IF I PAY ATTENTION
I’ll be able to know how I feel
PREVIOUS: Anger & Co-D (Part 2)
BOOK: “When Anger Scares You: How to….”
1. Re. Our Anger (Part 1 & 2)
Re. OTHER PEOPLE’s Anger
REMINDER: Co-dependence (Co-D) is a defense mechanism, a supposed ‘protection’ against touching our deep well of fear-of-abandonment (FoA). It comes from the belief that the power is not within us, but rather in other people & things. It is a way to cover feeling lost & worthless, not knowing that we a True Self, having had to create a False Self we intuitively know is indeed false.
But without FoO & Inner Child work, we have no way of knowing who we truly are, so we co-dependently look to others to tell us. It’s an attempt at getting the healthy mirroring we never got from our parents, yet we compulsively go to narcissists & other wounded people to ‘see’ us, who can never reflect us back to ourselves. They can only project their False Self on to us!
• Co-dependence comes in many flavors. While people-pleasing is one of it’s hallmarks, it’s not always in the form of over-niceness. It can also be camouflaged by surliness or isolation. Co-Ds who tend to crankiness or bursts of rage are just as approval-driven as the more obvious kind.
• However, most Co-Ds have no idea we have a right to be assertive – much less how to do it – & are convinced that any sign of self-assurance is confrontation, which we fanatically avoid. This is not so, because confrontation usually includes an underlying hostility – the need to push someone around, to get our own way, to suppress the other persons point of view…..
This shows up as Conflict-Avoidance, which comes from a combination of:
— fear of our own anger leading to a possible loss of control & therefore loss of acceptance or love, (that we will destroy someone else), AND
— the assumption that everyone becomes unreasonable when they’re angry, & we won’t know how to deal with it (that it will destroy us!)
• Also, most Co-Ds cannot bear having anyone be angry at or be disappointed in us. This makes it easy for others – if so inclined – to take advantage of us. The more approval we need, the less likely we’re able to notice the extent of our self-sacrifice in favor of taking care of other people needs, want & demands. Being used, abused & then thrown away is very painful, creating or maintaining depression & S-H, in a vicious, downward spiral.
WHY we’re afraid:
• it reminds us of one or more raging adults we grew up with. Unless we’ve done a lot of rage-discharge-work, our body is still warehousing all the old terror those people continually caused us. So now, whether someone’s angry directly at us OR we’re just nearby someone who is very angry, our fear can feel like every nerve is on fire!
• we assume we’ll get hit or worse – perhaps the way we were as kids
• we don’t know what to say – don’t have clever comebacks, or logical responses (See: “Effective Responses” from ACoA website)
• it triggers our own hidden anger we’re trying to keep down (See post: Anger & ACoAs)
IRONY: Co-Ds are microscopically focused on what others are saying /doing, to figure out what they want from us, so we can provide it, as a way of insuring a continued connection (because of FoA). This is our narcissism, & desire for symbiotic acceptance – not actually trying to understand who someone is.
• At the same time we are oblivious to many cues from other people, a kind of emotional Asperger – including many positive responses we DO receive, which could heal us. Because of old trauma, we block out indirect AND direct information others give us, having taught ourselves to avoid seeing danger – everywhere – like a turtle with its head pulled in. And our S-H doesn’t allow us to see the. We miss hints that someone is:
— honoring, complementing or validating us
— sexually or socially interested in us
— belittling, insulting or making fun of us
— anxious to leave, but too polite to say so
— angry, annoyed, bored, hurting, scared, otherwise upset…..
ANGER: Eyes down, narrowed, tense, or staring, furrow between eyes, brow pulled down, lips drawn tight or raised in squarish shape – muscle movements showing when we feel aggressive, frustrated or threatened. Researchers think we make this ‘face’ because it could protect it in a physical conflict (furrowed eyebrows protect eyes….)
CONTEMPT: It’s when we literally look down our nose at someone with derision or suspicion – lowered brow or eyes looking to the side. The main feature is that only one side of the face is pulled tight.
(If we were pulling both sides we’d be swallowing or salivating)
DISGUST: Here the muscles above the
upper lip pull up, raising it, wrinkling the nose, & narrowing the eyes – as if smelling something foul. Often the mouth opens & the tongue comes out, in case you need to throw up.
USEFUL – It can help to know the difference in motivation, between:
BAD anger : used to control another person thru intimidation, OR anger at oneself as a way to control other emotions we don’t want to feel, vs.
GOOD anger: used to protect ourselves from some external danger, OR to teach us that we’re not thinking / acting in our best interest (have somehow abandoned ourselves).
NEXT: Anger – ways to react