The word anger and the behaviour that it creates is not something that is typically looked upon with acceptance or positivity. Anger is often portrayed as a troublesome emotion; an emotion that leads to destructive and abusive behaviour.
And there is no denying that anger can be extremely destructive when expressed in a certain way or when it is taken to the extreme. However, I believe that if we look at the world and our own individual lives, we will see many examples when anger has been appropriate and has lead to positive action and change.
Anger could be looked upon as neutral and as something that will lead to something constructive or destructive. With the intention of the individual or individuals that are expressing it, ultimately being the defining factor.
What Causes Anger?
When I think about anger and what causes it, what comes to mind is - compromise. When we feel compromised or even abused in some way, anger will come upon us. The intensity of the anger will not only depend on what is happening to us; it will also depend on how we interpret what is happening.
This shows anger is also a subjective occurrence. What makes one person angry might not have the same effect on another and vice versa.
Where is it felt?
Anger is something that is often experienced in the mouth and throat. The specific areas where we can feel it are in our gums, our teeth and through tension in our throat.
This is due to our throat being our area of truth and expression. And both of these areas are being restricted if we are being compromised.
However, we can also feel anger in other parts of our body; this is because emotions and experiences are not only stored in our brain, but in ever part of our body.
So we can also see that anger could be described as a feedback mechanism; we are being informed about when our boundaries are being crossed and our own survival is potentially at risk.
The question is: how do we come to shape these boundaries or walls? When do we form these ideas of what is compromising to us and what is not? And how do we know what is a potential threat to our survival?
we can see from above that although there are general themes when it comes to what makes people angry, there are also unique and specific things that can cause one person to feel compromised.
A way to describe it could be to say we all have our own ‘hot’ points or areas that cause us to feel agitated. These are those situations or people that press our buttons and make us angry.
In our childhood there will have inevitable been moments when we were not treated in a way that honoured who we were. Perhaps this is a normal consequence of wanting to please our parents or caregivers (for our own survival) and through them doing what they genuinely believed was right for us or maybe this was the result of being compromised or abused in our childhood.
This could be through the form of; criticism, control, manipulation, dependency and/or rejection.
This causes us to disown parts of ourselves, the parts of ourselves that were abused or compromised then become the parts of ourselves that we come to dislike and reject. Through the identification of what we were told and how we were treated, we become dissociated from ourselves.
That true part of ourselves, that is far stronger and far more significant than anything externally placed upon us, is momentarily lost. Covered up with everything we have been told by others and everything we have come to tell ourselves based on what we have be told.
What happened in those early years can be forgotten about and lost from conscious awareness. The trouble is we can’t run away from it, it will always be there until it has been processed and acknowledged.
By repressing our anger and labelling it as ‘bad’ we cut ourselves off from what we are being told and what is coming to our attention to be healed. This will also cause us to miss what is being shown to us as a re-enactment of our past.
As well as repression we can also choose to act out or re-enact these past behaviour and stories in our current life. What is happening this time is that the roles are being played by different people and the situations look different, but still feel the same. However there is always this sense familiarity around what is happening.
By acting out we end up unconsciously interpreting and perceiving situations in our present moment as the same as our past, this is a way that our past pain calls out to be healed.
And without the awareness to see these patterns appearing again and again, one can easily keep behaving or reacting in the same way, each time getting no further or achieving any kind of closure
During ones younger years they might have been raised by someone that was controlling or critical, and as a consequence of this whenever they are told to do something or whenever they are criticised they are filled with anger.
This might be displayed externally in an aggressive way or internally through withdrawal. Nevertheless, both of these examples will end in similar feelings. To The observer; this situation might seem completely out of proportion.
And this is because old memories and associations are being triggered; the behaviour is being influenced by the past and not primarily by the present moment. This situation could have been completely different to the original, but it still feels the same.
This is because all it takes is a word, a certain tone or a facial expression and the past will appear once more.
Recognising the Feedback
We can become angry and look outside of ourselves at the situations and the people that cause this reaction in us or we can look within. That is to look inside ourselves at what is being triggered.
The Situations and people that cause this do not have control over how we respond; this is something that is within our own control.
As we process our past, we will begin to respond, where before we have reacted and begin to create functional boundaries.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.