ACoAs – What about ANGER? (Part 2)


That’s all in the past, right?

PREVIOUS: ACoAs- What about anger (#1)

BOOK: Strategies for Survival in an Angry World”  ~ Dr Eva Bell


☁︎Anger – A temporary & episodic emotional reaction to a frustrating situation. It’s ‘rational’, because the cortex is still functioning, so the person can think & decide actions
▸ A strong, uncomfortable emotional response to something unwanted & not fitting with our values, beliefs or rights (triggered)

☔︎ Irritability –
 A milder feeling in reaction to minor annoyances that happen as part of our daily routine
➤Aggression – An intentional desire to harm someone or something

♨️ Rage – An “irrational” emotion – the un-reasoned, automatic, instinctive protection used to roughly push away danger to self or someone/ something vital & loved.
Often in the form of an explosion, sometime as completely irrational behavior (no conscious thought), sometimes very deliberate!

– An emotional feeling of distrust + a negative mental opinion of everyone (chronic antagonism), causing a person to indiscriminately harm or want to harm others.

🛑 Hate
• extreme hurt which has hardened into cold rage.
In childhood it accumulates from being powerless to stop repeated & relentless abuse & neglect.
As adults, it’s
a. from persistently blaming others for our problems, instead of finding & using valid ways out of bad situations
b. as Self-Hate – turning our legitimate rage at family & environment back on ourself
Psychologists consider the 2 most basic human emotions to be love & fear (Es), which colors our thinking (Ts) & so our actions (As). All other emotions are seen as nuances & variations.

😍 LOVE generates: caring, compassion, contentment, happiness, honesty, enjoyment, satisfaction, trust….  (Diagrams in Part 5)
❖ Unconditional LOVE is the only source of self-esteem!
(see Posts: “Being Loved“).  Healthy Love is what make a child feel safe, & Love is the all-powerful healer of wounds.

BUT – ACoAs did not experience a genuine sense of being loved, even if our parents said it or thought they did.
How do we know this? Because of the intense fear under everything we think, feel & do – seen in our S-H, FoA, PP….

🥶 FEAR generates : anger, anxiety, confusion, control, depression, guilt, hurt, inadequacy, loneliness, sadness, shame….

All ACoAs are fear-based, having been thru so much abuse, chaos, controlling, denial, judgement, lies, narcissism & neglect – to ever feel totally safe – without healing

And sooner or later – fear always generates ANGER. Being constantly scared – with no comfort, no relief, no explanations…. will pile up & turn into RAGE.
NOTE : counter-phobia & addiction-to-excitement are defenses, not lack of fear.
⬆️  Emotion GRAPHS – computer models from the Atlas of Emotions

★ Normally, all emotions are short-term, in-&-out reactions to some immediate event, & in this form – anger is not a problem. In fact, modern psychologists view anger as a mature emotion experienced by everyone at times, having survival value. When understood & accepted, it can often be used to correct life’s imbalances, although it’s not possible in every situation.

But when painful EMOs persist for days, months or years – from living in harmful situations – they got stockpiled, without having:
✦ permission to be experienced as true emotional responses to abuse & losses
✦ anyone to listen to us, identify them (give them words) or comfort us
✦ an opportunity to process the events, so we wouldn’t have to suppress or deny them

NOW, painful emotions are being held in place by toxic T.E.A.s:
◽️(T) The WIC / PP’s thinking in the form of CDs, mental obsessions about something unpleasant/ unacceptable, without understanding our interaction or participation in the problem

◽️(E) mountains of unprocessed pain accumulated from old hurts & unmet needs, suppressed awareness of all that hurt, in order to keep going (denial)

◽️(A) staying in harmful or inappropriate situations we know are not good for range of Esus, and continuing to live in self-deprivation (not enough company, education, finances, fun, love, rest, self-reflection, sex, support….)

REMINDER – Thoughts & Actions can be either Positive, Negative or Neutral,
 but EMOTIONS are never negative!
They can range from :
Joyful <—–> to most Painful (+/- 100)
       with the calmest, pleasantest in the mid-range (+/- 20).

NEXT: What about anger – Part 2

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

ACoAs dealing with ABUSERS (Part 1)


to tell!

