Does anyone else have difficulty owning their anger? By this I mean do you find that you get angry with yourself when you feel anger towards another person, if that makes any sense?!
Basically I feel very uncomfortable with my own anger towards others and I’m trying to work through this issue.
Any anger I feel towards a friend or loved one I struggle to deal with. I think it might be due to a fear of abandonment: if I’m angry with those I love- I might push them away, which is always the last thing I want!
Black & White Thinking
My thinking around all this is probably very black & white, which is a well known cognitive distortion in those with psychological issues. If I feel angry I judge this as a “bad” feeling. I often transfer this to thinking that I am a “bad” person for feeling “bad” emotions.
Black & White Thinking & Bipolar Disorder
To me, black & white thinking & beliefs seem to merge very well with the idea of Bipolar Disorder. The word Bipolar means two polar opposites- such as hot and cold, or indeed, black & white.
As we develop through childhood, do we learn to see ourselves as all good or all bad?
Do we reject the bad side of ourselves & embrace only the good?- Hypomania/Mania.
Do we accept only the bad and none of the good?- Depression.
Depression is sometimes thought to be caused by suppressed anger– anger that we consciously push out of our awareness or ignore. In an attempt to process these emotions- which never really leave our whole being- we automatically turn them around to ourselves. We may have been brought up to believe that it is safer to be angry with ourselves than with others. Being angry with others may have caused very difficult circumstances in key relationships. A deep fear of abandonment by caregivers is obviously something a child is very likely to feel as their parents are absolutely essential to their existence as they see it.
If we deal with Bipolar Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder, we may have had particularly traumatic rages with others, which we felt were so powerful they overtook us completely. This can be a very scary experience and one that we would do anything to stop from recurring.
If we are also Highly Sensitive (take the test here) we will likely process seemingly smaller behavioural clues as rejection or abandonment: thereby increasing the likelihood of Bipolar Disorder, Depression & Anxiety occurring in later life.
One of the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder is described as “frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.”
Any anger we experience towards someone we love may then be construed as a threat to our safety and therefore a potential danger in provoking this abandonment.
Abandonment can also be seen to be a rejection by our peers. We are isolated as different and therefore a target for teasing and abuse. This creates an intense feeling of isolation and loneliness- effectively abandonment by peers.
Abandonment by God
I often think there is a real link between religion and psychological disorders. If we were brought up to believe that we were “bad” for feeling angry towards our “elders”, or that it was in some way unacceptable, we may have grasped hold of the idea that we could possibly go to “hell” for these feelings. We would therefore be rejected by God and cast out.
It all sounds very extreme and is initiated by such prehistoric religious ideas (in my opinion) that are still circulating today.
(My idea of God is now very different- a belief in a loving, forgiving God who would never abandon any one of us. It is only us who can abandon Him.)
Suppressing Anger As A Coping Mechanism
We suppress our anger as we view it to be so dangerous to our wellbeing. It is the way we have learned to cope with our deep-seated fear of rejection.
To move forward we need to address and question this belief. Is it still relevant in our adult lives? Are we capable of taking care of ourselves? Do we love ourselves enough to take on challenges ourselves? Why do we feel we NEED other people so desperately for our basic survival?
We could identify situations we have handled on our own and feel a sense of accomplishment in that. Or challenge ourselves to participating in something just a little scary, but fun, to increase our confidence in ourselves.
Inner Child Visualization.
It is also helpful to travel back through our memories of childhood and identify times where we felt desperately abandoned. What happened? How did it feel?
Imagine your little-self and how you would comfort yourself if you could travel back and be with her/him now to support them. As your little self, imagine that love and support coming to you. If spiritual, you may like to imagine a beautiful guardian angel enfolding you in her/his protective wings.
We are powerful beings, though it may not always feel this way. We have choices in life- choices in how we deal with emotions, situations, challenges, how we perceive things, etc.
By increasing the feelings of confidence in ourselves, we can rely on ourselves more and feel less fear of abandonment. Potentially we will then have no need to suppress our own feelings of anger as we step into our own powerful selves. We will learn to embrace our own anger as an emotion which can teach us about ourselves, and one that we can eventually become comfortable with. It will not cause our loved ones to abandon us. It is safe to feel angry. It may not feel this way yet, but imagine your own confidence growing as you experience and deal effectively with it. We are powerful enough to take charge of such a powerful emotion and use it to initiate healthy change in our relationships.
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