By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Years ago, I acquired a mini-poster showing how anger is actually due to a myriad of other emotions. It was one of those moments that helped to bring so many things into perspective. Anger is more of a reactive symptom, so when I see anger in my clients I look for the antecedent/cause.
I often show the poster to my clients so that they can understand their own anger, or the anger of a significant other. As many have explored their own anger, two additional causative factors have been added: feeling misunderstood and betrayal. Here is the complete list (in no particular order). Are there any influences that you would like to add?
Think about the times that you have felt or acted angry, and look at the list to identify your underlying emotion(s) to better recognize the real issue(s). Next, I encourage you to additionally go one step further. Think back and identify when in your history, most frequently during your childhood, you experienced that earlier emotion. Emotional extremes, like anger, are usually triggered by an earlier experience, for which the current event is a reminder. Now you have the potential to address it at its root in order to release the anger.
Fear is another emotional extreme. This is because there are rarely any situations of true endangerment. Yet our physiologic system doesn’t differentiate, and assumes that we are in true danger. When we understand the process, we can actually minimize our physical symptoms and our related thoughts and feelings. I have written about this in numerous articles including Transforming Fear. To summarize the techniques:
- Remember that the fight/flight response lasts only ninety seconds
- Use mindfulness, breath, and relaxation to calm your thoughts and body’s reactions
- Change from worrying to doing
- Reduce your sensory and emotional input with energy modulation and other techniques
- Use good boundaries
- Stay out of story (fear is False Evidence Appearing Real)
I believe that fear, like anger, can be looked at as a secondary issue. In fact, fear and anger appear to often be distractors and thus agents of resistance. Let me pause for a moment to acknowledge that sensory overload and other biological factors can be the source of anxiety, or elevated emotional states that trigger anger. But I have seen that worry and anger flood the system so that you are effectively distracted from the real issues. Thus patterns, themes, and root causes are often buried under layers of behaviors and words. Consequently, fear and anger can be perceived as communicators – pointing you, or a therapist, to the underlying truths.
Humans by nature are inclined to move away from those things that are uncomfortable. Regarding fear, author Eckhart Tolle reminds us to stop running from the fear and to turn to look at it instead. I’ve actually done this, and it’s true that the thing that was kept in hiding is not as big and scary as formerly believed. In fact, it’s always smaller and less frightening than the unknown that I was running from. Tolle is right!
What is the truth that you may be running from?
- Often it is a misunderstanding or inaccuracy that developed from the experiences of your Inner Child. Transform yourself into the caring adult and assure your inner child that you have a deeper, broader understanding of the events, as well as the skills to keep your inner child/you safe.
- If you experienced a traumatic event, I urge you to partner with a qualified trauma expert to help you release without reliving the trauma. These include professionals trained in Havening Therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), or Somatic (Body-Oriented) Therapy.
- Are you running from your own worth? Author Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Might you be ready to uncover the layers between you and Who You Really Are?
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield, MI. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties; work or school related anxiety; ADHD; Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders; and those who wish to Remember and Become ‘Who You Really Are’. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www. SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to replace medical care.