Anger. Irritation. Fiery. Cold and implacable. Indignation. Righteous. Infuriated. Resentment. Tantrum. Enmity. Fury. Hatred. Violence. Blow up. Mad. Rage. We have a lot of words to describe the varying intensity of anger.
Is it dangerous to feel angry? It feels dangerous to have anger directed at us. Our experience as children with our parents emotional self-regulation, or lack of it, directly influences our reactions as adults.
Anger can be a fire that clears the way to see our truth. It can fuel right action. It can also obscure like a red fog.
Emotional flooding happens when someone feels threatened into a fight response. It feels like a life or death threat and our primitive brain takes over to ensure our survival. There is no reasoning with someone in a rage. Children are powerless against an adult’s anger. We don’t know what could happen. It is experienced as a life threat because it is! It terrifies us.
Feeling powerless, we turn against ourselves and develop core deficiency beliefs. We desperately hope that things could get better. If we were only quieter, smarter, more cunning, stronger, funnier – we could make our parents feel better and we’d be safe. And at some point we realize our strategies aren’t working. We failed to save the day, stop the violence, make them happy, heal their illness, make ourselves safe.
Some of us deflate. Numb out. Feel depressed and overwhelmed. Escape into addiction.
Some of us lash out and feed on the rush of adrenaline and power coursing through our system. This is SO much better than feeling powerless. We determine we are no longer the victim. Others are afraid of us. Now we are the one in control. No one will ever hurt us like that again.
There is another way. We can heal from a childhood of fear and disconnection. We are adults now and have more resources. A survival level threat to a child may be distressing to us and trigger old feelings. It is also true that we can develop our strength and resilience to widen our window of tolerance. We see through our core deficiency beliefs and fully acknowledge that it was not our fault. We had no control over the adults in our lives. We were doing the best we could to survive and if we lashed out or went numb or whatever we did, we may have regrets but we made it through.
If anger or rage is or was one of your trauma responses, invite it in and get to know the mechanism. Let yourself realize that it was there to protect you. You may have reparations to make and relationships to mend. There are ways to do that.
Your most important relationship is with yourself. Release shaming and judging. Do your own deep healing work. Calm your fear. Support yourself through your adult self.
Gather in your resources. Develop your strength and capacity to stand and take up space in your life. Be in the world authentically as yourself. Your life is not over. There is time.