Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Nature of Anger #childabuse #survivors

It is very important that as survivors we are able to express our anger safely. I was angry at life for years. The anger did not necessarily have any rationale behind it at the time, it was generalised but aimed mostly inwards. I was angry at myself for allowing my life to messed up by others. I learnt to recognise this anger for what it was and though I still get angry today it is usually expressed in a safe manner. I stopped blaming myself for everything and also stopped making excuses for myself. I took control of my anger and turned it into a positive and constructive energy. This article by Steve Bevan of AMSOSA highlights the issues of anger very well.
THE NATURE OF ANGER
Quite simply, the anger that you often feel comes from frustration, and if not allowed to express itself, it comes through as depression, or even violence, against yourself, others or both.



Anger varies in intensity from mild irritation to intense rage. Like all other emotions, it's accompanied by physiological and biological changes; so when you get angry, your heart rate and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones and adrenaline
Anger is either caused by external and internal events, so you can be angry at a specific person (Such as a partner, co-worker, supervisor) an event (a traffic jam, a cancelled flight), or your anger could be caused by worrying or brooding about your personal problems. Memories of traumatic or enraging events can also trigger angry feelings.

EXPRESSING ANGERThe instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Anger is a natural, although adaptive response to threats; in becoming angry, it inspires powerful, aggressive, feelings and behaviours, which allows you to fight and defend yourself when under attack. An amount of anger is therefore necessary to your survival.
But, you can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us; as laws, and common sense places limits on how far your anger can take you.
People use a variety of approaches to show their anger:
The three main approaches are 
1. Expressing.
2. Suppressing.
3. Calming.

(1.) Expressing your angry feelings in an assertive manner is the healthiest way to express anger. You have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive isnt about being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.
(2.) Anger can be suppressed, and then converted or redirected. This happens when you hold in your anger, stop thinking about it, and focus on something positive. The aim is to inhibit or suppress your anger and convert it into more constructive behaviour. The danger in this type of response is that if it isn't allowed outward expression, your anger can turn inward—on yourself. Anger turned inward may cause hypertension, high blood pressure, or depression.
Unexpressed anger creates other problems, leading to pathological expressions of anger, such as passive-aggressive behaviour (getting back at people indirectly, without telling them why, rather than confronting them head-on) or a personality that seems perpetually cynical and hostile. People who are constantly putting others down, criticizing everything, and making cynical comments haven't learned how to constructively express their anger. Not surprisingly, they aren't likely to have many successful relationships.
(3.) Finally, you can calm down inside. This means not just controlling your outward behaviour, but also controlling your internal responses, taking steps to lower your heart rate, calm yourself down, and let the feelings subside.
CAUTION! When none of these three techniques work, that's when someone—or something—is going to get hurt.





ANGER MANAGEMENT
The goal of anger management is to reduce both your emotional feelings and the physiological arousal that anger causes. You can't get rid of, or avoid, the things or the people that enrage you, nor can you change them, but you can learn to control your reactions.


EVER TOLD THAT YOU TOO ANGRY?
There are psychological tests that measure the intensity of angry feelings, how prone to anger you are, and how well you handle it. But chances are good that if you do have a problem with anger, you already know it. If you find yourself acting in ways that seem out of control and frightening, you might need help finding better ways to deal with this emotion.


WHY ARE SOME PEOPLE ANGRIER THAN OTHERS?
Some people really are more "hotheaded" than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don't show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don't always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill.
People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride, and they're particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake.


WHAT MAKES THESE PEOPLE THIS WAY?
A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it or channel it constructively.
Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.


IS IT GOOD TO "LET IT ALL HANG OUT?"
This is a dangerous myth. Some people use this theory as a licence to hurt others. Research has found that "letting rip" with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you're angry with) resolve the situation.
It's best to find out what triggers off your anger, and then devise some strategies to keep those triggers from tipping you over the edge.


STRATEGIES TO KEEP ANGER AT BAY
RELAXATION
Simple relaxation tools, such as deep breathing and relaxing imagery, can help calm down angry feelings. If you are involved in a relationship where both partners are hot-tempered, it might be a good idea for both of you to learn these techniques.
SOME SIMPLE STEPS YOU CAN TRY:
Breathe deeply, from your diaphragm; breathing from your chest won't relax you. Picture your breath coming up from your "gut."
Slowly repeat a calm word or phrase such as "relax," "take it easy." Repeat it to yourself while breathing deeply.
Use imagery; visualize a relaxing experience, from either your memory or your imagination.
Non strenuous, slow yoga-like exercises can relax your muscles and make you feel much calmer. Practice these techniques daily. Learn to use them automatically when you're in a tense situation.


