I LOSE MYSELF IN ESCAPE
when I can’t face my anger
PREVIOUS: Ways to react (#2)
LEVELS of anger – Variations
5. Anger EXPRESSIONS (CHART by Don Lehman Jr ↘️)
e. Last – Compassionate Confrontation – in next Post (#4)
a. Flight = (internal) running away from someone who’s angry or causing our anger. This can take the form of shutting down emotionally, physical paralysis, leaving the situation as soon as possible & avoiding angry people / situations permanently (isolation).
Sometimes the Flight response encourages aggression in the other person, if they feel disrespected or abandoned, adding to our Fear/Terror
Flight in adults is:
√ most often an inappropriate response to a current event – which may in fact not be abusive at all but is experienced that way – as a PTSD reaction from long-term childhood trauma
√ appropriate when there’s a very real present-day abuser we need to get away from, which can be emotional & psychological, or a threat of imminent physical danger
b. Depression = (internal), when anger is not dealt with, & gets turned inward at one self. The combination becomes a vicious cycle that’s hard to break
• Lashing out can cause guilt & alienation, leading to depression, OR
• Long-term depression can make emotions overwhelming, increasing the likelihood of anger outbursts. Breaking this cycle usually requires therapy & sometimes meds. Al-Anon & Spirituality helps too.
c. Fight = (external) a verbally or physically violent confrontation, either to what’s ‘causing’ the anger or to the angry person. Usually a Fear cover-up reaction, the other half the Fight-Flight response hard-wired into out brain for protection.
— appropriate when we or someone / something we love is threatened
— not appropriate in most current cases (also PTSD)
• Some people accidentally step on our emotional land-mines & get blasted
• Some are perpetrators who use anger to get ‘a rise’ out of others, which many ACoAs will fall for, since we have hidden reservoirs of anger easily tapped into
• Unhealthy people who know us well, know our buttons & can always push them to punish or get back at us
• Narcissists can easily get us riled up because of their inability to consider us at all, as if we didn’t exist…….
d. Revenge = (external, indirect) is a retreat, in order to attack later (Passive-Aggressive), & can be habitual but unconscious.
When it’s deliberate, it includes obsessive planning in between injury & retaliation.
Considered consciously, these angry people start by evaluating the possibility of winning or losing. Because of the emotional intensity, they can easily overestimate their personal power – getting into unnecessary losing battles (Fight).
Revenge & Fight responses are linked:
– Anger victims’ desire for revenge (control) can escalate problems
– Revenge is retaliation for an injury (real or not). If someone is truly in a powerless position, it may seem the only option to express ‘displeasure’
Both often lead to increasing external damage, because each pour gasoline on the emotional fire
– may vow to never again let themselves be vulnerable, so becoming hostile to others on the theory that “a good offense is the best defense”
– may over-generalize & want to take revenge on an entire group (all men, all minorities….), only some of whom may have actually harmed them
– may be reinforced & rewarded for being a bully, find that it helps raise their ‘street cred’. (CHART – good info)
• However, if their emotions don’t overcome reason & they figure they’ll lose by using a frontal attack, (Fight) they’ll resorts to the P-A Revenge response. Punishment is then dealt out just as in Fight, but done later – when least expected, maybe in small doses & anonymously, or can come in disguised form.
◀️ NOTE: Not Included in Lehman’s Chart, but part of the reactive sequence:
Freeze – Blanking out / dissociated, can’t talk, muscles get physically “scared stiff. Freezing is fight-or-flight on hold, where you further prepare to protect yourself. It’s also called reactive immobility or attentive immobility. It involves similar physical changes, but instead you stay completely still & get ready for the next move.
NEXT: Ways to react (Part 4)