Anger is a natural physical and emotional signal when there is a perceived threat or danger to your mental, physical, or emotional well being. It’s an alert for you to gather information and to take action to protect yourself. In caveman days the alert was to either run away from the saber-toothed tiger or kill it - and if the anger signal was ignored, the danger was of becoming the tiger’s dinner.
In our current world when we feel anger, we are expected to be polite, calm, and often ignore this valuable signal. There is an old Greek saying, “The messenger never rests until the message is delivered!” In other words, the number one job of our unconscious mind is to take whatever measures are available for the survival of our system - we need to listen up and make a plan of action!
On the continuum of the emotions of anger the feeling begins as a minor annoyance, then moves to irritation, frustration, mad, (blame and judgment enter here) anger, rage, and eventually can lead to violence. Depending on the perceived threat or danger, the emotions can move from annoyed to rage in a millisecond! Once the adrenalin rush of chemistry is triggered, we move from logical, rational thought to fight, flight, or freeze.
The noise of a fire alarm is a signal to alert us of danger; we don't expect the fire alarm to put out the fire. Our job is to take action to get to safety first! Then we can begin to assess the authenticity of the signal (it could be a false alarm), and what actions are needed to protect ourselves and loved ones.
Sadly, often a child is taught to deny or ignore natural emotional signals rather than how to take appropriate action. The child is placated or punished with messages of “don’t be angry, don’t be afraid, don’t be a baby (cry), don't be so selfish (want)” - might as well tell the child, “just don’t be!”
As we are socialized from the developmental stages of raw emotion, some results of ineffective or negative parenting can be stuffed resentments, mixed messages of how to be safe in the world, limiting beliefs for how to fit into the world such as, ”I’m not good enough…, I don’t deserve…, my opinion doesn’t matter, I don’t matter so I’m not allowed to speak up or set a boundary…It’s all my fault…” and more. These hidden or unresolved messages create confusion for how to be safe in the world and contribute to having a lack of self-control, self-responsibility, or honoring our own sense of right and wrong.
As adults, we have had opportunities to develop skills to be able to control our temper and behave in socially acceptable ways - this is called maturing! A quote from Al Sargent is, “Wisdom is when experience and knowledge shake hands!” When a current event triggers a person to behave from an earlier developmental stage this is called Age Regression. This is where the temper tantrum of the 2-year-old is played out in a physical adult’s body yet with often the same ineffective results of the child.
So how do you gain knowledge from your experiences? How do you develop this sense of maturity now, which promotes the wisdom for living a joyful life with respect and honor for self and then for others?
People talk about “anger management” and the tools of being responsible for our actions and expressed emotions. There are many helpful check-lists for what to do to calm down, take a breath, speak your truth, meditate, negotiate for win-win results, etc. However, in order for these helpful suggestions for anger management to work, we may need to go deeper into our existing beliefs or behaviors which are creating an inner conflict between our conscious values and our external behaviors. This internal war shows up because of conflicted and ineffective thoughts and behavioral reactions leading to regret, remorse, blaming, guilt, judgment, and the destruction of relationships.
If you are struggling with relationship challenges within your self or with others, we urge you to take charge increase your knowledge of all of the elements of your amazing system of states and strategies: Your attitude and states of being, your external behaviors and strategies, and your internal thinking and computations.
Give us a call at 310-729-5664 for a free initial consultation and visit our web site at www.repoweryourlife.com to get started on building the life and relationships for you to thrive!
All the best,
Al & Marilyn Sargent
RePower Your Life with communication skills for living a life in balance, on purpose!