Running From Anger

Running from anger

Running from anger

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the dangers of running from anger and offer solutions to setting yourself free from anger.

First a quick update:

“3 Tips for daily happiness”
Read my simple but highly effective 3 tips to daily boost your happiness

Now, let’s talk about anger, the dangers of running away from it and the solutions to setting yourself free from anger.

Anger is an emotional response to:

  1. Feeling hurt or injured (by an action or event)
  2. Not getting what one wanted
  3. A violation or injustice (even if the violation is done to someone else)

Anger is a normal response and emotion and it only becomes a serious concern or dangerous depending on the way we respond or react to it or when it begins to control us.

Anger is often the first response, although in some cases it might be preceded by other emotions such as frustration or anxiety. And given that it is often an initial or immediate reaction, beneath it are various emotions such as disappointment, fear, loss, sadness, hurt, worthlessness and so forth.

There are typically three responses or reactions to anger:

1. Aggression
Aggression is often the conscious attempt to control or change the situation via hostile, destructive or revengeful behavior; it can also be a biological response such as the “Fight or Flight” response which automatically prepares our body to run or respond violently when threatened. And in some cases, such as road rage, we might respond violently because we feel our safety has been threatened and we feel in danger. Aggression can be expressed physically, verbally or symbolically. Aggression is often the externally-directed response to anger. An example is when we try to pay someone back for a perceived wrong or we try to cut them down, undermine, sabotage or verbally abuse them. A physical example is when we kick the car or machine because we are angry that it is not working and the physical kicking can be the release of frustration and the displacement of anger or it can be an emotional attempt to make the car or machine start or work properly.

Aggressive responses destroy our lives and sometimes the lives of others when we begin to abuse or attack people we love, when we begin to make the vulnerable ones our scapegoats or our constant rage and anger ravages our body leading to hypertension, stroke and heart attack.

2. Suppression/repression
Suppression is the conscious action of trying to control or deny the pain. Repression is the subconscious action of rejecting or hiding the pain from the conscious mind. Suppression also refers to running away from the emotion or trying to distract oneself from the pain and anger, which, in turn, can lead to addictions or self-destructive behavior – drugs, alcohol, self-mutilation and so forth. Suppressed anger also causes a host of aliments – headaches, insomnia, nightmares, back pains, indigestion, tension, bouts of crying, depression, feelings of weakness, hopelessness, and so forth. For example, if someone betrays or lies to you, and you respond by denying the significance of the action or you deny your pain and hurt, then you are suppressing the anger, hurt and other emotions. You might also be denying the truth behind the event (your role or responsibility.)

An example of repression is the conscious knowledge that one was abused while also possessing a conscious feeling or thought that it wasn’t such a big deal (this is a common response amongst many survivors of abuse who repress their pain and anger because it was overwhelming at the time and it was the only way to survive the abuse.)

Running away and searching for constant distractions is equally harmful as it destroys our relationships or prevents us from expressing and experiencing love, and prevents us from feeling fully alive i.e. experiencing the full range of emotions. Note that most addicts use addiction as a way to numb a feeling or create a feeling – to avoid feeling pain and to mask the pain or to try and feel good after becoming numb. All addictive and obsessive behaviors block one’s ability to be able to enjoy life and the moment. Running away from anger (and thus pain) by constantly distracting oneself from one’s truth only creates more pain as it further complicates and sabotages one’s life.

3. Reframing/restructuring
Reframing and restructuring is the action of internally changing one’s perception of an external event. This implies moving from reaction to understanding – seeking to view the triggering event from a different angle; working towards a full picture and explanation of all the possible causes of the event and, if no clear explanation exists, then moving to point of acceptance. For example, seeking to understand the motivations of a cheating partner (not excusing or justifying the behavior) but rather learning all of the causes of the person’s behavior and then seeking to explore and understand all the causes of your behavior in the relationship. Another example is a flood that destroys a home. While there is no clear explanation (a natural disaster) the resolution exists in accepting the event and its consequences and the next step – to work towards rebuilding a new future.

Using the third response (Reframing/restructuring) as resolution to anger is only part of the solution. You can never be set free from anger until you are willing to face the host of emotions that exist beneath the anger – betrayal, abandonment, sadness, loss, grief, disappointment, despair, anxiety, fear, failure, pain, loneliness, worthlessness, rejection, guilt, insecurity, uncertainty, and so forth.

Simply put one must face the full scope of the anger and the event – understanding the event from all perspectives and facing and releasing the emotions attached and associated with the triggering event.

Can you face the pain? Are you willing to feel the pain?

You don’t have to stay stuck in it but you must face it. And when you face the pain, it tends to dissipate quickly.

When you begin to list out all of the emotions (and expectations) surrounding the event, you will also become aware of the beliefs you attached to the event before and after it.

Once you can fully accept every emotion you feel and experience and once you have identified all of your beliefs and expectations you can move towards accepting what is; accepting what you can’t change –and focusing on the determination to change and control only that which you can change and control.

And the truth shall set you free.

Face your truth and beware of running from it.

To learn more about anger and how to overcome it, read my articles “How to control anger” and “The roots of anger” where I offer more strategies to being set free emotionally. Also watch the YouTube video where I used hypnosis to help a woman release and reframe her anger

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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