ACoAs – What about ANGER? (Part 1)

frustrationI’M SO FRUSTRATED
I don’t know what to do with myself

PREVIOUS: New Year Celebration

BOOK: Metaphor & Emotion, seeing the body as container for emotions: “She unleashed her anger, his anger is smoldering, you make by blood boil…..”

BASICs the more we know about something, the easier it is to understand, deal with & be in charge of it. So it is with anger.

1. Anger is a perfectly normal emotion – created by the physiology of our brain & body. It’s not only universal, but absolutely necessary, and NOT something to be cured as if it were a disease.

Anger is a healthy reaction to a grievance, so one of its positive intentions is to focus our attention – so we can modify or eliminate an aggravation or abuse, wherever possible. The benefits of appropriately expressing it include overcoming our fears, & building confidence to respond to threats, danger & mistreatment.

The problem is not in having (feeling) the emotion (E),
►but rather in what we’re saying (T) to ourselves about a situation which greatly upsets us,
▶︎and the kind of behavior (A) we use to express it, based on what we learned as kids.
We need to FEEL our anger, but we do not always need to outwardly E. HEAT mapACT it out on others!

2. Like all emotions, anger is actual energy – no matter how intense – scientifically proven, as seen on these scans.
Heat maps of emotions —->

3. Anger is considered one of the secondary emotions – a response to primary Es such as intense FEAR (from being abandoned, attacked, disrespected, forced, offended, pressured, trapped…..). This does not mean it’s unimportant or to be ignored.
It’s secondary because it’s a composite of other more fundamental ones (Plutchik’s 8 Primary Es), AND because it can’t tell us directly what the underlying unmet NEED is, only that something is wrong.

🔹  However, it is a very useful starting point. Instead of being afraid of it, we can successfully use anger, guilt, anxiety…. as helpful indicators of what’s going on in the background (unconscious), giving us the opportunity & choice to ‘fix’ the real lack, which would then make us feel better.
The problem for ACoAs with solving this Q. (‘What’s missing?’) is that we’re not allowed to know what we really feel NOR what we actually need.
So these 2 aspects have to become part of our understanding & daily vocabulary before anger can be a useful tool.

4. Anger is part of the Wood Element – which governs the eyes, gallbladder, FiveChart2liver, & tendons. In the short-term, & by itself (without action), the emotion itself is not harmful.
But because it is energy, generated by chemicals in the brain, we can damage ourselves in PMES ways when we suppress the anger / rage, especially for a long time. The chemicals can ‘fester’ inside & cause a variety of problems (headaches, high BP, auto-immune illness…. ).

Denied anger results in lowered quality of life, causing mental & emotional numbness, which can then draw us toward violent situations as a release. It will also negatively effect many parts of the body, such as the:
√ Muscular (tightness) & Immune (over-worked) systems
√ Liver – causing our decision-making abilities to be diminished
√ Gall bladder – causing gallstones (condensed anger) & migraines

✤ At the other extreme is acting out the anger in ways that directly injure ourselves & others – especially when aimed at children.

5. How each person reacts (emotional intensity + behavior patterns) is formed by a combination of : genetic predispositions, cognitive problem solving skills, family / culturally-learned behaviors & past experiences

6. We hear even ‘respected ‘speakers’ talking about “negative emotion”. Wrong!
Es are either degrees of 🔺pleasurable OR degrees of 🔻painful.

NEVER think or talk about anger & other uncomfortable / ‘unacceptable’ / painful emotions AS negatives!
Anything designated as a negative is automatically considered bad – which in this case means we should not be angry, under any circumstances.

NOT so. Without feeling & owning legitimate anger – we are easily abused, frightened & manipulated – & so become or stay victims.

: What about anger? – Part 2

Backlash of Over-Control (Part 1)

or I’ll explode!

PREVIOUS: Price to pay for Over S-C

SEE: ACRONYM page for abbrev.


HEALTHY age-appropriate self-control (self-management) is an integral part of mental health, which comes from the ‘UNIT’ ego state.  But constant self-restraint, from S-H & FoA, can backfire.  Among other things it ties up a lot of our energy resources.
Eventually we break down or blow up.

1. Self-Restraint & Aggression 
• Past studies in the Journal of Consumer Behavior showed that exerting too much self-control can increase irritability & anger
• New research also found that making a constant effort to stop ourselves from ‘undesirable’ actions can backfire:

a. Extreme self-discipline contains the seeds of its own undoieventually explodeng – an explosive failure-of-control called “dis-inhibition.”  People who are trapped in this pattern can suddenly shift from one unhealthy extreme (being ‘perfect’) to the other – acting out a rebellion against too many self-imposed restrictions over too long a time (becoming a ‘failure’).

b. People who consistently suppress emotions & behaviors, in a variety of ways, most often end up in emotional distress & with cognitive disruption – loss of mental clarity while obsessing about the very things they’re not ‘allowed’ to do!

• Participants in one study were chosen by 2 criteria – those who did vs. did not restrain themselves emotionally – to see how each would react to neutral things presented to them labeled as ‘angry’ or ‘not angry’.  Different categories of self-control were chosen & subjects’ behaviors noted. RESULTS :

Observations re. ‘restricters
✼ they more often preferred the ‘angry’ options
✼ the active dieters preferred public service ads framed in threats
✼ those who carefully controlled their spending of a gift certificate were more interested in looking at angry faces than fearful ones
✼ those who picked an apple over chocolate were more irritated by ads with controlling phrases like “you ought to” or “need to,” & were more likely to choose movies with a theme of hostility over other genre

ACoAs: It makes sense that the more we deny our legitimate needs, the angrier – & more depressed – we get!  But this does not mean that it’s OK to blow people off because we happen to be in a bad mood or feel overwhelmed (not letting them know we’re unavailable or have changed a plan), nor to harm anyone when we’re in a rage.

2. Self-Control & Prejudice
A study from Tufts University showed that deliberate, continual self-control can cause emotional unease & guarded behavior, which could be misinterpreted as racial prejudice in some circumstances
• Researchers ran 2 group of white volunteers through a series of computer-based mental exercises:
— one group’s set was so stressful that the participants were temporarily depleted of the mental reserves needed for discipline
— the other group was given a less stressful set of exercises

• Once the subjects were finished, they met with either a white or African-AM interviewer & discussed racial diversity, a social situation with the potential for racial tension.
Later, subjects rated the interaction with the interviewer for comfort, awkwardness & enjoyment.
• Those who wprejudiceere mentally depleted (lacked discipline & self-control) talked about race with a African-AM interviewer more enjoyably than those with their self-control intact, presumably because they weren’t working as hard to monitor or curb what they said
• Also, independent African-AM observers found that the exhausted / powerless & therefore less ‘uptight’ whites were much more direct, real & less prejudiced in conversations

✶ CONCLUSION: Relinquishing power over oneself (temporarily) seems to prevent over-thinking & so ‘liberate’ people to be more authentic, which could benefit both individuals & society

ACoAs: Of course this study does not imply it’s OK to be unruly or a doormat – as a result of lowered inhibitions.
It’s about “Letting Go” of anxiety, looking good, projecting failure, fear of disapproval, trying to be seen, heard, accepted …. but rather just being open-hearted & in the moment. Then we can enjoy ourselves, be respectful & put others at ease.

NEXT: Backlash, Part 2