I ALWAYS HAVE TO ACT NICE
to hide how angry I really am
POST: “What about Anger?”
Our culture does not support, tolerate or excuse expressing anger in obvious ways – except when participating in or watching sports, or being drunk! One reason is that it’s assumed there’s only one way to let it out – explosively, dangerously – which of course scares most people, since it can be physically & emotionally unsafe.
But it’s not the only way (“Ways to react” posts).
Since everyone was born with the ability to feel anger (A.), just as we have the natural capacity to experience all the other Es – in varying degrees – each of us figures out how to deal with it, based on our personal tendencies & what we copied or learned as kids. In our society, A. is usually called a ‘negative’* emotion – even by the best regarded teachers, writers & therapists. This is wrong! This misnomer comes from NOT separating the TEA components:
–The Emotion itself (physical energy & information about our environment), vs.
— the way we frame it in our Thinking (acceptable or unacceptable), vs.
— how we Act on it – Positively or Negatively.
*The E. of Anger itself should never be designated as a negative! It is not only blatantly inaccurate to do so, but does it a great injustice – because A. gives vital information about bad things happening to us or around us. NO emotion is negative, only harmful thoughts & actions are! A. is a necessary & appropriate reaction to 3 main things:
✔︎ being scared, being frustrated & being hurt (such as threatened, ignored, disrespected….). (see T.E.A. // ‘Feelings aren’t facts’ )
★ And anger is a healthy response to any abuse & deprivation of very real needs (attention, safety, respect, love, freedom, encouragement, comfort….)
Normally, Anger can be:
— an immediate response to a particular situation
— or gradually built up from a series of real or perceived injustices or threats
— or a slow escalation from long-term abuse, neglect, or treated unfairly
But when someone doesn’t have any safe outlet for their anger, it will go underground. It becomes a part of our ‘Shadow“, (aspects of ourselves we find unacceptable) so we reject & push the anger into the unconscious.
However, the emotion never goes away on its own – until it is expressed in safe ways and by fixing the causes, if possible. Instead, it stays locked in our muscles, ligaments, organs & auras. (See upcoming posts ‘Symptoms‘)
Over time, this trapped energy will be too big to be contained & will end up coming out sideways!
Emotionally HEALTHY Nice People have good self-esteem. They are:
• direct, clear & positive in communication & behavior
• happy, self-assured, assertive, confident, relaxed, easy
• well-behaved, socially appropriate, well-mannered, generous
• thoughtful, helpful, kind, loyal, respectful, sensitive to others
UNHEALTHY ‘Nice’ People have low self-esteem. They are:
EITHER co-dependent (Co-dep): over-doing for everyone else, rescuing, self-sacrificing, the ‘good’ one, always ‘up’
OR passive-aggressive (P-A): resistant, obstructive, deliberately forgetful, plotting, ‘innocent’, pretend-incompetent
Freud once likened anger to the smoke in an old-fashioned wood-burning stove: Normally, the smoke goes up the chimney, safely away. But if this is blocked up, the smoke will leak out – thru the grate, under the door, thru the vents…. choking everyone in the house. AND, if all avenues of escape are blocked, the fire will eventually go out, making the stove useless.
When we go thru something difficult or painful, and haven’t learned appropriate ways to cope with the Es that come up (usually fear, &/or anger), we’re either not aware of them at all, or dismiss what we’re feeling & find ways to distract ourselves. This stifling is a continuation of how we tried to protect ourselves as kids because we kept being punished for expressing those Es. Now it just keeps us stuck in our own mud.
Aggressive Anger is obvious – shown as verbal threats, screaming, physical blows, breaking / destroying objects or property…. The consequences are usually bad.
Hidden Anger, on the other hand, is subtle & manipulative (whether Co-dep or P-A), & comes with its own risks & negative outcomes. Behaviors can be so indirect, often not related to anything that’s currently happening, that others either won’t easily catch on, or will be puzzled by it. Angry-nice people either act as perpetrators or victims, acting out their hidden rage in such a way as to insure they can keep denying it, & keep their ‘good-guy’ status.
— If the anger is so deeply suppressed that it’s now unconscious, the person will not be able to acknowledge that certain actions or non-actions are a sign of being ‘triggered’ (hurt, scared, frustrated)
— If the anger is conscious but concealed, then the unhealthy patterns are deliberate, & can become vindictive : planned to sneakily annoy, hurt or destroy someone they blame for their annoyance or pain.
Either way, denying our anger cuts us off from a vitality that could give us the power to forge ahead on our own behalf, leavings us feeling powerless.
Yet many ‘nice’ people are so dedicated to their carefully constructed facade of ‘OK-ness’, they refuse to feel their anger directly & deal with situations that caused it. This prevents any resolution or growth.
NEXT: Secretly angry nice people (Intro-b)