Articles: Core Emotional Issues

Your Core Emotional Issues And How They "Generate" Your Anger

Core Emotional Issues 

Why People Find It Difficult To Eliminate Their Anger


Each of us have “Core Emotional Issues”.  These are things that are the most emotionally important things to us as an individual.  Our core emotional issues are the main things that we get angry about.  And, although each of us has our own smaller “favorite” set of core emotional issues, these emotional issues seem to be universal across all of humanity.


It is our individual personalities combined with our life experiences that determine what will be a core emotional issue for each of us.  And, often there are times when more than one of our core issues is involved in a given life situation.  When one or more core emotional issues are violated, almost all of us get very angry about it, immediately and automatically.

The good news is that you don't have to stop at just learning how to control anger, manage anger, deal with anger, or how to avoid anger situations.  You can in fact come to understand and eliminate your anger reactions to your own core emotional issues as soon as you are ready to make the necessary changes.  To do this, you must learn specifically how to change your thinking and beliefs about the issue or issues involved, and then actually change the wrong thinking and beliefs. Following is a list of 19 “popular” core emotional issues that people commonly get angry about.  In many cases, like in the true stories that are in my new book "Anger Elimination", more than one core emotional issue gets violated in any given anger situation.  And, the more important the relationship or situation, the more likely that anger will result from violations.


1.  A personal core moral or ethical strength being questioned or not believed  Many of us are very emotionally sensitive about our moral or ethical strengths such as honesty, respect for others, conscientiousness, kindness, helpfulness, etc.  So when these are questioned or not believed, it can easily lead to anger.

2.  Being used, tricked, deceived by someone   There are many different types of this, such as dishonesty by cab drivers, repairmen, insurance agents, automobile salesmen, someone we are dating, a work associate, etc.

3.  Prejudice and Discrimination   This sort of thing happens for many different reasons including, but not limited to, age, gender, race, religion, etc.  I have personally experienced prejudice and discrimination for each of these reasons, both privately and in work settings.  And the greater the importance of what was at risk, the more likely that I got angry about it.

4.  Violation of Trust   I generally prefer to trust people or give them the benefit of the doubt rather than to mistrust them initially.  Before I learned to assess individual trustworthiness, I made a lot of mistakes of trusting people more than they were mature enough to fulfill.  And those violations of trust often led to anger.  The more important the person or situation is to us the more likely that violation of trust will lead to anger.


5.  Abuse of power   I learned many years ago that most people, when given a little power that affects other people, tend to abuse that power.  Since then, I have observed that this is true.  I suppose that happens because those individuals have little other power or control in their lives, or they have saved up a lot of bad emotions from being controlled or abused by others themselves.  It is also at times related to the person’s low self esteem.  That is they try to elevate themselves by controlling diminishing others.

6.  Broken promises   This happens in buying and selling transactions, in business dealings, in work relationships, and in family settings.  Anger over broken promises is often learned early in life because of parents not keeping their promises to their children.  And anger is often most severe about broken promises in love and spousal relationships, because those relationships are the most important ones to us.

7.  Disrespect toward you, a friend, or loved one   Everyone needs respect.  It hurts to be thought of as inferior by someone that we care about.  And, if we see a friend or loved one disrespected, we naturally get angry in their defense.

8.  Being physically, vocally, financially, sexually, or emotionally abused/bullied   Probably most of us were abused or bullied in some way when we were children.  And so, that sets us up to get angry about it from the many and often more subtle forms of abuse that we encounter as adults.  Many of us have been bullied or abused by our siblings, relatives, school bullies, or even our parents.  As adults, many of us have been bullied or abused in some way by supervisors, bosses others who have some power or authority over us.  If we have ever sold anything like our car to someone much more experienced, before we had much experience about people taking advantage of us, we may well have been financially abused by them.  And certainly, there are many of us who have felt financially abused by the steadily increasing taxes that we are compelled to pay.

9.  A friend,  loved one, or innocent person being threatened, harmed, or abused   Would you get angry if your child’s teacher punished her for smiling too much;  If your child’s coach humiliated him in front of his teammates for some sports mistake?  If a relative of yours was indicted or convicted for a crime that he did not commit?  If a driver seriously threatened or harmed your family members from reckless or DUI driving?  If you discovered that the spouse of your sibling or child was committing adultery?  If your child was harshly treated by a truant officer or other school authority for something someone else had done?  If a friend or loved one was repeatedly and cruelly sexually, emotionally, or physically abused by someone?  If almost all politicians of any major political party lie, lie, lie, conceal and deceive, just to get elected?

10.  Your property being carelessly or purposefully lost, damaged, or stolen  Have you ever trusted someone to act for you to buy something or care for something that you value, and they did a bad job of it?  Have you ever let someone use something that you valued and they damaged it?  Have you ever had something valuable stolen from you?  If you have had any of these experiences, did anger come with it?

11.  Being denied something that is very important to you   Have you ever:  Been fired or laid off from your employment?  Been denied a loan for something that you needed?  Tried to get a desirable job, but not be hired?  Applied to a school, but not be accepted?  Tried to start a romantic relationship, but been spurned?  Competed with your peers for what you believed was vital for you to have in terms of a relationship, an achievement, or some recognition, but your peer got it instead of you.  If you have, was anger there too?

