Self Help Activities: Anger and Preventing aggression

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C.

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Self Help Activities: Anger and Preventing aggression
« on: May 11, 2015, 08:48:35 PM »
Reminder: In order to honor our group process we ask that only current ASCA workbook group members post and respond here please.  If you would like to join in at this time or a later date please send the moderator a PM.  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.   Regardless of what happened to you as a child, you are always responsible for your actions as an adult, just as your parents/abusers were responsible for what they did to you years ago.  Some survivors harbor fantasies about getting revenge or punishing their abuser(s) for what occurred.  It is one thing to have these thoughts, and quite another to think about acting on them.  If you entertain fantasies such as these, you are entering dangerous territory, and we suggest that you seek professional help immediately.  Actions taken on such thoughts could constitute criminal acts and subject you to severe penalties, including jail.

2.   You have good reason to be so angry, but you need to be able to separate your right to have these feelings from your right to act on them.  As is stated in the ASCA meeting guidelines, "We draw a line between thinking or feeling angry and actually doing something abusive through words or actions."  If you can learn to express your feelings with people you trust, as opposed to acting out feelings against them, you can dissipate this built-up aggression without becoming another abuser.  For men who are inclined to aggression and violence, this may be one of the most important steps of recovery and the most difficult to achieve.

3.   Make a list of the situations where you lose control of your behavior and become aggressive.  Can you identify the determining factor in losing control? What feelings tend most to trigger the abusiveness?  What do you hope to accomplish by reacting aggressively?  Does it work?  How do you think the person at whom you are directing your aggression feels?  Do you feel optimistic about being able to control this part of you or do you feel hopeless?  Are there any external factors such as alcohol or drug use that might be related to losing control? What are your healthiest options for controlling your frustrations and coping with stress?  Once you have identified them, see if you can't find ways to apply them in the typical situations where you lose control.

4.   If you are having a very difficult time learning how to control abusive and aggressive behavior, think about joining a focus group or taking a class in parent effectiveness training or non-violent behavior alternatives.  You might be able to find an anger management or other similar educational course that emphasizes expressing anger constructively rather than destructively. Local community mental health services and community colleges may have programs.  Check with your Employee Assistance Program at work and your HMO/health insurance carrier for possible community listings.

5.   Learning how to short-circuit your aggression will mean hard work and tailoring behavioral strategies to fit your individual needs.  Once you have acquired the necessary behaviors, you will need to practice them so that they become instinctive responses and part of your behavioral repertoire.



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VeryFoggy

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Re: Self Help Activities: Anger and Preventing aggression
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2015, 01:53:17 AM »
1.  For a while last year when I was in the throes of working through my rage and anger at my father, about the abuse and the damage it had caused me, I felt like I wanted to, as another person on OOTF described it as “ Swing The Hammer.”   I wanted to write letters to the elders of the church where my father is a missionary and explain to them exactly who they had been supporting.  I wanted to call Social Services for the Elderly and explain that my mother was being abused by her husband.  Because she is. I wanted it exposed.  I also worried he would just show up at my home one day, and I plotted strategies of whether I would call the police or not for trespassing, and how I would respond if he came to the front door or to the back door.  I was furious and angry, and I wanted to try to hurt him like he had hurt me. I wanted him to be reviled, rejected, cast out, hated, and despised. Just like he had done to me. I worked this out through letters never sent instead of expressing my rage and anger in actions, and it helped. I never contacted the elders, I never called Social Services, and I never sent the letters.  Also I received excellent counsel from OOTF members, who convinced me it would be turned around, and I would end up exacerbating the situation, like throwing gasoline on the fire, and stirring the pot so to speak.  So I gave it up. I just wrote letters to myself. I still write them.  The anger must go somewhere. It must come OUT!

2. I do have the right to my feelings of anger.  I earned every single second of it. I am not a bit ashamed of my anger, and my fury at what was done. But I thank God every day for John Gray. He taught me to write Feeling Letters.  Where I go down into the depths of the fury and anger and then come up into the light.  The sequence is Anger, then Sadness, then Fear, then Regrets, then Hope and Wants, then Gratitude. It helps, I go down, let it all out, then I come up, and I appreciate what I  can.  And there is actually a lot left to appreciate.

3. The only time I get aggressive is around PD’s. I laugh to even call it aggressive.  I get normal. I know thousands of people.  Literally. I worked in a huge organization for 36 years. Hundreds of people knew me on a first name basis. I got along with all. Except for handful for 36 years. Those who were PD? Sent me into some sort of world where I was an avenging angel waging war on the perpetrators of injustice. And I was protected.  There are LAWS against this stuff in the workplace.  Thank God. Between a perseverance and a belief that was always proved true that I can outlast your abuse, and I will fight and argue and learn every trick in the book, I won. I was not abusive, insubordinate, aggressive, or crazy.  I was calm, right, fair, honest, strong, and convicted. I KNEW as long as I stayed in control of my emotions, (piece of cake, I was taught to not have any), that in this environment?  I could win. And win I did. I outlasted every single one of those N bastards. There weren't very many. But oh God it was HARD to work for the two that I did.  And I continued to get promotions, until I hung up my gloves and retired from the ring.

The problems I fight in personal relationships are with being too submissive, and not sticking up for myself and not believing I have equal value and power. But this is changing by the day. I am getting stronger and stronger every day. My son told me in all seriousness last night, “Mom, me, and my aunt, and your dad, and your brother and even your roommate cannot all be crazy, it just has to be you. We cannot all be crazy. And I laughed out loud! 

