Anger – Ways to REACT (Part 3)



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 is angry or triggering our anger. This starts internally – shutting down emotionally, but can also take the form of temporary physical paralysis, leaving the situation as soon as possible, or permanently avoiding angry people / situations (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 on oneself
• 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.fight reaction
— Appropriate when we or someone / something we love is threatened
— Not appropriate in most current cases (also part of 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 manipulate, 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) can start as 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.    IMAGE🔽 : “Cycle of Revenge

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

Abused children:
– 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 by becoming a bully, finding 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. (2 Posts : ACoAs wanting Revenge“)

◀️ 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 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)

ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)

acoa Es 

& you can’t make me!

Previous: Parrott’s Emotions List

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: The Body & Emotions & Identifying Emotions


Those DREADED Emotions (Es) !
• ACoAs definitely believe all emotions are a bad thing. When asked what’s going on with us, or how we’re feeling, ACoAs usually fail to mention Es. We’ll talk around them, over & under, but never hit the bulls-eye.  We’re terrified of them like mice are afraid of cats.  We treat our Es as if they were a wild beast inside that has to be locked away in a deep dark dungeon.

• Then we wonder why we can’t get out of bed, always feel like the outsider, feel so alone, don’t get along with others, have panic attacks….. Emotions that are ignored have sneaky ways of showing up in disguise. BUT those ways (listed throughout this blog) are the symptoms that provide vital information we can use to reverse-engineer events that distress us. Then we can make the necessary corrections

• Without enough healing, ACoAs are clearly not happy campers, having lived with depression most of life – even if we don’t show it on the outside.  It’s not surprising, since our dysfunctional families indicated in thousands of direct & indirect ways that we should never object to being hurt by them, and then not express any pain from their abused & neglected! (“Stop your whimpering. You’re such a baby. You’re just too sensitive!”). They didn’t give us much to be happy about, but they also didn’t want us to hold them accountable. So we learned: “DON’T FEEL”!healthy combo

IMP: What they never told us was that 💗 it’s not intrinsically bad to have Emotions but were simply unacceptable to them, because:
they didn’t experience love & nurturing, so could not give it to us
• they had no clue how to cope with their own problems, much less be there for us. The responsibility of parenting terrified them

• if one or more parent had chronic mental or physical illness, or who were overly dramatic themselves, there was clearly no room for our needs or feelings
• never having dealt with their wounded Es as adults, they shoved them under the carpet & demanded we do the same.
An infant’s first ‘language’ is that of intense emotions. Only after that did we learn to use words! This combination would be a constant irritant to parents who already felt too much OR didn’t want to feel at all – our emotions & needs acting like sandpaper. They had to shut us up!

• our needs as children enraged them because they wanted all the attention for themselves
• some parent & teachers delighted in hurting & humiliating us, & had no intention of giving us comfort or validation (did you catch one of them smirking when you cried?)
✶ One tender soul remembers her mother, the heartless narcissist, saying with a sneer: “I’m so glad I’m not sensitive like you & your father!”

As a result:  muted Es
• many ACoAs have a limited range of Es they are aware of, much like only being able to play 2 or 3 notes on a full piano keyboard – such as anger & disdain, fear & guilt, loneliness & desperation…. even tho there are many more available on both scales

• some have so many Es we can hardly breathe, acting them out all over the place or hiding under the covers as much as possible, always in ‘suffering mode’, which makes us wish we were like the other ones – numb

• others of us have intense Es without consciously knowing it OR being able to identify them by name – not associating certain physical sensations with actual emotions, but tending to be cranky & exhausted

NEXT: ACoAs & Emotions (Part 2)