Do You Know the 4th Source of Anger?

Since we all experience the secondary emotion of anger, it’s important for our emotional health and overall well-being to know the primary sources of anger.

There are three sources of anger—plus one.

1. Frustration

When we’re thwarted in achieving a goal, we get frustrated, which can lead to anger. Like trying to be somewhere on time in heavy traffic. This can lead to feeling anger toward other drivers or ourselves for not leaving earlier. Simply put, we feel mad because we’re frustrated.

2. Hurt

When wounded by the words or actions of someone whose opinion matters, we can experience anger. “How dare he say such a thing!?” and “Who does she think she is!?” are angry questions born out of hurt.

3. Loss

Whether it’s “corporate downsizing” that results in job loss or the loss of a loved one, anger is a natural result. The loss of what we value and didn’t want to lose, can make some rail against God or people.

Okay, before we share the 4th source of anger, a few QBQ! thoughts:

The Question Behind the Question (QBQ) was designed two decades ago to keep humans out of three dangerous traps:

  • Blame
  • Victim Thinking
  • Procrastination

We’ll put off to a later time the exploration of procrastination (ha ha). And let’s just touch briefly on blame before moving onto our 4th source.

When we feel angry, it’s easy to lash out by asking blame-oriented Incorrect Questions (IQs) such as, “Who made the mistake?” and “Who dropped the ball?” The “Who” in each IQ represents the seeking of a culprit, and as we write in Outstanding! hunting for culprits is the wrong thing to do.

But when we’re angry, it’s an easy thing to do. So blame is actually a result of anger, not a source of anger.

The 4th source of anger: Victim Thinking

If I become dependent on the government to take care of me cradle to grave, my employer to provide me safety and security, or a parent, spouse, or friend to enable me when I make poor choices, victim thinking will flourish in me.

And anger easily flows from that state of mind. Why? Well, what if I don’t “get what I deserve”? What happens then?

People who view themselves as victims are often angry.

Now, back to QBQ! 

I’ve found that for some readers the QBQ! book is only about outstanding customer service, thanks to its “Jacob and the Diet Coke” story. Or teamwork, because QBQ! helps people stop asking the IQ, “When will others pull their weight?” and switch to a QBQ like, “What can I do to contribute to the team?”

Customer service and teamwork are worthy, of course, but they also fall into the “feel good” category. 

At its core, QBQ! is about PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY. This means choosing to be 100% accountable for my career, results, income, children (if I am a parent), relationships, joy, and happiness.

Does admitting, though, that I wallow in victimhood because I’ve become dependent on my government, employer, or family feel good?


Yet neither does the anger that comes when I believe people and organizations don’t give me, support me, care for me, or love me enough.

And who wants to live in a constant state of anger?!?

I don’t. And I bet you don’t, either.

So let’s make this PAC (Personal Accountability Commitment) with each other right now:

I promise to begin to eliminate all forms of victim thinking from my life.

And “begin” is appropriate because if I’ve allowed an I deserve! mentality to take root, I won’t eradicate it today.

But I can start.

Will you join me?


What are the costs of choosing victimhood? 

How does society support becoming dependent and/or victim thinking? Examples?

Can one believe in PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY/QBQ! and still support politicians, policies, and programs that encourage dependence?

Here is another QBQ! blog on victim thinking.

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7 Responses

  1. John, after reading this article, it seems like there may only be one source of anger and that is victim thinking. After all, being frustrated, feeling hurt, and dwelling on the negative aspects of loss are a result of victim thinking. When we rid ourselves of victim thinking, we can also rid ourselves of these three sources of anger.

  2. Aaaaaaaamen John!

    I’ve been angry my entire life. You hit the nail on the head. When I blame, ask why me, and pity myself, the anger BOILS up inside of me.

    When I ask “what should I do now?” There is no anger. None.

    That IS the source of all my anger…that I feel helpless rather than empowered.

  3. Part of Websters definition: 1. A violent passion of the mind excited by a real or supposed injury; usually accompanied with a propensity to take vengeance, or to obtain satisfaction from the offending party. This passion however varies in degrees of violence, and in ingenuous minds, may be attended only with a desire to reprove or chide the offender.

    Sometimes the injustice or injury is real and invokes anger. Anger is not the problem but how we respond.

    Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
    Proverbs 16:32 He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

    God is righteous and is rightfully angered by sin.
    Psalms 7:11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.

    There is injustice and sin in the world that should anger us. How we deal with that emotion is often our problem.

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