Thank God for education. And knowledge. And therapists. And books. And my gut. All working together to teach me that yes indeedy they can too all be crazy. Every single one of them is abusive, lacks compassion and empathy, refuses to take responsibility for their own behavior, blames everything on me, refuses to apologize for anything ever, and thinks extremely highly of themselves… Yep they all are all of these things, and the common denominator is not me.  It is being in the same family.  And the roomie? She was my Narcissistic sister’s best friend and birds of a feather…

4.The opposite. I am reading everything I can find about abuse and how to stop it in its tracks. It is my current favorite past time. Things that are helping: 

Books:  Respect Me Rules by Dr. Mike Marshall and Shelley Marshall,  The Verbally Abusive Relationship and Controlling People by Patricia Evans, The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner, Boundaries When To Say Yes How To Say No by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.

Websites:  Youareatarget.com, drirene.com, soulselfhelp.on.ca, afternarcissiticabuse.wordpress.com

5.The opposite. I am learning to stick up for myself and not be a target or a victim any longer! And I get a LOT of practice around here at home.  Non triggering practice. Thankfully. And I think it is just as hard work to learn how to stick up for yourself, as it is to learn how to stop being a bully.  Maybe even HARDER. Because bullies do not have to fight through CPTSD before they can even make a response.  Bullies have NO IDEA of the emotional cost to me, and what I go through in order to stand up to their abusive behavior. It’s easy to beat down somebody who you feel is inferior to you?  But how hard is it to stand up to somebody who believes that, when you are also handicapped by CPTSD?  We are some of the bravest people on the planet.  In my humble opinion.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2015, 01:58:58 AM by VeryFoggy »

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bee

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Re: Self Help Activities: Anger and Preventing aggression
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2015, 03:52:40 AM »
Situations where I'm likely to act aggressive are when I get tired. For instance doing yard work. When I start cussing under my breath at the weeds, or branches or whatever I'm dealing with, I know it's past time to stop. Or working at the computer I start hitting the keys really hard when something doesn't go like I want it to.

Are these things I need to put a stop to? I know acting out like this is not the best choice, but is it completely unacceptable human behavior?

I also have a question about self directed aggression. Outside of sometimes swearing at inanimate objects the only person I show aggression to is myself. I do this with how I talk to myself inside my head. It also sometimes manifests in my driving myself to do more than I am capable of, ending in physical exhaustion. I'm trying to replace the mean/condescending tapes in my head with more encouraging ones. I know I'm not where I want to be, because when I compare what I think to myself, with what I would say to another person, the other person script is always much more empathatic and kind. Does anyone else struggle with this?

I also have a problem with being too submissive. I won't do anything I don't agree with, but I often do not speak my opinions. Though I recently had a breakthough and did. It was terrifying, but the world continued to spin on its axis. I think learning to do this regularly will help with the anger I have toward myself. I think the constant lack of sticking up for myself is part of what makes me angry with myself.

I was taught that I was not allowed to defend myself. To give you an idea how ingrained this was with me. 20 years ago I decided to learn a martial art so that I could protect myself. I chose aikido as it is the least aggressive one I could find. There were moves we were taught to disarm an attacker with a knife, then use that knife to stab their hand to the floor while we got away. Even in practice, with an invisible knife, I was not able to do that. My instructor tried to reason with me, explained that in this situation I was being attacked, I needed to defend myself. I could not do it. I simply couldn't complete the physical motions. I will bring this up to my T, during my M's verbal assaults, if I made an attempt to defend myself against her attacks she would get more vicious. We will do EMDR to picture me defending myself against her, I think that will help. This matters because a healthy part of anger is using it to defend oneself.

I've started writing angry letters, no intention of sending, as VeryFoggy suggested. That is a helpful outlet. I've also had a few EMDR sessions that revealed instances of how I had felt I let myself down, I was able to forgive myself for those things. Also helpful. I'd love to hear other things that people are doing to channel their anger.

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VeryFoggy

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Re: Self Help Activities: Anger and Preventing aggression
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2015, 01:35:47 AM »
Bee, I have to wonder why you feel like it is not okay to get mad at the weeds or bang the keyboard?  We have a lot of anger inside of us, and it needs to come out. What you are doing is completely harmless and normal.  So no, you do not need to feel bad about it or stop it.

Swing that pick axe, bang that keyboard, and whack those weeds!  You are doing the right thing for yourself.  Which nobody else ever did. For you.  And it has got to come out.  It is poison and it will kill you if you do not let it out. You are doing NOTHING that hurts any body!  Do it for yourself because you deserve to let that anger out!

As for what you say to yourself?  I don't know.  I say mean things too, to myself, but lately I just scream NO!  Stop it! And then I try to be nicer to myself.

It is very scary to share our opinions.   My PD roommate told me a story recently about how she had ripped her husband a new one for leaving her father at the airport alone.  Her father as an adult had requested to be left.  I looked my roomie in the eye and I said,  "I am with your husband on his decision.  Your father is a grown man and if he did not want a baby sitter, then he had the right to say so.  Your husband was right to leave him."  The sky did not fall.  Her mouth fell open because I did not agree with her, but the sky did not fall.

It's a good experience.  To say what we think and what we believe.  Keep doing it.  It will make you feel better about yourself.