YES, I HAVE LOTS OF OPTIONS
but I only use the ones I know well
PREVIOUS: Anger Categories Part 2
3. OTHER Anger-EXPRESSIONS (cont)
It is natural to feel anger towards the person/s who caused our childhood trauma, but that anger can be complicated by the feeling of ambivalence
– IF the person/s who caused our trauma also did good things for us. Such ambivalence can be very painful & confusing, leaving us in conflict. We can feel anger, frustration, gratitude, love, longing, missing them….
OR – we can white-wash them, by excuse the perpetrator/s by telling ourselves they didn’t know any better, they didn’t mean it, they were under great stress….
This confusion & denial will make it harder to feel the legitimate anger, & end up making us feel emotionally numb ( a type of dissociative state).
AGGRESSIVE anger (direct)
This is intense anger expressed in visible behavior, designed to hurt the person we experience as harming us, or who triggers our old pain. The attacks are the result of focusing so strongly on our own personal needs & wounds that we’re oblivious to the sensibilities of others (our narcissism), so we often act out & cause trouble.
Bad attitudes / being anti-social : finger-pointing, ignoring people’s feelings, open defiance, prejudice, stealing, stirring up trouble, unfair punishments,
wearing clothes or symbols associated with violent behavior, willfully discriminating….
Physical: flashes of temper, physical or sexual violence of any kind
(fist shaking, kicking, hitting, shoving, slapping, threaten with a weapon….) tailgating, excessively blowing a car horn, slamming doors.
Verbal: Used as armor & weapons, including vulgar or biased jokes, bickering, blaming, breaking a confidence, endless negativity & fault-finding, frightening by threats of social or physical harm, foul language insults, judging, labeling, malicious gossip, nagging, name-calling, refusal to talk, unjust accusations of immorality or of having detestable traits or motives….
ALSO: Sarcasm & Teasing – a way to express anger indirectly, with clever but cutting remarks disguised as humor. EXP: “It’s OK that you’re late. I had time to read the menu―40 times.” Teasers are often in denial about their underlying rage, thinking they’re just being funny, so they figure that if the recipient of a barbed witticism gets angry – that’s on them. They feel justified in accusing the other person of over-reacting: “I’m just kidding…. you’re way too sensitive! But these kinds of communication are mean, so recipients will feel the hurt & withdraw or retaliate. Although some people insist that mockery is a form of intellectual humor, the very word sarcasm is related to the Greek word ‘sarkazein’, meaning “to tear flesh like dogs.” Ouch! (MORE…)
a. One meaning is when someone make a habit of trying to deny feeling anger all together – because they experienced the awful results of aggression growing up, &/ or because of religious prohibition (anger=sin). They’re afraid of anger, both their own & that of others. On the surface their communication is: “I’m fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” Even when there’s a raging volcano in their gut, all that shows is a happy face, with nary a flicker of irritation. This is not passive-aggression – this is buried aggression.
• Since anger is a natural human emotions & everyone feels it from time to time, the more someone suppresses it, the more it builds up, until it consumes them – often in the form of an Immune Deficiency or other illness. Long-term internalized anger damages self-esteem because it results in feeling too weak to assert our needs, which can lead to being scapegoated, depression, paranoia, debilitating worry…. And the continual rush of negative stress hormones can cause many physical problems.
b. The other meaning is about distancing ourselves from the person who makes us feel angry – giving a phony smile, not talking to them, never looking them in the face, staying away from them altogether…. Giving others the cold shoulder or silent treatment can be:
— sidestepping confrontation, because of not knowing how to proceed
— our passive form of punishment for their – supposed or real – offense
— a way to protect the other person from an outburst of our rage – which we’ll be sorry for later
• However, by not saying what bothers us as soon as possible (assertive anger), the option of working it thru is eliminated, since the person or group has no way of knowing they’ve caused an upset. Their ignorance makes it more likely the ‘offender(s)’ will continue to be a source of aggravation. Of course, this applies to situations where there is at least the possibility of an improvement, but this can only happen if we at least make one attempt at communicating our upset.
• If we try 2 or 3 times to ask the person or group for some satisfaction (‘Please stop ——’, Can we ——?, Would you be willing to —-?”) and there is no discussion or change, OR if there’s a promise of change but never any follow-thru, then avoidance is our only option – rather than staying & staying – with the false hope that we’ll get our needs met! Obviously, there are PPT which are best avoided altogether since there’s no way to have a resolution or for the offender to change their ways.
➼ In general, with both a & b styles, a chronic Avoider cannot escape accumulating a backlog of anger, which will at some point either explode or turn into ongoing depression &/or illness.
NEXT: Anger Categories (Part 4)