12.  Being devalued by someone   When I was attending graduate school, I once witnessed the custodian of a certain church building, who was also a graduate student, share his thoughtful religious ideas with the two religious leaders who taught at the building.  Something happened that he did not expect.  The two religious leaders, minimized his ideas and treated him as an inferior, probably because he was working as the custodian.  I have also witnessed and heard accounts of men and women being devalued by their spouses, who thought themselves to be better than the spouse devalued.  This was at times in the form of a wife devaluing her husband because the husband was not as skilled in his parenting as she thought she was.  The wife actually prevented her husband from improving his parenting, because she kept interfering with his discipline of their children (See Chapter 16 of "Anger Elimination").  And finally, I have observed many of my professor peers often subtly mock and devalue the few of their peers who are knowledgeable and faithful Christians in addition to being competent scholars.  It is probably true that honorable people worldwide, who quietly and honestly live their good religious or spiritual beliefs, and who do not devalue other people, are devalued by people around them who do not like their religious or spiritual beliefs.  Because someone chooses to learn and live religious principles or choose to do something opposite to that, is never a reason to mock or devalue that person.  There are many ways to be devalued, and I have only included a few.  Being devalued often is highly offensive and in many cases leads to anger for the victim.

13.  Someone wrongfully taking credit for your idea or achievement   This often happens in many different organizations when someone selfishly steals the work and ideas of another (See Chapter 3 in "Anger Elimination" on Takers, Balancers, and Givers).  Sadly, this has also happened with many of the notable inventions of our modern world.  Would you get angry if it happened to you?

14.  Personal failure in something that is very important to you   I know of two main examples of this.  One involved a graduate student who was rejected for admission to the doctoral program of his desires.  He became very angry and bitter, and was unhappy for as long as I still knew about him.  The second example is about a man who was trying to learn about stock market trading, but just could not master enough of it to be successful at that time.  Although he was not wealthy or even well off financially, over the course of several years he lost about $250,000 of his own and probably an amount equal to that of other’s money (associate's and family member's) that they had entrusted to his care.  Because he had a good moral foundation, this was a horrible strain on him, and he was distressed and exceedingly angry (at himself) about it for much of the time.

15.  Dishonoring or ignoring of instructions given to a subordinate or one's children, and the same neglect from one's spouse or coworker, when fulfillment of the instruction or request is appropriate.   I have seen a great deal of family sadness, upset, and anger over this sort of core emotional issue.  The effects of dishonoring, ignoring, opposing, and neglect of requests and instructions seem to be much worse in the close relationships of family than in the hierarchy of work relationships.

16.  Passive or active sabotage by someone of a task or project that is important to you   I have seen this core emotional issue violated in both family settings and in work settings.  Anger often feeds very well on this.

17.  Anything that you consider to be meaningfully (to you) unjust or unfair  This is a broad type of core emotional issue.  There are many, many types of unfairness in the world every day.  And most of them generate anger.

18.  Anything that frustrates, hinders, or blocks something important to you--a high personal need for control  (Please see Chapter 16 in "Anger Elimination" for some good examples of this) 

19.  Abuse of your time   Many people in the world are selfish abusers of others precious time.  This time abuse happens in a variety of obvious and subtle ways.  Please see Chapter 3 in "Anger Elimination" on Takers, Balancers, and Givers for a better understanding of this.I have included quite a few true anger stories in my new "Anger Elimination" book to illustrate the universal anger stimulators that I have listed above.  Each situation was costly to the participants in some way.  It diminished their better humanity.  And, those who got angry usually needlessly harmed the others involved in some way.  Although the stories are true, I have changed the names of, some genders of, and some details about the individuals involved to respect their privacy.  As you read these stories, you will find that some or even all of the anger stories will be very familiar to you, because you have either personally experienced or observed the same sort of situations.

I explain in detail how to change your thoughts and beliefs about other peoples' violation of your core issues in Chapter 18.  It partially involves emotionally accepting that justice is often ill served or violated in the short-term, but is always perfectly fulfilled in the long-term.  It also involves understanding your True Intuition.  And, it involves changing your thoughts and beliefs in specific steps, with a core change being necessary for total anger elimination.


If you have found what I have shared with you to be helpful, then please share it with your friends, associates, and loved ones, as you feel impressed to do.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Nowell



Dr. Brian L. Nowell has worked in a variety of leadership and education positions for the past 30 years. During those years, he has consulted with many people to help them develop their potential to lead better lives. His B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Psychology are from The University of South Florida and The University of Georgia. Dr. Nowell has taught a wide variety of courses as a lecturer and as a college professor. And, he has educated diverse audiences on various topics nationwide in the United States. Dr. Nowell is the Managing Director of The Development Center (, a not for profit 501(c)(3)organization which provides education and development to individuals, groups, and organizations. He is currently providing psychology classes for UMUC Europe and South Dakota State University. Dr. Nowell’s current passionate area of psychological interests are the psychology of the stock market, and the psychology of anger elimination. He has written a practical book on how to use powerful psychological stock market information to increase ones financial prosperity (, and a second practical book about anger elimination ( Dr. Nowell’s personal interests include family history research, multi focus short and long term history, oil painting, backpacking, optimal learning methods/mastery education, carpentry, horticulture, appropriate technology living, creative problem solving, reading, traveling, and sailing. Brian and his wonderful wife Debby are the parents of 2 children.  He was recently living in Enkenbach, Germany with Debby, but they will soon be living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

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