IFS & an angry part - Confusing anger & violence


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Can anyone else relate and/or share insight? In my therapy we do IFS and discovered a very very angry part. Extremely disadvantaged upbringing, I won't go into the whole story, but one of the themes in it is domestic violence. My mothers partner was a very dangerous man and used to beat her endlessly whilst my twin brother and I watched. He had served time in prison for years and was fresh out when he met my mother. Anyway during my therapy session it came out that I refuse to allow myself to get angry (until I explode) because I confuse anger with violence. As a teenager I used to self harm to deal with my anger, now that we are looking at it in therapy I am angry all the times, I ashamed to say that I have been disrespectful to my partner not violent but name calling which is disgusting behavior when I explode. I am so ashamed of my anger and I am scared of everyone's anger that if someone gets angry with me that's me off. My partner is the only one who sees my anger and my therapist. We discovered recently that I explode to warn people off because I fear (sorry if this sounds dramatic but its my somatic experience) being killed. when I was younger living with that man I do remember feeling I was going to be killed, to the point I tried to do it so I wouldn't have to live in anticipation. now as an adult and mother of two I have to find ways to deal with this anger and I haven't got the faintest idea. I feel toxic, I feel out of control where my anger is concerned. I spend so much time trying to contain it and not react but it wears me down to the point I explode in the end. Has anyone felt this way and did ye find useful ways in managing your anger?


Yes. You are exploring anger. It isn’t to try to contain it, but to understand healthy anger vs letting it build so that it becomes unhealthy and sets you to feeling guilty. Try being very purposeful for awhile. As soon as you feel anger, go write in a journal. I’m feeling angry, i can or can’t name why. I know anger passes. I know I dont always have to let people know I am angry. I can write it down and release some of it. I used to explode, but it was because I never said what was going on when I knew. For me it was an unmet need that I refused to talk about, but when it kept getting unmet then I would explode. I had to learn that people are safe to say to them I need help with xyz. I also learned to go away quick if I was going to snap, so I could gain control and think it through. I have learned to settle a bit before it becomes an explosion. I’ve had to be honest though and say, if I take off it’s because I have to regroup and focus on what is helpful to say or do. I also learned that I really did want to respond not react and worked on recognizing responses vs reactions. I sometimes take 24hrs now before I go back and speak into a situation and I am way calmer because all the fuel left me.


I used to say nothing, do nothing but kind of pretend I wasn't really in the room (or leave the room when possible) and that approach didn't work....and nothing changed. When I'm angry, I have issues with jumbled words and while I know what I want to say, sometimes I just can't get it to come out right and then I feel dumb-on top of angry. So, I, too have learned the 24 hr + rule. Waiting to deal with something is better than dealing with it in the moment poorly. It's okay to let someone else be the jack ass, but if I'm angry and I don't walk away, then there is the likelihood that I'll say or do something in a state of anger that will just fuel the situation, adding more conflict, and make me feel bad....taking the focus off of the other guy who started the crap in the first place. Getting away from the situation and waiting until I come up with a rational response tends to work best for me......and I often write my response (type it) and then revise it a couple of times before implementing.


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These comments make so much sense. Thank you for sharing, I am going to put this into action. I figured out that Im afraid of my own anger majority of the time I will turn on myself and then people get a bit of it as well. Thank you.


hello laurlee. welcome to the healing network.

by the time i started confronting my anger, i was downright explosive and an anger explosion turned me into a loose cannon rolling and targeting mindlessly across the deck of whatever ship i happened to be on at the moment of the explosion. my rages were well into the blackout stages where i had no memory of what i had done while i was raging. those were frightening beyond frightening.

my own recovery from this condition started with "radical acceptance" and "anger channeling." in the radical acceptance stage, i learned to recognize my anger in the early stages without attempting to understand or control it. my first effective anger channel was self-defense classes. channeling my anger into learning how to defend myself gave me a self-empowerment which gave me the self-confidence to confront and heal my anger rather than letting it run my life. as my anger grew less volatile, the understanding of what was going on became easier without the intoxication of the anger hormones. i had repressed quite allot of justifiable anger during my criminally dysfunctional childhood.

fast forward a few decades and vigorous physical workouts remain my most effective anger channel. it works when i work it.

gentle empathy and stabilizing support while you find what works for you. you are not alone.


Totally understandable that you might feel anger. Anger at this man as well as anger at your mom for not bringing this man into your home and not being able to protect you. In IFS your angry part is very welcome and very valuable giving you such useful information and of course its intention is to save you. In therapy you will probably have explored the exile/ child/ adolescent parts of you that were affected by this and which your firefighter is protecting. In my own experience there may be more than one child who is angry-there can be alliances of exiles and alliances of manager parts. The trick is to be able to unblend from the parts to get back into the core of self and then eventually to lead your life and all your parts from Self. You are on the right path my friend-congratualtions for getting this far and good luck with the road ahead which can be long but more often than not Self can be found just around the corner.