Self-Help Activity 1: Techniques to identify anger and the reason for it

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C.

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Reminder: In order to honor our group process we ask that only current members post and respond here please.  Thank you.

Note:  Your recovery is unique to you.  These topics and activities are suggestions.  Please feel free to do and respond to those that work for you at this time.

Self-Help   

1.   If you have not already done so, make a list of techniques you can use to help you identify and manage your anger.  For example, become aware of the body signals that tell you that you are starting to feel angry.  Try to figure out what is making you feel this way.  Is it something in the present or is it a replay of an old tape from your childhood?  If you find yourself getting angry, take a "time out" and give yourself a chance to calm down.  Call a friend or a hotline for help in figuring out what is triggering your anger.

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VeryFoggy

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Recently I have learned of two distinct types of anger that I have. So before I even go into techniques for managing the anger, I must first sort out and identify the type of anger I am experiencing, before I can move on to determine which technique will be most effective.

Current day anger over current day events such as:  A rude clerk on a trip to the store, a driver that cuts me off and pulls out in front of me unexpectedly when I have the right of way, an undeserved criticism from my son, etc.  These spark what I call "clean anger."  It's nice and neat, one event, easy to deal with.  I flare up, then I say about the clerk, Wow, she's having a bad day.  I say about the bad driver, Wow, it's good thing I have good reflexes.  With my son I am setting a boundary and setting a consequence. And enforcing it. Finally. Simple. Easy.

But, the other type of anger is completely enmeshed in my CPTSD and needs a lot of management. This type of anger involves flashbacks. Where I am reliving the abuse from my childhood.  Thankfully very few people can invoke this type of anger.  This type of anger comes belatedly.  After the terror, and the freezing, and the paralyzed staring, and no reaction from me, and no defense, nothing, I do absolutely nothing to protect myself, and I feel like I have been annihilated.  Yeah, when that reaction happens and is over?  Then later, I get volcanically angry. Furious with both them for doing it to me, and me for doing nothing about it. That's not clean anger. It's filthy, and soiled, and dirty, and ugly, and it hurts, and it stabs, and it wounds me deeply. And I am furious and enraged. That kind needs a technique.

And as you know by now, my technique is writing.  I do also feel better with just getting away and walking 3-4 miles. or swimming a mile, just doing something really physical.  Pushups are a miracle. Because the pain is my heart, and I push so much blood through my upper body doing pushups, that it helps. It forces the passageways that are constricted in pain open again.

I don't have a warning, it is on me in an instant after I recover from the initial wounding freezing paralysis. I am 0 to 60.  I would win awards for fastest car in the world if I was a car. It is so intense I feel it will consume me and burn me alive.

But time helps too. Time to think, get my brain functioning again, so the walks, and the pushups, and the getting away from where it happened these all help.

But what I have finally figured out, is that even though my reaction is over the top? It is justified.  I don't get angry unless I am being truly abused in the present day.  I don't.  Anytime I get that mad?  I need to DO something for myself. I am truly being abused in the present, and even though my reaction is too strong?  It's not a mistake.  When it happens, people really are trying deliberately to hurt me. On purpose. Or, they think they are more important than me, and that they have the right to mistreat me.

So I don't know if I can call that lucky or not, but I choose to.  I am calling it lucky in that I do not get over the top angry about the wrong fork being the wrong place.  When I get angry?  I have been mistreated, disrespected and told that I was less than.

I have actually been searching for books on line for months on this subject, about what to do and how to handle it, but I can't find any. I may have to write one myself.  About what to do.  Once I figure it out.

But I am sick and tired of feeling like some people feel like they have the right to abuse me.  I am just sick of it.  So far my solution is NC.  I will calm down, and I will ask once or twice for what I want, which is usually an apology, and lately counseling.  But if I don't get it?  See ya!  I am history. You will not get another chance to abuse me. I will remove myself from you and your abusive ways.

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Kizzie

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Well said Very Foggy, definitely two types of anger for me as well.  I really like the term "clean anger" - it describes how I feel and respond in "normal" situations (e.g., rude clerks and such). 

