Anger = Loss of Control

Anger occurs when you lose control of a situation that you perceive as a threat – mental or physical. It is driven by anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of being vulnerable and helpless. It is our deepest hard-wired program to avoid the feeling of anxiety. When a situation causes a feeling of anxiety, we exert some type of control to diminish it. When we lose or have no control, we then become angry in a final attempt to regain control. General examples of anger-producing situations are:

  • Invasion of your boundaries
    • Boss
    • Bully
    • Spouse
  • Inability to meet your basic physical needs
    • Food
    • Water
    • Air
    • Sex
    • Freedom from pain
  • Inability to meet your basic psychological needs
    • Nurture and love
    • Protection
    • Be heard
    • Control of anxiety




There is a genealogy of anger:

  • Circumstance – perceived or real
  • Blame
  • Victim
  • Anger

It doesn’t matter whether the situation is a physical mental threat, your body’s chemical stress response is similar. There is a surge of fight or flight hormones that enhances your chances of survival.

While anxiety represents feelings of helplessness, anger is a powerful feeling that covers up anxiety. Anger is the most powerful role that a human can experience. Anger results in action that can help regain control—whether the actions are admirable or not is a different discussion.  Even if it isn’t possible to regain control, anger allows you to feel like you are in control. (you can’t control your thoughts) Anger is nearly impossible to give up. Only by understanding how powerful and potentially destructive it can be will you be able to process and detach from it. Only then will you be able to let and move forward to experience a full, rich, and productive life.




For more on anger and control, see:

Listen to the Back in Control Radio podcast The Impact of Litigation on Your Pain.