COGNITIVE RESTRUCTURING
Simply put, this means changing the way you think. Angry people tend to curse, swear, or speak in highly colourful terms that reflect their inner thoughts. When you're angry, your thinking can get very exaggerated and overly dramatic. Try replacing these thoughts with more rational ones. For instance, instead of telling yourself, "oh, it's awful, it's terrible, everything's ruined," tell yourself, "it's frustrating, and it's understandable that I'm upset about it, but it's not the end of the world and getting angry is not going to fix it anyhow."
Avoid using words like "never" or "always" when talking about yourself or someone else. "This fucking machine never works," or "you're always fucking forgetting things" are not just inaccurate, they also serve to make you feel that your anger is justified and that there's no way to solve the problem. They also alienate and humiliate people who might otherwise be willing to work with you on a solution.
Remember, getting angry won't fix anything, it won't make you feel better and may actually make you feel worse.
Using logic defeats anger, because anger, even if justified, quickly becomes irrational. Remind yourself that the world is "not out to get you," you're just experiencing some of the rough spots in daily life.
Do this each time you feel anger getting the best of you, it will enable you to get a more balanced perspective. Angry people tend to demand things: fairness, appreciation, agreement, willingness to do things their way. Everyone wants these things, and we can get hurt and disappointed when we don't get them, but angry people demand them, and when their demands aren't met, their disappointment becomes anger.
As part of their cognitive restructuring, angry people need to be aware of their demanding nature and translate their expectations into desires. In other words, saying, "I would like" something is healthier than saying, "I demand" or "I must have" something. When you're unable to get what you want, you will experience the normal reactions—frustration, disappointment, hurt—but not anger. Some angry people use this anger as a way to avoid feeling hurt, but that doesn't mean the hurt goes away.


PROBLEM SOLVING? OR DEALING WITH A CHALLENGE?
Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. Not all anger is misplaced, and often it's a healthy, natural response to these difficulties. There is also a cultural belief that every problem has a solution, and it adds to our frustration to find out that this isn't always the case. The best attitude to bring to such a situation, then, is not to focus on finding the solution, but rather on how you handle and face the problem.
Surely its better to see any problem in a positive way, by renaming it as a challenge, which makes it more achievable, and workable.
Make a plan, and check your progress along the way. Resolve to give it your best, but also not to punish yourself if an answer doesn't come right away. If you can approach it with a good effort, making a serious attempt to face it head-on, you will be less likely to lose patience and fall into all-or-nothing thinking, even if the problem does not get solved right away.


BETTER COMMUNICATION
Angry people tend to jump to—and act on—conclusions, and some of those conclusions can be very inaccurate. The first thing to do if you're in a heated discussion is slow down and think through your responses. Don't say the first thing that comes into your head, but slow down and think carefully about what you want to say. At the same time, listen carefully to what the other person is saying and take your time before answering.
Listen to what is underlying the anger. For instance, you like a certain amount of freedom and personal space, and your "significant other" wants more connection and closeness. If he or she starts complaining about your activities, don't retaliate by painting your partner as a jailer, a warden, or an albatross around your neck.
It's natural to get defensive when you're criticized, but don't fight back. Instead, listen to what's underlying the words: the message that this person might feel neglected and unloved. It may take a lot of patient questioning on your part, and it may require some breathing space, but don't allow your anger - or a partner's - let a discussion spin out of control. Keeping your cool can keep the situation from becoming a disastrous one.


USING HUMOUR
"Silly humour" can help defuse rage in a number of ways. For one thing, it can help you get a more balanced perspective. When you get angry and call someone a name or refer to them in some imaginative phrase, stop and picture what that word would literally look like. Do this whenever a name comes into your head about another person. If you can, draw a picture of what the actual thing might look like. This will take a lot of the edge off your fury; and humour can always be relied on to help unknot a tense situation.
The underlying message of highly angry people is "things have to go my way!" Angry people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any blocking or changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should NOT have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them!
When you feel that urge, picture yourself as a god, a supreme ruler, who owns the streets and stores and office space, striding alone and having your way in all situations while others defer to you. The more detail you can get into your imaginary scenes, the more chances you have to realise that you are being unreasonable; you'll also realize how unimportant the things you're angry about really are. There are two cautions in using humour.
First, don't try to just "laugh off" your problems; rather, use humour to help yourself face them more constructively. Second, don't give in to harsh, sarcastic humour; that's just another form of unhealthy anger expression.
What these techniques have in common is a refusal to take yourself too seriously. Anger is a serious emotion, but it's often accompanied by ideas that, if examined, can make you laugh.


