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Posted By Clifton Fuller on 04/17/2020

Anger feels like power!

Anger feels like power!

Anger feels like power but what are its actual consequences and its purpose?

As we deal with stressful, traumatic or life-changing events, we experience powerful emotions. Some initially experience shock, or a feeling of emotional detachment, in an effort to deal with emotions. Some may even experience unexpected bouts of tears at impromptu times when least expected.

One particularly difficult emotion connected to trauma is 'powerlessness'. This feeling may lead to aggression which becomes physical or verbal attacks of innocent people. It may result in stereotyping or shunning particular ethnic, religious or socio-economic groups. It may be expressed in vandalism of property, churches, homes, or businesses.

The 'fight or flight' response, instinctively felt following a trauma, dumps adrenalin into our bodies. The flight aspect of this response makes us feel weak, agitated, helpless, and small. We much prefer the feelings of anger, which make us feel more powerful, more 'in control'. Our muscles become more rigid, our hearts beat faster, our eyes dilate, and our lungs expand. 

Most people tend to prefer to experience aggressive rather than anxious thoughts. (Anger turned inward is depression. Anger turned outward is aggression).  When we feel this emotion, if not managed effectively & understood, then a person may seek an outlet for the agitation or 'tension' being felt.

Anger is a heavy, distracting emotion, causing us to focus myopically (short-sighted focusing). It affects our hearts, health, minds, families, friends, and yes, even our nation. If left unaddressed, it boils over into domestic violence, abuse, road rage, impulsive reactions, decisions made & later regretted, threats, medical difficulties and hostility.

We consider children, who bully or do not control anger (temper tantrums), as immature. Yet many adults react in the same vindictive, temper tantrum throwing way.

Adults who exert physical force or manipulate others are called abusive. They, through their actions, are actually displaying their own unacknowledged feelings of low self-esteem.  They are driven to 'display their power' over others in order to counteract their own feeling of worthlessness or in an effort to experience value within themselves. 

To deal with anger, we must all 'take a deep breath' and recognize the fact our bodies are giving us powerful signals.  We must think through our feelings and anger (which is the secondary response to fear, loss, pain or frustration) and accept that we may actually be individually powerless.  It may be difficult to admit we can't control everything in life, accept that we may not be able to retaliate or punish others who do not respect us, our values, faith or even our way of life. 

We can learn to express these feelings verbally, but first we must be honest with ourselves and willing to face and address the loss, fear and frustration. To face a loss, we must accept the truth. We grieve, allow ourselves to feel anger, but also understand we can control, redirect and USE our feelings constructively instead of reactively. We may have to learn to be strong enough to actually say, and mean it, "I'm sorry for the way I acted and my anger."

If someone steps on my foot, I may quickly turn around to fight, as an instinctive, protective response. But what if I realize it's mybest friend who stepped on my foot? Am I able to control that anger? Certainly. We all do it all the time.

Let's face life's obstacles and trials, being as wise as possible in preventing traumatic situations, or playing into the hands of those who would make us lose control. Redirect powerful feelings of anger into productive actions (helping a family in need, exercising, cleaning the garage!, volunteering at a local crisis shelter, organizing a fund raiser to help others).

When crises occur, as they will in life, remember anger isn't power, no matter how much it feels like it.
Anger only goes so far before it destroys the carrier.

It's vital that individuals learn methods to effectively handle anger when it occurs (as it will in life), but that they also teach their teens and children effective ways to handle anger.  A pivotal time to teach young children is during the 'terrible twos' when young children are developmentally learning to separate from their mother or primary care-giver.  Children (or adults) who have attachment disorders will also need help learning how to address impulse control issues related to anger control, identify the 'triggers' that set off explosions of anger, and how to gain control of those feelings.

Contact our offices if we can help you or a family or friend address the complex issues related to anger & its management.

This information is provided courtesy of the independent counseling offices of: Clifton Fuller, LCSW, LPC, LMFT
15303 Huebner Rd #10, San Antonio, TX 78248 
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 Clifton Fuller
 Fuller & Associates



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