I attended a SIRPA CPD webinar last week with David Hanscom in which he spoke about anxiety and how we use it as a psychological response to a threat to keep us safe.
All repressed thoughts and emotions are seen as a threat and anxiety is generated by a response to a threat by our thoughts.
He then went on to say:
“Anger is anxiety with a kick!”
It got me thinking about how anxiety and anger are linked.
If anxiety is a survivor response and it is not who we are, if we can’t express anger safely or even recognise it as an emotion, it comes out as anxiety ( ie take notice of me). Anxiety is more acceptable to society and to ourselves whereas anger is seen as a loss of control, or we may have learnt that it has repercussion from earlier incidents in our lives.
To take back control he suggests that we use these tools with our clients:
- Breathing whilst humming to engage the vagus nerve which is what calms our system down (it lies at the back of the throat).
- Take control of your life i.e. have a vision to move forward.
- Use expressive writing (don’t analyse your thoughts), David Hanscom suggests a book, ‘Open up by Writing Down’.
- Don’t discuss your pain or symptoms with anyone.
- Don’t get upset with something you can’t control.
- Use a visualisation of a thermometer to control the anxious thoughts
- Practice self-soothing, (Havening) and mindfulness meditation
It really made me think too about situations that I have found myself in. Personally, I get caught out when someone gets angry with me, it makes me highly anxious, I really do not understand the emotion or its usefulness. Here is a definition I found on google:
‘Anger is best viewed as a tool that helps us read and respond to upsetting social situations. Research overwhelmingly indicates that feeling angry increases optimism, creativity, effective performance—and research suggests that expressing anger can lead to more successful negotiations, in life or on the job.’
However, anger can become problematic if it leads to aggression, outbursts, or even physical altercations. Anger control is important for helping us avoid saying or doing something we may regret. Before anger escalates, we can learn and use specific strategies for controlling anger.
In my household growing up, if I showed anger or got ‘stroppy’ it was beaten out of me, I guess at that stage I must have made a vow to myself that anger = violence. It’s frightening and scary, you’re unable to articulate how you feel, if you do try to defend yourself it can ramp the anger up, it can put you in danger, it was yet another example of loss of control.
I have therefore chosen not to have anger in my life, I admit to sometimes avoiding confrontation and walking away as there is still some primal deep down fear for me as a adult that anger = loss of control and violence. Or, as David Hanscom might say you are showing signs of anxiety.
But anger can also be healthy if approached in the right way.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Get the anger out by journaling, beating a pillow, screaming out loud, writing an unsent letter – really letting it rip about how it makes you feel. It may be being ignored, a sense of injustice, being unable to express emotions appropriately in the situation you find yourself i – perhaps a lack of insensitivity on someone’s part.
- Do anything you can think of to get this emotion out so that you are not suppressing anger before it turns into anxiety. Do this but in a safe way.
- The fact is that anger can be a very helpful emotion if used properly and in the right context. In other words anger should not be used as a way to control or annihilate other people. Anger is not a sign of strength especially when it is explosive.
- Walk or run it off.
- Use the anger to motivate you to change things.
- Start to really notice your emotions and see what symptoms come up.
- Look after yourself, don’t put yourself into situations where anger is your last line of defence.
What other ideas or techniques might you have that you could add to the list above?
If you have found the contents of this Blog raises issues for you or you are struggling with anxiety or anger please do get in touch through the website:
www.chronicpainreliefonline.clinic and make an appointment to speak to one of our practitioners.