PREVIOUS: Secretly-angry (Intro-a)
SITE: Emotions are NOT Bad Behavior
(What we needed as kids)
“You’re Not Allowed To Have Feelings”
(in our culture)
For those of us who suffered a great deal of PMES abuse by our family, it’s only natural to have built up a backlog of anger towards drunk, raging, selfish parents, abusive siblings & unsupportive relatives. As kids we gradually suppressed some or all of that anger (A.) & rage (as well as other painful Es), for 3 major reasons:
1. We were humiliated & abused if we had the nerve to get visibly angry at adults
2. It was (& may still be) too overwhelming to consciously face that our parents truly were/are unsafe, cruel, crazy, addicted, neglectful….
3. We were afraid that our anger would literally harm them – because children think their emotions have magical powers to injure or kill others
(BOOK: “So the Witch Won’t Eat Me“, Dorothy Block. Intro explains it)
Shutting down on painful Es was self-protection.
If we had to severely stifle our anger, it was because our parents:
— weren’t allowed to feel their own A.
— didn’t know how to deal with strong Es
— didn’t want us A. at them (their Co-dep & FoA)
— only they were allowed to be A.
— wanted to look ‘good’ to everyone else
— refused to be held accountable for what was hurting & therefore making us A.
— were too weak, sick, ‘delicate’ to bear have us challenge them
— believed it was disrespectful or a ‘sin’ to be A…. (‘ACoAs & Anger‘ post)
Sadly, most of us were taught to not have any Es. And for some – being sad / crying was punished, made fun of, ignored, while for others – our anger was the biggest no-no. So now we either refuse to acknowledge that we do indeed get angry, or are so shut down that we actually believe we never are.
Instead, we may recognize experiencing some of the following, which are all versions of ANGER:
annoyed, blaming, cranky, impatient, irritated, jealous, ‘justified’, outraged, resentful, self-blaming, over-reaction to being treated unjustly / unfairly, ‘touchy’, vindictive…
Ways we AVOID feeling anger :
PERSONAL • Ignore all uncomfortable emotions // Pretend painful things haven’t happened to us or our loved ones // Ignore RED flags in others
• Live in our head, obsessing // Constantly intellectualize, analyze
• Keep all our conversations superficial, only talk about what we’re Do-íng
• Talk about everyone else’s business
• Bury A. under a guise of ‘spirituality’/good works
• Keep so busy we never stop to notice emotions
• Cling to bad relationships, keep everyone at arm’s length, or avoid all
• Constantly think about self-improvement, but never risk taking action
• Overeat /choose sugary & fatty foods
• Excessive use of alcohol, recreational or prescription drugs
• Any compulsive behavior (internet, smoking, sex, exercise, shopping, gambling …..) that distracts & numbs us
• Tight muscles, causing headaches, back spasms, shoulder pain, teeth grinding….
• Chronic/ auto-immune illnesses, that keep us weak & debilitated
HIDDEN ANGER & ANXIETY
Anger – like other Es – can be caused by many different internal & external circumstance (10 posts), in some cases an appropriate emotional response to various kinds of harm, & in others cases an over-reaction to a current event that triggers unhealed childhood wounds.
Fear is the survival emotion we feel in our nerves & gut when actually in a dangerous situation, like being high up somewhere, being yelled at or slapped, suddenly get a serious illness, in a car accident, being fired…..
— future oriented: It’s what we feel leading up to a (real or imagined) dangerous, stressful or threatening situation – like anticipating going to the dentist, waiting to see the boss, in line at the airport…. And some people are born with a particularly sensitive nervous system, predisposing them to be more intensely affected by stressors, especially as children
— past oriented: It’s the suppressed psychic energy of rage & terror from years of living in chaotic, dangerous environments, which is now stuck in our body. This backlog then fuels the fearful thoughts that are behind so much of our present-day worry. So we can connect Anger & Anxiety, 2 sides of the same coin, even tho on the surface they seem contradictory, because Anxiety is usually associated with fear, which can make us timid (Flight), while Anger tends to temporarily energize, fueling actions & reactions (Fight).
INTERESTING: Anxiety is far from a new thing. In the 4th century BC, Hippocrates wrote that anxiousness is “a difficult disease. The patient thinks he has something like a thorn, something pricking him in his viscera, and nausea torments him.”
EXPs of the anger-anxiety connection
• Irritation: Being anxious all the time can make us annoyed & miserable (“Don’t bother me!”), which can lead to more frustration & anger
• Loss of Control : Being out of control for a long time is very painful & draining. But having to suppress our rage about it for many years creates its own anxiety – making us scared of ‘loosing it’, of not being able to hold it all down – because if were to let the rage out it would severely hurt others
• Blaming: Continually being in unhealthy relationships leaves us with plenty of anger. If it’s unsafe to admit or feel it, it gets turned in on ourselves as S-H. When this becomes too great to bear, it gets projected out onto the world – usually towards everyone except the ones who originally injured us – passing blame for our woes onto others as a way of explaining the anxiety.
NEXT: Issues for angry-nice people