Anger is an energetic, emotional response to some type of uncomfortable feeling, physical or emotional, including pain, illness, rejection, threat, loss, grief, disappointment, etc), or anticipation of such a feeling. Yet uncomfortable feelings alone are not the cause. Triggering thoughts, especially judgments or perceptions of potential or real harm, threat, or vulnerability are also required. The thought can be as simple as a memory of a seemingly related experience, or expectation of one.
The energy of anger motivates action to deal with the threat or the associated feelings. This urge wants to change something, so it seeks a target, outside or inside. The action chosen can take a wide range of forms with a wide range of results, both constructive and destructive.
Anger can also be a substitute emotion for uncomfortable feelings, a form of distraction in which a choice, conscious or unconscious, is made to get angry rather than feel pain/discomfort or feel helpless and powerless in relation to it. Utilizing anger can promote an attention shift - from self-focus to other-focus, providing a false sense of power, protection and control.
Getting angry may serve to reduce feelings of fear and vulnerability by transferring them to something or someone else, thus putting another person in the victim role. In addition to providing a good smoke screen for feelings of vulnerability, anger also offers a false sense of power, righteousness, and moral superiority to make up for a lack of self-esteem.
Many of us have been encouraged to deny, repress, or hide many uncomfortable feelings and vulnerabilities by transforming them into anger, yet at deep levels they persist. Not fully facing and befriending them limits our full expression of aliveness, interferes with all our relationships, and undermines our health and wellbeing.
The human mind-body operating system embodies life experience of by cross linking elements of thought, feeling, and action. Awareness of how we operate is the doorway into understanding ourselves and relationships with others. We unawarely took on a sense of self-identity and storyline that we reflexively operate within, a brilliant design of evolution, that helps us survive under familiar conditions. Yet our minds also possess the amazing capacity to be self aware and self reflect, in other words observe the thoughts, feelings, and actions it is generating. This provides us with abilities to adapt, adjust, or change how we operate, i.e. shift into new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting, when challenged by the unfamiliar.
Shift out of reflexively operating and drop into self awareness by breathing slowly and deeply while noticing thoughts, feelings, and actions as they come and go.
Our mind's default operating system is driven by fear - of not being safe, not mattering, and not belonging. It instinctively looks for what's wrong in order to take action to address problems. By stepping outside of this insecure mindset and adopting virtuous practices, we may find that human beings are expressions of LOVE.
Take charge of your perception of present moment reality by slowing down, breathing slowly, and affirming that you are OK as you are, even though you may be having some insecure thoughts, feelings or bodily reactions, which tend to feel uncomfortable. The more we can acknowledge and tolerate such discomfort, and see it as normal and healthy, the more present we can be for ourselves and others. Over time, practicing a positive mindset will result in less and less regression and reactivity during stressful situations.
We are born into the world with survival instincts that revolve around seemingly insatiable needs to be physically secure, to have value or purpose, and to belong to a community. As we grow and develop, these basic insecurities serve as drives to adapt in order to satisfy these needs. In the process we develop strengths, talents, skills, capabilities, achievements, and relationships that are useful for individual and group survival. And yet, when stressed or threatened, we easily revert back to primitive feelings of vulnerability and reactive thought and behavior patterns that are typical of early childhood. This can be especially problematic during relationship challenges when both parties are feeling insecure.
By offering unconditional love to all your thoughts, feelings, and actions, in the forms shown in the 5 step pyramid above, you begin to rebuild or enhance your sense of self. It is even possible to rebuild your relationship to your child self by recalling distant memories and imagining your present day self appearing to offer compassionate support during situations where it was needed but lacking. Repeating such a visualization many times enables you to re-parent yourself.
The more your identity is attached to what is familiar to you, the harder it is to experience today and tomorrow without being under the influence of your past. By becoming the observer of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, you can begin to appreciate how the large majority of them are arising in relation to past, and not present, experience. Who are you, if not the storyline that orients you to your world. What would it be like to step beyond it? What becomes possible?
The human mind creates our "experiences" by linking processes of thought, feeling, and action which take place in different parts of the brain. Mindfulness practices and self-reflection can help us recognize how we create and maintain false personal "realities" or story lines, and open doorways to transformation.
Our 3 deepest fears are that we are not safe, we do not matter, and that we do not belong. Fear drives us to address these essential needs in some way and to be on the lookout for any threats to their not being met. Perceptions that our security needs are being met bring satisfaction and pride, while indications they are not being met brings angst and shame. To ensure survival of our species, our brains evolved a heightened sensitivity to insecurity fears, a strong propensity (bias) to be suspicious, doubting, or go negative. That is why it is important to counterbalance this leaning by noticing and appreciating all evidence that we are safe, secure, and connected. Practicing gratitude works.
Curious? Give it a look-see now at: psychimages.com
Deeper self awareness and personal transformation are facilitated by creating a safe, warm, accepting environment where each person is invited to relax, experience what is going on inside, and express whatever thoughts, feelings, and responses arise in regard to something they wish to explore. Try it out!
Evolution of life as we know it depends on the interplay of division and unification.
Says Rumi: Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two a beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds' wings. This is good reason to celebrate our differences!
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