We now know the typical sequence of anger starts with a ‘trigger’ usually a situation or a statement made by another person. Then comes a series of thoughts (perhaps, “what did I ever do to him?” or “why is he doing this to me?”) followed by a belief about those thoughts (“This is so unfair”) and finally the feeling of hurt and betrayal that accompanies those beliefs.
After all the thinking or ‘self-talk’ as therapists call it- comes the behaviour, either over actions like shouting, blowing up, hitting or breaking objects, or inward actions like sulking and brooding.
Workplace studies have shown that in many cases anger is in fact a secondary emotion. It is triggered by some other unpleasant feeling which comes first, but is hard to identify because the anger arises so quickly.
Consultants have found that the most common of these triggers are hurt, fear, powerlessness, a sense of betrayal, jealousy and frustration.