Like you though, I also have a lot of difficulty with people who trigger the abuse from my past, in particular narcissistic behaviour, overt, covert - doesn't matter, I can feel a deep anger rush through my body in an instant.  And while I froze when I was a child, as a teen I would go into fight mode and that has more or less stuck since then.  Fortunately as you say it doesn't happen often (being triggered) with me either as I have gone NC or LC with most PD FOO, but occasionally I will bump into them IRL and when the anger hits it feels good in the moment, I then spiral down into a pit of fear and shame and guilt.  Or I used to, it's not so much the case anymore.

I am beginning to see that I equate getting angry with being a bad person, that I have done something wrong, but as you suggest it is this reaction to being angry rather than the anger itself that is detrimental to recovery.  By validating that the anger is justified, our IC may stop feeling the need to remind us that we are not looking after them (us) as we should and rightly so.  So any time I trigger I focus on trying to say something along the lines of "You know you are so right to feel angry about xxxxxxx, and I will not let our ICr make you feel bad about feeling the way you do.  You can go and play now, I am watching over us now and I will take care of this." 

Great post VF  :hug:
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 04:24:36 AM by Kizzie »

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Annegirl

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This is so interesting these two types of anger concept. I would like to have a 'clean' anger side. I think thats why I'm so afraid of the children or my husband making me angry because any anger i experience takes me straight into an EF where i feel guilt and shame and a lot of self hatred, and I find it really hard to deal with it. So rather than letting it out on them I have to let it out on myself. (i become violent to myself but i am not allowed to go into detail on here)

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bee

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I realised sometime this past year that I was often confusing anxiety and anger. Often when I thought I was feeling anxious I was actually feeling anger. The anger concentrates in my shoulders, the anxiety is in my upper back and stomach.

I'm trying to first recognize that I am angry, give the feeling a name. Then allow myself to be with the feeling. If I try to figure out what is triggering it too soon, the feeling goes away.

The more I let myself feel things, the more I find the feelings are amazingly transitory. I've spent my whole life afraid of feeling, only to slowly realize that feelings are harmless. Wow, I can't believe that I actually believe that.

Call a friend...ppffttthhh. Workbook must be written by an extrovert.:bigwink:
I don't want anyone involved when I am being overwhelmed by feelings.

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Annegirl

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Its really good and makes sense Kizzie the part that you said you equate feeling angry with being a bad person and it goes downhill from there.

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VeryFoggy

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Bee - So funny what you said " Workbook must be written by an extrovert."  I agree! And, also  1) I have gotten rid of everybody I was ever close to over the last year and 2) I agree with you, I want to mull it over alone first, and figure out what is best for me before I talk to anybody.  I like to have conclusions and explain how I got there.  I am a logical sort of person.

Kizzie - I think we were all raised to believe our anger was wrong and it made us bad people.  But this is part the dysfunction, because THEY were certainly entitled to express their anger whenever THEY felt like it.  But I do believe we were all programmed to a degree to believe our anger was WRONG and if we felt it?  We were Bad People. But I have figured out that is just not true.  Because feeling it?  Doesn't mean I have to or even will do anything about it.  The most helpful thing I have done is change my attitude and see my anger as a friend.  A friend that says "Something is wrong.  You need to figure out what is wrong and do something constructive about it."

Annegirl - I am so sorry to hear that you turn your anger against yourself in a violent way. But please know we have all done that.  We all have turned our anger inward and hurt ourselves.  Every single one of us has done that. And I am sorry that you feel you cannot talk about it here.

But I hope that through continued work, you can start seeing your anger is your friend.  If your children make you angry?  They probably have done something wrong that makes you mad!  Same with your husband.

Lately I am responsible for caring for my 11 year old grandson much of time every other week.  And I get angry with him plenty! And having no skills to remember and fall back on, due to the poor example set by my parents, and not having my own children much of the time when they were young, then  I am very challenged. I have to work VERY hard with discipline to be effective and not punitive.

