How did it start?
Our experiences under the age of three gave us emotions from which we made assumptions about our world. Around us were others that modelled what permissible behaviour was, but often what they said we must do was idealized and different from what they did themselves. We tested life out for ourselves reinforcing learnt patterns into the foundation of our being. So our practiced behaviour became our way of engaging with reality.
We tried our anger out in different circumstances. Sometimes the feelings we expressed were pushed back at us and we learned to turn our anger in and to pretend it wasn’t really there. But it would always come out again when there was a gap, usually against those who were more defenseless. We may have found out that anger gave us power, that people backed off and gave way as we pushed against them. We all have unique fight and flight responses and these have many nuances in each of us.
As children we started out uncertain, but as we grew we sought evidence that supported our chosen core assumptions. So our unhelpful, habitual behaviours became entrenched and our pattern of what we did if someone pressed our buttons became the identity we were known by.
We all so long for acceptance by others and we felt the pressure of how we should be. So we learnt ways to bury our ugly stuff so that we could be loved and seen as lovable. However, these control mechanisms became more and more difficult to manage as we got older. The truth eventually comes out. Others will also come to know us by our dominant emotions, in our outbursts, sulking or other chosen pattern. It’s like we’ve burnt a path in our brain that’s not helpful. It needs very little to fire it up and lose control without our even thinking. This life-sucking behaviour is scary and so many of us will drink, take tablets, eat, exercise, whatever our chosen addictive drug is, in order to cope with our raging emotions.
Our unrighteous and inappropriate anger causes a lot of pain. We are not victims of our lives and we can’t just react and lay blame for who we are on others. We are part of a broken world and it’s vital for each of us to find healing for our damaged and dysfunctional reactions. Since it is so easy to rationalize our behaviour, we will need others around us to help keep us honest, so that our anger becomes a transformative and life-giving force.
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Anger Books from Sergio’s Shelf: