I wouldn’t call it a great movie but the movie ‘Anger Management‘ released in 2003, starring Adam Sander and Jack Nicholson, did highlight an aspect of anger that is often overlooked and ignored, that of inappropriately not feeling or expressing anger. I can totally relate to this.
I spent many years believing I was patient and tolerant as a person, and that I was naturally even tempered, and well in charge of my emotions. I did not get angry. I did not feel angry. I felt composed most of the time. If I did not feel composed I squashed the feeling response until I did. I grew up with little emotional response to things that occurred around me, and my judgement of myself was that this was good. As an approach it kept me safe, and I now know that is what it was all about, feeling safe. By stifling my experience and expression of emotion I was able to control my external response to people and situations. I looked calm and did not take any sudden action, or cause any ripples with those around me. In fact I had layers of protection that ensured I kept myself to myself.
I had a four-year-old part or role that ran away and hid, feeling unwanted and inadequate. I had a seven-year-old part that looked after the 4-year-old part, keeping him safe and hidden, and could be quite comforting. He was very vigilant to danger and emotionally shutdown. I could cope better as a 7-year-old if I did not show my emotions. The 11-year-old part of me was even more protective, even more emotionally shutdown, keeping both the 4 and 7 year old parts safe, with less of the caring component. At 17 I developed another role within myself that was a response to anger and physical danger. It would use anger and urgency to silence any part of me that wanted to speak out or be noticed. Anger was buried very deep within me under all these layers.
For more than 15 years I have been developing awareness of each of these roles within me, understanding the events at the time that encouraged these roles to develop, addressing the threats and fears that these various roles were created in response to, and learning to express myself more immediately and authentically, sometimes with anger. I now know that anger was a strong part of my life, but feeling unable to express it, I directed it at myself. That was damaging on many levels. Unexpressed anger is problematic and needs to be worked through so full, authentic expression is possible.
Gratitude is a gift to yourself in that it can help expand your sense of who you are and your sense of well being. By connecting with blessings in your life, acknowledging them, and allowing the experience of feeling blessed to wash over you, you also get a increased sense of being okay, worthy, and a strengthened confidence that whatever hurdles you are facing, you can overcome. Ah, the cynics among you might argue, believing you can overcome is potentially deluded, that there is no guarantee. Of course that is the case, but better to face a challenge with a sense of well-being and worthiness than with a belief that you are undeserving and merit bad things happening. Get into gratitude and practice feeling grateful for everything you can identify, and enjoy the benefit of an expanded sense of self. It won’t hurt, and it can make a positive difference to your whole outlook on life.
When you are experiencing fear, even if unconscious of it, the tendency is to contract and strengthen protections around you. Much of this process is unconscious and the patterns so ingrained that you don’t even know it is happening. There are some broad categories of fear-based reaction, which I generically refer to as Survive Reactions, fight and flight are very instinctual, based in the amygdala of the brain. Freeze and fabricate are higher brain level reactions. These all carry a short-term focus, are reactionary and at best could be considered tactical. Thrive Responses are based on consciously making choices that are longer-term focused, are based on love rather than fear, and have the potential of creating positive results into the future. The individual thrive responses are assert, attend, act, and authenticate. By recognising when a survive reaction is being used, you can develop a capacity to intercede and choose a thrive response, and create different results. Through practice in developing awareness and owning your ability to choose your own actions, your quality of life can change and your personal power will increase.
“I feel fragile and sad. What shall I do?”
Responses vary but many people have a natural response of putting the hurt behind them, looking for the positive way forward, and getting on with life. That’s a great capacity and skill to have. There are times when parking our current feelings and getting on with life is crucial. However, anything overused can be problematic. An alternative, and one not so commonly espoused, is to take some time and be a friend to the part of you that is hurting, or angry, or confused, or whatever it is, and love that part. Ask that part of you what it needs, what it is afraid of, and as a loving friend deeply listen. Loving yourself in those moments of distress and intimately connecting with your feelings and needs, can have potent and lasting healing power, and is a fabulous means to building a meaningful relationship with yourself. It has an integrative benefit where the often shamed and isolated part(s) of you learn to trust, connect and be with the rest of you. Resilience and power can develop more fully in that environment.
Every time you step into something new there are potential threats and opportunities. There is the unknown that may stir up fears within you, and also there are the hopes of something worthwhile, else you would be unlikely to venture forward. Stepping into a new space is a new birth and carries vulnerability, the uncertainty and the ignorance of what exists beyond the place you’re at. There can be a significant sense of aloneness and fragility like a butterfly emerging from its’ cocoon. At such times it is great to be companioned by true friends, those who you trust and who offer a degree of safety and prior experience as you learn to grow and expand in the new world. And when you cannot find someone to trust, then is a truly good time to feel a strong connection with your own self, and be open to trusting your capacity to cope with whatever may come your way, even if you have little reason to know how you will manage.
In this crazy rat race we live in it can all too often feel superficial and divorced from reality. You might find yourself alone and adrift when surrounded by many people clamouring to ‘connect’ with you. Where is the real connection? Where is authenticity? What and who can you trust? Start with yourself. Forget your personality and all the learned baggage and protection you have developed over your lifetime. Build and strengthen the relationship you have with yourself, and allow others to see and experience the real you. That can be a scary and highly rewarding journey. Once initiated life and expansion becomes increasingly available, rather than contraction and effort of maintaining a façade. As you become more willing and able to present yourself authentically then you’ll find you draw into your life more people who are authentic with you.
If you have ever wanted to experience fog, try installing a new application as part of the process. It has largely gone well, with the installation of WordPress running smoothly, settings seemingly going well, and then I imported blog posts from my previous blog site. They all show up in the list of pages. Then I go to the site to view as a visitor might…
The fog is building. All I get is error messages for every link I select. The titles of imported posts are showing, but they all produce errors when clicked. Hmm. Frustration. Anxious because of other matters to deal with imposing time constraints, and sense of spaciousness amidst all that because no one will find this blog or its errors as I have not told anyone it exists.
Finding a way of relaxing and reducing pressure is a great way of reducing the intensity of self-imposed fog, something I remind myself of when I am wise enough to check in with the part of me that knows. Time to post this and then calmly, spaciously do some problem solving. Finding my way out of this fog will be a pleasure, and I will be a step closer to a fully functioning web site.