But I am doing okay.  I am checking out my decisions with my therapist, and she is encouraging me that I am handling it 100% A okay. So I hope you do talk to your therapist about this, and work out some solutions that are effective for your children. I understand the feeling guilty and bad when you have to discipline your children. It's normal. But it is your job to do so, and as long as you do not hurt them and are loving and forgiving afterwards?  It's going to be fine.

I have been in a battle with my grandson for weeks, but today, he looked at me and he said, Grandma, I have been acting badly and I know it, and I am going to work really hard to do better from now on. I was filled with joy.  His eyes were clear and sincere. He was smiling and happy and proud of himself.  There was no sulking or pouty face like he's had for such a long time.  It was a precious moment. But it took weeks of effort and discipline, then love, then discipline, then love to get to this point.  Mainly I take his phone away from him, even if I have to wrestle (gently) to get it away from him, as it is his most important possession.  Then when all is calm, we talk, I hug him and tell him I love him, and give him his phone back. But it finally worked. Thank God!

Anyway, I hope we can all figure out anger is a guide for us, it is just a feeling that is warning to us that we need to do something for ourselves, or our children to make our lives and their lives better. Not use it to hurt others or ourselves, but just observe it, and know it's time to do something. Not in anger, but cool off a bit, and think, and then do something good and constructive to help ourselves, and/or our children be better people to themselves and to others.

And one last thing.  I tried to keep the people who triggered me into flashbacks in my life for 57 years.  And it did not work. But now that I have cleared them all out, except for one?  Life is calm and peaceful much of the time. And I am only having clean anger, not flashback anger. So maybe you have too many PD's in your life, and some cleaning, some house cleaning will be necessary before you can stop the flashbacks? I am NOT saying this is the case, but it was my case.  It made everything worse. And getting rid of that has helped get rid of the noise that was distracting me from being able to really focus on getting well.

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Kizzie

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You are doing better than OK VF, great job with your grandson!  :applause:  That must feel really good  :yes:

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C.

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First, I am reflecting on what's been said here about the types of anger.  I think for me it's a lot about what I do when I feel angry.  In my FOO everyone shouted, yelled, insulted and sometimes threw things.  One T. even taught my M that sometimes you "need" conflict to work through things, not fair or helpful advise for how to interact w/a teen daughter.  There was a time in my life when I would get mad at my ex/daughter and yell and/or insult.  Several years ago I realized how much that hurt them and I decided to stop.

Second, my understanding of what we can process here has to do w/the present and the future...I know that in my past I harmed myself a lot with sugar...sounds simple, silly, minor.  But honestly, diabetes kills and I was headed that direction.  I knew sugar hurt me, but the pay off (tasting candy, cookies) was greater than the threat of harm so I continued.  I still do periodically.  So that was/is how I harm myself w/anger.

I went to a marriage counselor many years ago who focused on angering topics and that seemed the easiest way for me to understand this topic.  I definitely have very specific topics which spark the anger for me w/specific people.  Strangers almost never unless they are a serious threat.  I think I quickly do ďmedium chillĒ and donít want to waste energy or be stressed by someone who I donít know.

I noticed the following topics, depending on the person, can trigger anger.  For me the anger almost always happens w/either my son or my ex:  financial injustice, harming others, racial injustice, prejudice, my parental authority being undermined by the other parent, criticizing me (my perception), getting angry w/me for what I perceive is ďnothingĒ, and ignoring me.

Things that trigger others, but not me so much: lying, not working ďhardĒ enough, and another person feeling angry/sad/upset/worried.

Iím sure there are other triggers, but this is the general idea.  I used to lash out verbally (ex, like when he played video games all dayÖ), but I donít do that any longer.  With my son I usually ask for quiet/stop the topic, think about what bothered me, and then discuss it w/him or my T or OOTS when Iím not angry.   

Iím not sure whether I simply donít have a lot of anger, or itís repressed, but honestly anger doesnít happen much for me anymore.  I also donít put myself in its path eg/mom, dad or ex.

