I LOSE MYSELF IN ESCAPE
when I can’t face my anger
PREVIOUS: Ways to react (Part 2)
DEALING with anger – ours or others’ (cont)
1. Confrontation – see below
2. Depression = (internal), when anger is not dealt with, & gets turned inward at one self. The combination becomes a vicious cycle that’s hard to break
• Lashing out can cause guilt & alienation, leading to depression, OR
• Long-term depression can make emotions overwhelming, increasing the likelihood of anger outbursts. Breaking this cycle usually requires therapy & sometimes meds. Al-Anon & Spirituality helps too. CHART by Don Lehman Jr.
3. Flight = (internal) running away from someone who’s angry or causing our anger. This can take the form of shutting down emotionally, physical paralysis, leaving the situation as soon as possible & avoiding angry people / situations permanently (isolation)
Sometimes our Flight response can encourage aggression in the other person, if they feel disrespected or abandoned, adding to our Fear/Terror, which can be very debilitating. This reaction in adults is:
— appropriate when there is a very real present-day abuser we need to get away from, which can be emotional & psychological, or a threat of imminent physical danger
— most often an inappropriate response to a current event – which may in fact not be abusive at all but is experienced that way – as a PTSD reaction from long-term childhood trauma
4. Fight = (external) a verbally or physically violent confrontation, either to what’s ‘causing’ the anger or to the angry person. Usually a Fear cover-up reaction, the other half the Fight-Flight response hard-wired into out brain for protection.
— appropriate when we or someone / something we love is threatened
— not appropriate in most current cases (also PTSD)
• Some people accidentally step on our emotional land-mines & get blasted
• Some are perpetrators who use anger to get ‘a rise’ out of others, which many ACoAs will fall for, since we have hidden reservoirs of anger easily tapped into
• Unhealthy people who know us well, know our buttons & can always push them to punish or get back at us
• Narcissists can easily get us riled up because of their inability to consider us at all, as if we didn’t exist…….
5. Revenge = (external, indirect) is made up of retreating, in order to attack later (P-A = Passive-Aggressive), with obsessive planning in between – when deliberate – but can be habitual & unconscious. When considered consciously, these angry people first evaluate the possibility of winning or losing. Because of their emotional intensity, they can easily overestimate their personal power – getting into unnecessary losing battles (Fight).
Revenge & Fight responses are linked: Anger victims’ desire for revenge or mastery can cause them to also develop anger problems. Abused children:
— may vow to never again let themselves be vulnerable, becoming hostile to others on the theory that “a good offense is the best defense”
— may over-generalize & want to take revenge on an entire group (all men, all minorities….), only some of whom may have actually harmed them
— may be reinforced & rewarded for being a bully, find that it helps raise their ‘street cred’. (CHART – good info)
• However, if emotion doesn’t overcome reason & they figure they’ll loose by a frontal attack, (Fight response) they’ll resorts to the P-A Revenge response. Punishment is dealt out just as in the Fight response, but later – when least expected, perhaps in small doses & anonymously, or can come in disguised form.
Revenge is a type of retaliation for injury (real or not) & if one is truly in a powerless position, it’s may feel like the only option available to express their ‘displeasure’. Fight and Revenge responses often lead to increasing external damage, because each pour gasoline on the emotional fire.
#1. Compassionate Confrontation (in first chart) = the appropriate response in most cases, but is a rarely used ‘language’ in our culture being the hardest to implement at all, & on a regular basis.
— Depression & Flight responses are too passive, only encouraging the expression of Anger from others and cultivating Fear in us
— Under normal circumstances Fight or Revenge are an over-reaction & too aggressive, adding to the negatively charged atmosphere of Anger.
— Expressing anger in a compassionate & non-violent way avoids the need for the other 4 responses – in most cases. Instead of prolonging the Anger, appropriate confrontation will diffuse intense painful emotions & hostile behavior.
EXCEPTION: If having to deal with mentally ill people & pathological narcissists for any length of time – anger is inevitable. Their interactions are so toxic that Flight – in the form of physically removing oneself – is the only safe & wise course, especially when they unleash abusive rage at us or our loved ones. Also, we can put up a mental shield to protect our Inner Child from absorbing the rage-poison. It’s important to explain to the WIC that the rage is coming from their WIC, and is not about us.
Compassionate Confrontation may include:
— the right state of mind (step aside, like a matador facing a raging bull
— understand what’s going on with both sides of a dispute/issue
— arrange a meeting if possible (wait for a ‘good time’)
— talk about your observations & feelings, without ranting or blame
— actively listen to the other’s point of view
— try to find a win-win solution
* This process may have to be repeated more than once to work itself out.
NEXT: Ways to react (Part 4)