PREVIOUS:  Denial & acting out

SITE: 15 Secret Signs You’re Actually Really Insecure

SEE: ACoAs Getting Controlled (1 & 2)


ACoAs are more than reluctant to speak up for ourselves. We hold it in & hold it in, then eventually explode at others, OR implode – into illness, depression & isolation.
We’re equally mute with people WHO:
• are actually abusive, whether they know it & don’t care, or have no idea what effect they’re having
• we just think are hurting us by something they said or by not reading our minds (giving us what we need without us having to ask for it), but they’re really not – they’re just pushing a button in us
• are not being abusive at all, but we’re afraid of hurting their feelings, scaring them away or -god forbid- make them angry at us!

Validation – We may need sane sources to help us identify ‘who did what’ but don’t go to the Perp. They deny or confuse. Al-Anon stresses “Detach! Let go” – with love, with hate, with humor… any way possible!
You wouldn’t demand that a person blind from birth should see colors! Don’t chase abusers – for anything, especially to admit they’re wrong!don't talk

a. The “DON’T TALK” rule   (they = parents / community), ABOUT WHAT :
• is actually going on in the family, don’t air dirty laundry – it’s no one else’s business
(family shame = family secrets)
• you need & want, since they can’t or don’t want to provide them
• you feel emotionally – they don’t want to hear it, they’re already in enough pain & don’t know how to deal with it, so don’t need yours too!
• your personal opinions, values & observations are – if they don’t fit in with the ‘party line’ (the ‘story’ created about the tribe we all belong to).

🤐 No matter how twisted, it’s our family & we protect it at all costs. These messages prevent some ACoAs from going to 12-Step programs &/or therapy – seeing it as disloyalty.

b. Co-dependence
Of course most people don’t want to ‘be in trouble’ with others, so we learn what’s appropriate to say or not say, especially in public.
But for ACoAs it’s always about FoA (fear of abandonment). Even as adults we’re afraid of unpleasant reactions from others – when they get angry at, dislike, make fun of – or worse – ignore us!

• Our co-dependence (needing others’ good-will to feel OK about ourself) drives us do anything we can to prevent anyone from expressing even slight disapproval, which will set off our S-H.
The WIC believes: “I’m so unlovable, no one really wants me & sooner or later will leave. Unless I can con them into accepting or at least  tolerating me – I’ll die”. So we think lying or silence is safer.

REALITY: MOST of how people respond to us has nothing to do with who we are – but the child’s narcissism takes everything personally.
In the present, anything that seems like an abandonment feels like punishment,
✎ ✐ rather than others just having their own feelings & opinions, OR are acting out their damage.
SITEFrom Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing 

c. Controlled
Another reason we’re silent is the brain-washing we received growing up. We were trained so thoroughly to ignore what we heard, saw & experienced – that we end up not seeing many things that are in front of us (”What insult?”), misreading a situation (“I’m sure they hate me”) or being unable to respond to a painful comment (“I wish I had said…..”).
POST: “ACoAs over-controlling ourself”

EXP:  No matter how articulate some of us are when we’re comfortable, there are times we get emotional brain-freeze.
It’s so-o-o frustrating that when we’re with someone who is being inappropriate, mean, insulting….  it triggers a childhood wound & we instantly shut down with terror, the reminder of family abuse being in total control.
At that moment we’ve lost our internal computer screen – it goes blank & we can’t think, much less talk. Yet as soon as we’re alone, the computer comes back on automatically & we know what we should have said! Darn, darn!

SITE: Emotional Complexity (Habituation, Inhibition, Constriction….) 

NEXT: Dealing with Abusers (Part 2)


No one acknowledged the suffering. They said it was just being ‘difficult’!

PREVIOUS: Emotional Needs & Innate Resources

DMT: I’m not a poet but wanted to include this one I wrote in 1975, as it reflects the emotions & sense of futility of a young person – a suffering GoA (grandchild of alcoholics), long before recovery, who was always searching for answers & healing. Eventually I found the validation, guidance & comfort that brought Recovery!


Forgive me! I cried.
At every turn I wished I’d died
at birth, as near I did.
Strange thoughts drove through my child’s mind:
I closed my eyes & saw infinity!
Why am I here? What is my kind?
Am I insane?

Forgive me! I seem weak,
and yet I cannot help but speak
to everyone I meet
in marketplaces & on streets –
thus twice did strangers catch me up
and carry me away – well nearly.
Then caution dogged my every step,
but never ‘dearly’.

Forgive me! I Whispered.
Had I really erred so much?
Why all that poison guilt?
Was I an empty vessel to be filled
as my masters thought & willed?
Too much to know, no one to help!
Fear to anger on my lips had grown.
Be still! I moaned.

