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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Who Me? Angry?

By Mike Finecey, MA, LPC, LISAC

You make me so angry!” Have you ever gotten so angry that you’ve said something you’ve regretted or walked away hurt and disappointed? Do you repeat the same old argument over and over again with the same result? While the subject of the discussion may change, the results are the same; anger, hurt, pain, regret. Does the anger reach levels where fear prevails or safety becomes compromised?

What is Anger?
It’s been suggested that anger is simply externalized fear. The internal feeling of fear is externalized and expressed as anger to mask one’s vulnerable emotion of fear. Fear of losing something one has, or fear of not receiving something one wants. Anger, can be a place where addictions are born. How old were you when you discovered anger worked or didn’t?
Did you notice when anger was present, people backed up and you learned anger protected you from getting hurt? You may have learned anger could be scary, or anger wasn’t allowed and something to be avoided if we were to feel safe. The question is, does anger or avoidance of it protect you from pain?

Overt vs. Covert Anger
Often times anger is expressed openly; therefore we know when someone is upset. An openly angry person is expressive, can be loud, vocal, destructive to self and others and outward in their emotions. This is referred to as overt anger. On the other hand, some people may not be aware of their anger or express it openly at all. They are more manipulative, passive, sly, or gossip and watch what happens. This is referred to as covert anger. When you’re angry do you express it openly or stew about it and get even later? We can do both depending on who we’re near, our significant other vs. our boss for example.


How do you score?
Are you with someone who has anger or are you the one with it, such that, on a scale of zero to ten, where anger is expressed at an eight or more? This is to be measured by the person receiving the anger, not by the one who is angry. The one who is angry has control of the anger and may believe this powerful emotion is at a much lower scale. If you accept you have anger issues needing to be resolved, ask someone close to you to rate it. If your anger is typically zero, one, two or three, its healthy anger and about what’s happening now. When anger reaches the eight, nine and ten level, it’s unhealthy. People with higher scores are dealing with issues of history. High scores of anger tend to be about past events and not what is currently happening.

Fighting To Be Right vs. Fighting To Not Be Wrong
Anger is fear. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Anger experienced on a scale of eight or more is not driven or caused by the person receiving the anger. It is you experiencing an event, similar to an event that happened in the past. This is “your side of the street”. Healthy anger has a scale of zero to three, not eight to ten. When you’re angry, are you angry and wanting to be right or are you angry and wanting not to be wrong?
Fighting not to be wrong, implies you know you’re wrong and don’t want anyone to know it. Fighting to be right requires the other person to be wrong and no one can win. Fighting to be right will result in rejection by one or both. Those with a fear of rejection get to prove they’re right, yet ultimately will be rejected.

Treating the Fear
If anger is fear, then what causes our fear? Anger at an eight or higher can be an emotion from your life story you’ve never found a way to control. When you hurt and can’t control it, you use anger to protect. What is the emotion that you’ve been unable to control? To know this old emotion is to understand the trigger of your own addiction. To know that you have a fear from your history that you can’t resolve gives you the opportunity to re-parent yourself and resolve it. In the meantime, recalibrate anger to a scale of three or less. When you reach a three, take a time out to take care of yourself and the emotion you’ve used anger to control.
Twelve-step work, specifically the 4th, 5th, and 6th steps, are designed to assist in this self-examination. Conducting a complete moral inventory will shed light to one’s character defects and fears, identify wrongs, and highlight healthy options for future behavior. Additionally, countless people in recovery benefit from outside assistance from professionals. As you trudge the road of happy destiny, embrace all available to you. Proceed on this journey with open-mindedness, willingness and honesty. As a result, you’ll discover who you are, why you are who you are, and what to do with what you’ve discovered!

Michael is the co-founder and Clinical Director of North Pointe Counseling Center. Michael holds a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling, and a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering and Technologies.
Visit http://www.npccaz.com/