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What Are You Really Upset About?

December 27, 2022

Most of the time when you’re upset (or someone else is) –

The “upset” isn’t usually about the thing that we say that we are upset about.

Here’s one of my (favorite and relatable) personal real-life examples.

In a past relationship, I would get SO upset when my partner did not wipe the kitchen counters.

I would cling to him wiping the counter, what it represented, and if he didn’t? 

I would dwell, get livid, and lament in self-pity.  

Yes, friends. I am a rigid Virgo when it comes to cleaning standards. 

So if it wasn’t about the counters, 

what was my “upset” about? 

It was a much BIGGER unmet need that I was displaying as crumbs… on the counter.

But underneath the crumb? Was something SO MUCH bigger.

The second arrow. 

The parable of the second arrow is a Buddhist parable about dealing with suffering more skillfully.

The Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way.

Being struck by an arrow is painful. 

(Dirty countertops)

But being struck by a second arrow is even more painful. 

This concept was once foreign to me and now I get to educate my clients with this daily.

The counters are the first arrow, so what exactly is the second arrow underneath?

I didn’t feel seen or heard, or honored. 

I desired to have peace and calm in my home, especially when so much outside of the home felt so damn stressful.

Bottom line: Underneath every upset is an unmet need

And feeling that the need is not being met is causing the upset. 

Getting the need met // calms the upset.

Until your needs are identified, spoken, and met, you will continue to experience the same triggers again and again until the need is uncovered.

Jacqueline Stevens

It becomes easier for our partners or people in our lives to meet our needs if they understand what those needs are.

And how can anyone know your needs? 

If you don’t?

So. Want to be less upset about counters?

Do your part to identify and calmly communicate the needs that trigger your upsets and explain to loved ones how you’d like them to meet those needs.

If you have a bunch of arrows flying in your life – here are some questions to support you in gaining clarity on your needs.

Consider/ask yourself:

  • Where are you holding onto frustration in your life?
  • If you bring those frustrations to the table, what’s the second arrow?
  • How are you communicating your needs?
  • How are you miscommunicating your needs?
    • Saying things matter when they don’t?
    • Saying things don’t matter when they do?

If you’re overwhelmed and desiring DEEPER clarity on your arrows, vision, needs, and ultimately your LIFE. 


You need pause and clarity. 

You know someone who has the tools to support you in whatever transformation you are seeking.

Emotional Fitness Tool