Anger – TRIGGERS (Part 1)

anger/ painTHERE’S NO END

that can set me off!

Negative Uses (#2)



Trigger + our point of view about it + our temperament = anger (but not always or for everyone)
Our emotional reaction of anger to PPT is usually a combination of internal & external factors. Sometimes external events that bother us are actually positive or neutral, but because of our internal damage (from the WIC & the PP) we react to a stimulus with anger.  EXP – for ACoAs:
— being accused WRONGLY enrages us
— being accused RIGHTLY terrifies us (& then we get angry & defensive)
anger iceberg
• While there are many legitimate reasons to get angry, under the anger are some‘sensitive’ emotions we may not want to admit to, such as loneliness, need, loss, abandonment pain, fear, sadness….. which cause us a great deal of pain, making us feel too vulnerable.

Everyone has hot buttons which set us off, based on our personality and our childhood experiences. Anyone interested in Recovery /personal growth will need to identify our specific triggers, in order to better manage our verbal & physical responses. (Iceberg)

1. INTERNAL Triggers
Emotionally, the big 3 – which inevitably trigger anger – are:
— being HURT – our feelings, our integrity, an important loss, an insult to anyone/thing we love…..
— being SCARED – EXP: Man in bike with little son on the back almost gets side- swiped by a bus, making him yell & hit the bus with his fist
— being FRUSTRATED – whenever someone/thing blocks us from reaching a goal (big or small), especially if it’s for a long timetriggers

Our own PERSONALITY – as mentioned elsewhere, genetics plays a part in our temperament. Some people are naturally more easily revved up when something goes wrong for them. (Enneagram 891’s, certain astrological combinations…..)

High / unrealistic EXPECTATIONS (‘should’ beliefs @ others)
Expectations held as demands usually create low-frustration tolerance, leading to inappropriate anger-expressions, such as:
— a tendency to lecture people on how they ‘should’ / ‘should not’ behave
— a deeply rooted belief that our circumstances & people ‘have to / need to’ be exactly as we expect (MORE…. )

Cognitive DISTORTIONS (CDs) & Toxic Beliefs S-H
Awfulizing, blaming, discomfort-intolerance, mind-reading, filtering, perfectionism….. at best will lead to lead to disappointment & frustration, at worst to Self-Hate & rage. False beliefs cause anxiety, leading to aggression, in an attempt to ward off perceived threats to our well-being OR to our self-image. CD cause us to misinterpret facts, events, or other people’s actions as threats to goal achieving our goals, or as attacks on our dignity, rules or property. Misinterpreting our environment leads to wrong conclusions, leading to self-defeating actions (DRAWING)

EXP: Labeling – ‘Global’, all-encompassing rating (“all men are —- / She’s such a witch / no one cares about me…. / those — are all lazy, shiftless”) prevent us from fully experiencing people as individuals with plusses & minuses – just like us! Labeling makes it easier to be angry with others when they annoy or disappoint us.  (MORE….)

IMPULSIVENESS (poor emotional control)
While some of us are fundamentally more easily upset than others, impulsive reactions can usually be traced back to our WIC, who is filled with anxiety, accumulated from past trauma. The more anxiety, the more likely it will be expressed by burst of anger. Some of us only let it out around people we’re close too, others only toward strangers. But the fact that it’s an instantaneous over-reaction tells us the Amygdala is in charge, not the Cortex. That’s why it’s considered psychologically immature.

ANGER CYCLE – unhealthy circle of emotional & behavior responses to events which hurt, frustrate of scare us. (From DAMBREAKER)
1. Trigger – loss, words, actions or anything else that will set off anger
2. Internal Reaction – letting us know that something is ‘wrong’
3. Intensification – A flush of chemicals are released in the brain, with heart rate & breathing dramatically increased.  This gives people a reason to justify how they’re feeling, most of the time concluded inaccurately, based on false assumptions (CDs)
anger cycle4. External Barrier Break – Some obvious signs of anger start showing which others can clearly see, such as crying, angry gestures, shouting….

5. Explosive Peak – when someone moves into a verbal &/or physically violent way of expressing their anger. Dangerous to others, but also themselves – by saying / doing say things they may not really mean
6. Exhaustion & Withdrawal – when the anger/rage had died down or dissipated
7. Final Stage
a. Remorse and Apology – having calmed down & realizing their over-reaction, some people will realize their errors use this time to apologize for their outburst – OR
b. Intense Justification – others (especially narcissists) will not admit they’re done/said anything wrong, & will find a ‘good’ reason for their reaction, including blaming others for causing their
REPEAT – Whether one is a chronic or occasional rager, without Pattern Correction, this cycle will be repeated.

ANOTHER way of looking at this same process comes from Ronald Potter-Efron’s best-seller “Angry All the Time” – Normal vs Chronic anger

NORMAL anger cycleCHRONIC anger cycle

ALSO: See Combination chart for a more detailed view, which include T.E.A.s within each phase of the behavior cycle – applied to anger & other dysfunctional patterns (“Anger management for Kids” on Flourish &Thrive (6/1/12)

NEXT: Anger triggers (Part 2)


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