Don't let your hurt child make your grown up decisions.
I heard this on a TV show recently, the simplicity of this is so amazing and pure. There are many ways that hurt children can be hurt-physical or mental abuse, anger, resentment, abandonment, negligence, over bearing parents, etc. A lot of these things are symptoms of or related to anger.
Anger is a very real feeling, a powerful and often damaging way of reacting to words or actions or situations in our worlds. HOWEVER, anger is the reaction, it is always the surface for so many other feelings, and is often just how they present in that moment.
Anger can be a cover for any of the following and probably more:
So when you respond in anger, what is the actual emotion behind it? What is the situation that caused such a big eruption of emotion? Is it a learned behaviour stemming from your exposure to anger as a child? Have you learned to recognize or understand the emotions behind the anger? Do you know where in your body you feel it? How long does it last? How do you let it go?
Figuring these out rarely, if ever happens before we respond in anger. We usually explode in whatever way is our norm then get to breathe and then are clear headed enough to dive deeper. The explosion doesn’t remove the situation that caused it, it simply blows the steam top and allows the clearer head to prevail.
Is there something that often triggers your rage? Does the same situation or conversation happen over and over? Do you have the same response every time? Recognizing patterns and causes of your anger is a great start to figure out how to change those situations, or be able to see the anger coming and pause or stop it. Can you recognize the feelings as they rise inside you? Can you feel the tension building and step away before it overwhelms you?
Ways to feel anger building:
Breathing getting fast and/or shallow
Tension building inside chest or stomach or shoulders
Knots in stomach
Needing to pace or walk around-full of kinetic energy that needs to be released
There are many techniques to work with anger, to be aware of when it comes, some are great for the anger inside, some are great for softening anger in others or situations:
Think before you respond
Get some exercise
Step away from the situation
Get some fresh air
Communicate about the issue at hand, not past grudges-unless showing a pattern
Could humour help diffuse the situation?
Use a mantra
Take some deep breaths
Visualise a happy place or situation
Find an immediate solution to start
Write it out-then maybe burn it
Practice a conversation to be sure of talking points and not speaking from anger
Visualise a stop sign
Talk to someone
Laugh-watch a silly video
Think of 3 things you are grateful for
Practice empathy-see things from their side
Touch a cold surface
Things that don’t help in communication when you are angry:
Sayings like “you ALWAYS do this” “you NEVER do that” these generalizations will pull the focus from the actual issue and pull into a side argument about whether or not that statement is true.
Assuming you know what the other person is going to say and responding to it. This again, will derail the actual conversation.
Starting the conversation with accusations or assumptions. It can be quite useful to start an upsetting conversation with a question, something to clarify the details, be sure you are on the same page before you begin.
Don’t blame others, speak in "I" sentences, be clear and direct, stick to the main point, LISTEN to what the other person is saying and be willing to shift your perspective and understanding.
Being able to recognize what sets off your anger, how you let it out, where you feel it, and how you feel after it disperses are all important to learn and understand. This is a starting point for being able to really recognize the underlying emotions listed, what the anger is covering and how you can either live with it, or change it.
What is your emotional vocabulary like?
How many emotions could you name?
How many emotions could you define?
How many emotions have you felt?
Where do you feel them?
What are they linked to?
How do you feel them?
Do you want to get past them or can you sit with them and learn from them?
Emotional growth is a never ending journey. Since we are constantly put into new situations, new experiences, dealing with new people, we are going to constantly be having new responses and reactions to them. Becoming comfortable with what we call “good/comfortable” or “bad/uncomfortable” feelings is how this growth happens and how we will find ourselves less lost in the instant anger responses that are really based around other emotions.
The child inside that was hurt had a very limited understanding of anger, of what the feeling was, of what caused it, of what it meant, or what it did. They certainly did not have a deeper understanding of the dozens of hidden emotions behind that wall of anger. That child didn’t have all the options, they didn’t have the opportunities, but you do. You can learn to understand what triggers you, why you respond the way you do, how to avoid situations or people. When you do these things you may be shocked at how different life can be. To let go of the hurt that child is carrying, to let go of so much of the anger in a divisive and polarised world of assumptions. You can do this, and if you try and don’t feel like it’s working you can find a professional to work with. Don’t ever be ashamed of asking for the help you need to live the most quality life you can.