Anger – TRIGGERS (Part 1)

that can set me off!

PREVIOUS: Negative Uses (#2)


Series of POSTs : “What Just Happened? – Noticing painful events”


a Trigger + our point of view about it + our personal temperament = anger (but not always or for everyone)
Our Anger reaction to PPT is usually a combination of internal & external factors. Sometimes external events that bother us are actually positive or neutral, but because of internal damage (WIC & PP) we automatically get angry.  EXP – for ACoAs:
√ being accused wrongly enrages us
√ being accused rightly terrifies us (then we get angry or defensive)

• While there are legitimate reasons for reacting, under the anger are ‘sensitive’ emotions we may not want to admit to, such as loneliness, need, loss, abandonment pain, fear, sadness….. making us feel too vulnerable.

Everyone has some triggers, based on our personality & childhood experiences. Anyone interested in personal growth needs to identify their specific buttons, to better manage verbal & physical responses. (Iceberg)

1. INTERNAL Triggers
a. EMOTIONALLY , the Big-3 inevitable triggers – are:
HURT – to our feelings, our integrity, an important loss, an insult to anyone / anything we love…..
• SCARED – Physical or emotional danger
EXP: Man on bike with little son on the back almost gets side-swiped by a bus pulling to the curb, making him yell & hit the bus with his fist as he turns that same corner
FRUSTRATED – whenever someone /thing blocks us from reaching a goal (big or small), especially if it’s very important to us, or if it’s been for a long time

b.  Our own PERSONALITY – as mentioned elsewhere, genetics plays a part in our temperament. Some are more easily revved up when something goes wrong for them. (Enneagram 8s, certain astrological  ‘Squares’, or positions such as Mars in Scorp……)

c.  EXPECTATIONS – too High or unrealistic (re. others)
When held as demands, they usually create a lack of frustration-tolerance, leading to inappropriate anger-expressions, including :
√ a deeply rooted belief that our circumstances & people ‘have to / need to’ be exactly as we want
√ a tendency to lecture people on how they ‘should’ / ‘should not’ behave (MORE….)

d.  DISTORTIONS – cognitive (CDs) & Toxic Beliefs S-H
such as : awfulizing, blaming, discomfort-intolerance, mind-reading, filtering, perfectionism….. At best they will lead to disappointment & frustration, at worst to Self-Hate & rage.
False beliefs cause anxiety, & sometimes aggression, in an effort to ward off perceived threats to our well-being OR self-image

CDs cause us to misinterpret facts, events, or other people’s actions as threats to achieving our goals, or as attacks on our dignity, rules or property. This ends in wrong conclusions, leading to harmful reactions (DRAWING)

e. IMPULSIVENESS (poor emotional control)
While some of us are naturally more ‘sensitive’ than others, impulsive reactions can usually be traced back to our WIC, filled with anxiety from past trauma. The more anxiety, the more easily stress gets expressed as bursts of anger.
Some only let it out around people we’re close too, others only toward strangers. But instantaneous over-reactions tell us the Amygdala is in charge, not the Cortex. That’s why it’s considered psychologically immature.

🔥ANGER CYCLEunhealthy responses to events which hurt, frustrate of scare us :
1. Trigger – by a loss, words, actions or anything that will set off anger
2. Internal Reaction – pain, letting us know that something’s ‘wrong’

3. Intensification –  a chemical flush released in the brain, which dramatically increases heart rate & breathing.
This can give a volatile person an excuse to justify how they’re feeling, but most of the time the anger is from distorted thinking.

4. External Barrier Break – some obvious signs of anger can be clearly seen by others, such as crying, angry gestures, shouting verbal threats….
5. Explosive Peak – a verbally &/or physically violent expression of anger. Dangerous to others, but also to ourself – by saying or doing things we may not really mean but will get us in trouble

6. Exhaustion & Withdrawal – when the anger / rage had died down or dissipated, then intense self-judgment follows
7. Final Stage
a. Remorse & Apology : with some people – when they realize they’ve over-reacted – will admit their error & apologize
b. Intense Justification : others (especially narcissists) will not admit they’ve done/said anything wrong, & find a ‘good’ reason for their behavior, including blaming others for causing their upset

REPEAT the above pattern – Whether one is a chronic or occasional rager, without Pattern Correction, this cycle will continue.  (From DAMBREAKER)
(⬆️ Anger Cycle chart from extensive ClinMed article)

NEXT: Anger triggers (Part 2)

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