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marycontrary

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Wow, all of you guys really have a beautiful gift of gab on this topic. I can now tell when I get angry...a welling up pit in the stomach feeling. I have succeeded pretty good in identifying this and heading it off at the pass. I used to be a very, very angry person. Pissed off all of the time.

But I realized that the anger was just a cover for hurt. So I because I can control my anger better, I do not hurt as much, and my recovery goes faster.

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C.

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Great point Mary.  I had forgotten about the secondary anger thing.  I learned that several years ago which was before my C-PTSD awareness.  I really do search for the feeling under the anger, usually some form of worry, fear or sadness.  For example, that w/my son fear I'm doing a "bad" job as a mom under the irritation over one of his behaviors.  So I don't feel anger much.  I go for the "pain."  I do wonder if it's repressed and I need to feel it more in order to heal...but then, maybe that's just me, I'm not quick-tempered.

In work or social settings I'm pretty sure I "freeze" when I feel anger in order to stop, evaluate and control my response.  So a fake positive facial expression and I withdraw in my mind, probably a distance in my eyes/body language.  I remember when I had a boss that made very unempathetic comments during staff meetings, I would look him straight in the eye and purposely think "You can make me look at you now, but you cannot make me listen, blah blah blah..."

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anosognosia

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This may be slightly off topic, but a lot of times it's my flight or fight response which gets all tangled up when I feel highly anxious. Mostly the triggers are my romantic relationships. I'm sure later it will be my children too.

It's this extreme state of duress where I fear my emotional safety is in danger, and it sometimes manifests itself into anger spells.  A lot of times it's bottled in with shame so I oftentimes am unable to express it face to face. It creeps up in emailmessages, texts, etc.

I don't like it. Sometimes it's uncontrollable. Oftentimes it induces a lot of emotional pain. It's very very deep and out of proportion with the situation that triggers it. That's when I know it's something within me related to my past.

I'm just starting to learn to take a step to the side and observe what is happening with my emotions.

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C.

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I don't think that this is off-topic at all.  It sounds like you're aware of your anger as being secondary to a highly anxious state.  And it sounds like you are becoming aware of the extremity of the emotion in the moment which is a huge step.  I know that for me the CBT skills, or the EF management techniques are helpful in such a state.  They give me a buffer to transition out of the extreme emotion.  Then I can analyze it later, usually w/the help of my T.  Then, with each "success" at coping w/the trigger/EF I build confidence and it starts to get easier.

If it doesn't feel too detailed here I wonder if you could give an example though?  I'm not sure if I understand so well.

Either way it sounds like you are definitely becoming aware and learning to cope with that very stressful, highly anxious state.

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anosognosia

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Reading some of the earlier posts from others makes me realize I also have a triggered anger (not relationship/separation anxiety related) which stems from people saying narcissist-type remarks. They are definitely triggering.

One of my colleagues is less than modest (though usually the least "achieving of our cohort") and is known to make comments like "UGH everyone here is below my intelligence level". When something unfortunate happened to another colleague this person laughed at them to their face and said "Wow this is not a good day for you" with a belittling smile.  Most of my colleagues just brush it off but this sometimes grinds away at me for hours and sometimes days.

My T suggested it reminds me of my narent (F), which I would agree with.
I am also bothered by the fact that the person is very loud and boisterous about being "smarter and better" than everyone else, when objectively speaking this is not true. I know this is very deeply entangled with my narental parent, I think the fact that this person is allowed to get away with it also categorically bothers me.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2015, 03:58:22 PM by anosognosia »

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VeryFoggy

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Wow Ano, your colleague sounds repugnant! I would not be able to keep my mouth shut, if I overheard one of my employees doing that to another.  I would have to say something  like "Your humility is incredibly underwhelming", or "Your lack of empathy slip is showing, you really need to try to put that away."  I wouldn't be able to help it. But I would not let it go unrecognized and unchecked. And if it kept up? We would be having a private discussion my office and they would be given choices.  And not good ones either.

Does your boss know what is going on? If they don't they need to.  That's horrible and nobody should have to put up with that type of behavior in a professional environment.  Because it's very unprofessional.