family.” Doesn’t that sound like a response that could actually lead to a resolution instead of sparking an argument?

Instead of impulsively reacting out of anger, we must acknowledge the underlying emotions behind our anger.

I know it may sound idealistic, similar to a scenario from ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and sometimes it might seem unreasonable, but being intentional about changing how you react in situations where you’ve been wronged or feel hurt can profoundly impact your relationships for the rest of your life.

I’ll say it again: In life, when we continue to express secondary emotions, we end up with secondary reactions that leave us yearning for second chances.

Taking the time to assess your true feelings and expressing them, rather than reacting in anger, can be the key difference between a family that stays united and one that falls apart.

Thanks for reading.


This blog post was written by Jon Thies, Director of Business Operations at Family ID.