IT SEEMS SAFER
to turn the anger inward
PREVIOUS: Categories (Part 1)
2. MOST HARMFUL: SELF-ABUSIVE/ S-H anger (80-90% of us)
This form is anger at ourselves (self-blame) for not getting our needs met – being abandoned in one or more PMES ways in childhood. It is most harmful because it not only undermines the self-hater, but poisons everyone & everything around them. It is the most common form of anger, but the least acknowledged, since most people suppress the awareness of it in themselves.
• It is expressed in all 3 T.E.A. forms – hurting ourselves with cruel, self-torturing Thoughts, Feeling excruciating self-loathing, & Doing self-destructive things or let others harm us. In it’s simplest form, self-hate (S-H) is the child’s belief that “everything which caused me pain in childhood – was my fault.” As adults – because of low self-esteem – the person decides it’s ‘safer’ & easier to be mad at oneself than at others.
• All children automatically conclude they cause their pain (especially when it’s continual) because they assume they’re the center of everything, & therefore everything that happens to them is about them. A child’s logic says that “if I had been ‘good enough’, my parents would have provided enough of what we needed – acknowledgment, comfort, information,
love, safety, support…..
• FROM the CHILD: S-H can start in infancy. Babies & young children have all kinds of habits, needs & emotions that parents prohibit &/or punish: being angry, demanding, greedy, jealous, needy, sloppy, ‘thoughtless’ …. which teaches us that parts of ourselves are unacceptable & have to be cut away. This creates a rejection of our True Self. “I’m not good enough, & never will be” becomes a core belief.
• FROM the PARENTS: Very damaged family members actually tell the child outright that they’re unlovable, too much trouble, worthless…. Parents who are rejecting, neglectful, shaming, over-demanding, overprotective, overly punitive, overbearing…. insure a child’s S-H.
This kind of mis-treatment can result in a child being compliant (‘good girl/boy’) or rebellious. In either case, it inevitably leads to depression & rage, which mask a deep fear, with a feeling of emptiness, drowning out other happier emotions.
BELIEF: S-H is a way to not feel powerless & vulnerable, starting at a time when that was our reality in life. The child decided, consciously or not, that “Since I caused the thing or person to hurt me (somehow my fault), then I can/have to change myself & them, so I can feel better.” And not being able to change the people or situations in our environment added to our S-H, seeing ourselves a total failures! However, we did NOT cause our early suffering, & so could not have cured it (the 3 Cs).
— Dorothy Block, in the intro to her book “So the Witch Won’t Eat Me”, explains how children turn their rage at their abandoning parents in on themselves, assuming that simply having the emotion of rage will kill them, as punishment for being potential murderers!
— Dr. Rubin, in “Compassion & Self-Hate” gives a detailed picture of the many ways this anger is used against ourselves, as well as the opposite.
Self-INJURY – One form of turning anger on ourselves is physically harming our own body (the A of TEA) – such as cutting, overeating or starving, pulling out hair, hitting ourselves or banging our head…..
— to feel something, because having shut down on all the agony of childhood abuse & neglect, we go numb, & that’s as unbearable as the pain we’re trying to avoid (consider how upsetting numb hands or feet are)
— to punish another person for triggering our abandoned pain, to show them how much they’ve hurt us – to punish ourselves for something we’ve done wrong (getting angry, making a mistake, upsetting someone, not being able to control an outcome….)
BUT what we believe to actually be ‘wrong’ – is being born!
3. OTHER Anger-EXPRESSIONS
Science has proven that anger-addiction is real – because of the adrenaline surge, increased heart rate & blood pressure – which makes us feel alive, even euphoric. (see Anger & the brain– #2).
Because such people have not learned other ways to feel good, they become dependent on their anger. They will often create a crisis or look for jobs & relationships which provide the rush of excitement they ‘need’. They may look for ways to be offended & opportunities to pick fights – pouring more fuel on the fire – creating conflicts wherever they go. (MORE….)
• As with substance addicts, people who needs a daily anger “fix” can get antsy & irritable or lethargic & bored – when it’s not available. They feel mental tension & physical discomfort, so that when the craving is finally satisfied, they experience some relief. So it’s a vicious cycle – the more the brain wiring is reinforced, the more the anger-produced chemicals are strengthened.
Anger-high is used to elevate depressed mood, & release pent-up emotions. It gives the ‘adrenaline junkie’ a sense of being in control, & covers up other emotions like fear, frustration, hurt, sadness… Anger is forceful, so it’s used to re-gain a sense of power & status, but without the internal assurance of being safe & worthy. They need intensity, so their anger takes on an all-or-nothing pattern, but the relief is short-lived, often followed by a nasty emotional hangover, & creating more problems than it solves.
NEXT: Anger categories (Part 3)