Have you ever noticed how your judgments about what you think is happening can quickly fuel and escalate a situation? And later look back and see that much of what you were thinking and feeling had very little to do with the situation at the time?
Our anger is often a result of compounded situations that have not been dealt with which contribute to fueling whatever is stimulating us at the moment. It is as if we are on automatic pilot and are only able to see what is painful to us. When we get “triggered” we seem to lose all our rational understanding. It’s as if we no longer know how to take care of ourselves and so lose our ability to navigate our emotions. What is going on? How can a tone of voice, or a look set us off to the point where we lose all reason and rationality?
Have you ever noticed times when you were angry with someone and found the anger diminishing when you were able to understand their point of view and their intention? When that happens I realize how anger often has very little to do with the person who stimulates it. That’s when I know it’s my own “wild thoughts and crazy thinking” that is responsible for my anger. I find my anger is primarily based on fear or hurt and when I am afraid or hurt, I do things to protect myself from vulnerability, like getting angry instead of being vulnerable and showing my fear or pain. When I do this I distance myself. I “attack and defend”. I forget about my humanity and the humanity of whomever or whatever stimulates my anger.
Anger is an important emotion. It lets us know that needs of ours are not being met. Yet I notice when I go into a reactive response, I often find I am not very effective in getting those needs met. The reactive anger becomes the issue instead of the issue, which can mean the real issue is not dealt with. It’s important for me to express my emotions fully, yet I know when I am in a reactive response I am not expressing myself from a place of awareness. In those moments I don’t even know what is happening inside of me except that I am upset. How can we get needs met if we don’t even have the presence of mind to know what we want? This is when I notice it is time to step back and do some internal investigation; to take some time and find out what it is I want that I am not getting. It often is an old core wound that continually replays in the mind, like wanting to be fully seen and understood, or accepted and loved.
By focusing on our needs: being seen, understood, accepted and loved. We can shift from thoughts and judgments and get a better understanding about what is actually going on for us. When we have a clearer understanding of ourselves, we may become less agitated and more able to articulate what it is we want.