Hear me!
I then began
to scream the pain without a plan –
blindly striking all.
No one to guide, no one to help
in clearing paths & scaling walls.
Silent or blazing, to lose or to win,
the heart, without knowing, fought to be twin
to a worthier mind.

NEXT: Excellent Inner-Child MOVIE

IDENTIFYING Emotions (Part 2)

 catch a feeling by it’s show!

Part 1: Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel

SEE post
: Getting to our Emotions – OVER


This CHART, by W. G. Parrott, is another way of grouping emotions – a general guide you can agree with in whole, in part or not at all. The more Es you can identify in yourself & others, the better. One reason I’ve added it is that it includes the Es of Shame & Guilt, which Plutchik does not.

Negative ReACTions to Painful Events (Anger)


one way or another, I’m gonna get ‘im



3. ACTIONS (cont)
a. Fearful reactions

b. ANGRY reactions to painful events
💥 Attack / Revenge (sue, fight, yell…)
This is the most obvious & direct. The need  to be violent – verbally, physically or legally – is used by some ACoAs as a way of venting old pain on the world – anyone except facing the original perpetrators, if possible.
OR we may have tried every other avenue to resolve a problem, but to no avail. Then the only recourse left is to go after our tormentor directly, never considering “letting go”.

⚒ The dysfunctional ‘acting out’ of our rage is WIC’s response to decades of abuse & abandonment.  We’re not crazy, only traumatized
⚒ Continuing to be angry in the present is still wanting the impossible – to be loved & accepted by people who can not & will never be able to provide them!

Remember: When we still over-react to a particular event – it does not mean all our recovery is invalidated. Nip any S-H in the bud! “Progress, NOT Perfection”

💥 Gossip Maliciously almost any group of people in regular, long-term contact is prone to gossiping. Mostly it’s a common but unhealthy way to pass the time & connect with peers.
However, when ACoAs are in a rage at someone (X), we want to do harm, to make them look bad, in the same way we feel harmed. Then we :
• act like a victim, martyr, the ‘white hat’
• tell secrets we know about (X)
• make up false info to damage (X)‘s rep
• seduce others away from (X) – by shifting people’s allegiance to ourself

💥Make Fun Of making jokes at someone’s expense ….  While gossip & teasing is indirect, this is a more obvious way to show anger at (Y). Sometimes we believe our meanness has been earned by (Y), at other times it’s just displacing our rage at someone else like a boss, parent or mate

EXPs: Jimmy is a popular techie at a big company, who likes to ‘stir the pot’, & gets away with a lot of bad behavior using charm & gossip.  He’s taken a special dislike to an older woman, who undeservedly reminds him of his alcoholic, controlling mother. He has a key chain ornament of a cow that mo-o-os when squeezed.  For months, every time he passes the woman, he squeezes the cow & smiles impishly.  To please him, all of his coworkers are also amused.  When reprimanded, he finally stops.

💥Sulk – ‘staring daggers’ , ‘if looks could kill’ ….↖️
While this too is about not talking (being mute), it is by no means passive.  Others can feel the rage emanating from us & generally stay Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 7.58.25 AMaway!
In this case, not saying anything may be that:
• it’s not appropriate right then (in public, at work…)
• we’re so unprepared for a nasty comment or shocked by a scary event, that we can’t find the words at that moment
• we’re afraid of our own intensity – that we’ll do some long-term damage, either physical or emotional, if we let fly
OR • we’re afraid of being punished if we speak up, & we could be

EXP: Zina worked for an active alcoholic who constantly pushed her buttons.  She didn’t know how to stand up for herself, felt she owed him for helping her out at the beginning, & didn’t want to lose her job. So she just fumed!
One day she overheard her boss telling someone: “That Zina has the loudest silences”! She was shocked because she hadn’t realized her (unexpressed) anger was radiating such intensity. It also made her see she needed to change jobs, which she eventually was able to do

💥Tease – always an indirect form of anger & is always abusive. It’s a way to ‘get back at’ someone by using a personal trait against them – their name, size, religion ethnicity, way of talking….. such as ‘hazing’ a new student or employee. It’s a form of adult scapegoating, & leaves permanent emotional scars if continually repeated.
But since teasing is couched in humor, it’s generally considered ‘good fun’, harmless & socially acceptable, therefore allowed & encouraged by others.
But teasing is toxic!

NEXT: ‘Responding Positively to Events’