PREVIOUS: Anger – Styles #4
Most people tends to use some or all of these mis-management styles at some point, depending on the situation & people involved. However, each of us chooses one preferred style (unconsciously & by family training) as our dominant pattern in daily interactions. So just switching styles is not the answer – except for the HEALTHY form of expression. In addition to the standard list, now we’ve added:
COMPUTER: Anger/rage at either software or hardware that’s not working or too complex
INTERNET: Flaming emails, being flooded with SPAM, abusive texts….
TRANSPORTATION: Road-rage & drive-by shootings
NOTE: The following ancient story has to do with the harm we can inflict on others by our angry verbal & physical actions – NOT the harm in the emotion of anger itself.
ZEN STORY: There was once a young man who was as tired of his fits of rage as were those around him. He’d get mad at the most trivial things & then later apologize. The apologies stopped having any meaning because his behavior didn’t change. He was convinced that anger was ingrained in him, out of his control, & wondered why his loved ones couldn’t see that & accept him the way he was. Finally one day he pleaded with his guru for help & enlightenment.
“Take a wooden board. Every time you get angry, drive a nail in it. Come back and let me know when the board is full.”
The man followed the advice religiously. Before long, in just a few weeks, not a bit of space was left on the board – it was full of nails. He looked at it & felt ashamed. He went back to his master to report.
“Now, make a conscious attempt to control your outburst and each time you succeed, take a nail out of the board. Bring back the board here when there are no more nails in it.”
He agreed, but this took much longer – many months in fact – to clear the board. Eventually he experienced a sense of control over his anger & felt relieved on seeing the plank cleared of nails.
When he went back to the guru with empty board, he was told:
“Ah! I see you have cleared the board, but how dearly I wish you could restore it to its original state by somehow making these gaping holes disappear. The damage done in anger may be withdrawn like first nailing and then pulling them out, however, it can never be undone. A mark will remain forever.”
1. HEALTHIEST : ASSERTIVE anger
This form is realistic because it’s in response to genuine offenses or injuries in the present, rather than a cover-up for old wounds & projected grievances onto other people or situations. We’re able to respond in the moment, in whichever way is appropriate to the present situation.
Being in our Adult Ego State allows us be in charge of our behavior (no matter how strong the emotion). Not afraid to admit when something bothers us, we can think of a rational, constructive, respectful approach before saying or doing anything. Also, this gives us time to listen with an open mind to another’s point of view or explanation, and we can talk with confidence in a non-threatening way,& help in deal with the situation.
• Constructive anger is not held on to but released, allowing us to act in a positive way to remove obstacle from our path. It comes from a persistent attitude to push forward to solve a given problem.
The underlying belief is: “I have a responsibility to protect myself & my rights. I respect others an fellow human beings, but not always how they behave. This belief is expressed by being honest with others about how we feel – direct & self-respecting, making ‘I’ statements, rather than blaming or attacking. EXP: “I feel angry when you …”
BOOK: “How to BE ANGRY“ (for kids & teens) – and ACoAs??
• Assertive anger can actually help relationships grow & be more intimate, because it doesn’t get buried & come out in distorted, abusive ways. It allows others to know who we are, & when there’s something they can do or change, to help improve the connection. Constructive anger is also a key factor in moving people to join political & social groups, marches, crusades….. It’s the feeling of being fed up with how things are going & the need contribute to positive change. (MORE….. Scroll down to: “Anger as a ‘Safe’ Way to Attach in Intimate -ie. Vulnerable- Relationships”)
• Being able to express anger appropriately comes with mental & emotional maturity – an aspect of self-respect, confidence & personal integrity. It includes being able to evaluate a situation without family-driven CDs, knowing our rights, thinking before we speak, being patient, not raising our voice unnecessarily, & really trying to understand what others think, need & are experiencing. It shows we care about ourselves & our relationships. Ultimately the (ideal) goal is to achieve a WIN-WIN experience for all concerned. EXP: Being Self-PROTECTIVE
Anger is PROACTIVE
• When we are trying to disconnect from an abusive narcissist (N.), anger is absolutely necessary to successfully escape. Anger overrides fear…. so allow yourself to feel angry. Show that anger. That does not mean being abusive or resort to name-calling, but it does give us the impetus to take action. Anger, unlike depression or despair, is a proactive emotion that helps us take a stand, fight back, and get away.
• If you’re trying to go ‘No Contact’ with your N., feel your anger. Wallow in it. It could save your sanity and maybe your life, as well as those of your children, if you have any. It will motivate you to do what you need to do.
Put your empathy on the back burner:
Eventually we can developed a level of empathy for narcissists because they have an illness, & they do suffer. But when you’re trying to disconnect, it’s better if you hate them, even seeing them as monsters or demons. Save any empathy for later on, when you’re stronger and safely away from your abuser(s). You cannot afford to have empathy for a narcissist WHILE you’re trying to get out of their clutches. (Modified from – The Lucky Otter’s Museum of Narcissism)
NEXT: Anger categories (Part 2)