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WHAT’S BEHIND ANGER: Emotions Associated With Feeling Angry


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Download our What’s Behind Anger poster.  Featured in Brené Brown’s, Atlas of the Heart. This free infographic illustrates that anger is often a secondary feeling to other deeper, perhaps more vulnerable emotions.  Often times, we confuse other emotions with feeling mad, enraged, or furious.  The closer we can get to naming what’s really behind anger, the closer we can get to greater self-awareness and choosing what to do next.

Therapists and researchers often classify anger as a secondary, protective emotion, which emerges from the fight-flight-freeze stress response.  However, there are also other feelings that trigger feeling angry, even if they are harder to identify.  These feelings include fear, anxiety, confusion, outrage at injustice, grief, isolation, shame, humiliation, hurt, sadness, helplessness, rejection, and loneliness.



  • Can be a useful reference when talking with students and children about feeling angry and the triggers behind it.
  • Increase emotional vocabulary.
  • Develop self-awareness.
  • Reframe a challenging experience.
  • Improve interpersonal communication.
  • Reference during mediation, small group, or individual counseling.
  • Helpful reference for families to use as visual support with children.
  • Comes in color and black and white….so you can have your students color in their own poster version, too!


We also have a free (very small) Feelings Thesaurus poster.  In addition to a fun, developmentally appropriate video lesson about the fight-flight-flee stress response.

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I love these resources! They’re trauma informed and can help educators to understand that there is more going on than just the behaviour they witness in students who are acting out or in a reactive state. It also helps students to identify and understand the reasons and meaning behind their behaviours and reactivity and allow for self-compassion and ease of shame, which ultimately leads to greater self-mastery and regulation. I love that the hard work has been done as in my role as school counsellor I don’t have time to create these myself. Thank you!!

– Collette Simpson

November 6, 2021, TPT Review



My students like to reference this after a problem. I have had many adults, too, see it in my office and it brings great discussion on how anger is a secondary emotion. Thanks!

-Sarah K.

October 3, 2021, TPT Review



Working with preschool age students, this has been a helpful reminder to me that the mad kid I see may be feeling a LOT of things under the surface.

-Casandra B.

October 11, 2021, TPT Review