CHANGING YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Sometimes it's our immediate surroundings that give us cause for irritation and fury. Problems and responsibilities can weigh on you and make you feel angry at the "trap" you seem to have fallen into and all the people and things that form that trap.
Give yourself a break. Get out of the room or place or away from the persom or people that is causing you to feel angry.
Make sure you have some "personal time" scheduled for times of the day that you know are particularly stressful.


MORE TIPS FOR EASING UP ON YOURSELF
Timing: If you and your partner tend to fight when you discuss things at night, perhaps you're tired, or distracted, or maybe it's just habit — try changing the times when you talk about important matters so these talks don't turn into arguments.
Avoidance: If someones chaotic behaviour makes you furious, dont allow them to anger to you anymore, its not your problem!. That's not the point. The point is to keep yourself calm.
Finding alternatives: If you have to commute through traffic every day and it leaves you in a state of rage and frustration, give yourself a project — learn or map out a different route, one that's less congested or more scenic. Or find another alternative, such as a bus or train.


WHAT ABOUT ASSERTIVENESS TRAINING?It's true that angry people need to learn to become assertive (rather than aggressive), but most books and courses on developing assertiveness are aimed at people who don't feel enough anger. Those people are more passive and acquiescent than the average person; they tend to let others walk all over them. That isn't something that most angry people do. Still, these books can contain some useful tactics to use in frustrating situations.
Remember, you can't eliminate anger — and it wouldnt be a good idea if you could. In spite of all your efforts, things will happen that will cause you anger; and sometimes it will be justifiable anger. Life will be filled with frustration, pain, loss, and the unpredictable actions of others. You can't change that; but you can change the way you let such events affect you. Controlling your angry responses can keep them from making you even more unhappy in the long run.


DO YOU ALLOW OTHER TO MAKE YOU ANGRY?
Here is a simple and effective way of calming your anger down

If you find yourself getting angry over what may seem to be trivial matters or allowing other people or perhaps just inanimate objects really get to you, read on, this may just work...it works for me anyway, and allows me to remain calm, in control and get even all in one easy move.
Quite simply, I do not allow anyone or anything to make me feel or get me mad, if it did, I would end up feeling stupid for allowing it to, so heres what I do .
If anyone does or says something that demeans me in any way, perhaps making me feel small, stupid or even says something that I disagree with, whatever it may be, I let them know, straight away! I dont get express it angrily, or shout at them, I simply tell them that while they have right to say what they think, so do I and let them know that their comments or actions has pissed me off, and I dont like being pissed off.
I usually ask them what gave them the right to think they could treat me that way, and did they think I wouldnt answer back or give my opinion on what they said or done?
A SCENARIO FOR YOU TO CONSIDER;
As one of the younger members of my family, I was always treated as such, and on visits back to see them, they automatically tried to put me back in the 'baby brother' role of the family and treated me accordingly.
Wrong move to make! I am no longer that child, and no longer willing to play the inane games that families continue to play, and made them aware that I'm not who I was, and if they want to play games, to go find another playmate!
And thats it.. I give it (the anger) back to them, and by doing so, give them back the shit they tried to lay on me, and make it very clear that I dont like or will allow anyone to piss me off.
People always seem to be quiet surprised that I dared to answer back, as they are used to people taking it and not having a say on the matter.
I do all this calmly, without raising my voice, without making them look stupid, letting them know they made a mistake in thinking I would not say anything and take their issues on without question.
They often look shocked that someone spoke back to them, and stand confused as to what to say back to me.
They also understand not to mess with me at any time, and if they choose to do so, to expect me to have no part in taking on their games.
I offer my time and energy to anyone who wants to sit down and talk, but if they think they can mess with me, they are sadly mistaken!
Many years ago, I got involved in a disagreement at work, and walked away, becoming angry that I had allowed a person to make me feel angry, so I went back and let him know how his behaviour had made me feel, and in the process made him feel the same way.
I was then able to walk away, knowing that he would never again talk to me in that way, and that I wouldnt allow anyone else in my life to give me shit that belongs to them
All they do is try to make you play their game, so change the game, and in doing so, make sure you win.
I use my adult logic, and refuse to allow anyone to do something I dont like, and that way, I remain in control of myself and my emotions.
So what I'm trying to say is that if anyone tries to make you feel small, put you down, or even wind you up by they say about you or an issue you firmly believe in, give it back to them, and dont take on their stuff or react in way that you could regret later.
p.s. 99.9% of the time, I use my Adult Logic to deal with any issues, but when I do get angry, its with just reason, and I dont allow it to remain with me, I give it back to whoever made me angry!
This article copyright to Steve Bevan, AMSOSA UK.

1 comment:

OwlJulie said...

Hi, I have been looking for some indepth information to use to guide me in working with my anger. I found your blogpost and it would help me very much if I could have a copy of it.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...