We can control anger

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
I posted a thread that got a lot of replies a while back about anger. I feel pretty strongly that folks with ptsd should not use it as an excuse to target toxic anger onto others. The people who deserve our anger is our abusers, but we often cause our partners and children suffering by directing our anger at them which egregiously multiplies suffering in the world. I do believe that there is justified anger in response to not getting what you need from a partner, for example. And it's important to act on that feeling, communicate them, and find a resolution. But I think that people with ptsd can sometimes exploit those opportunities to boil over with anger that isn't deserved. I'm bringing this all up again because I read this article recently. I read something similar a while back. It questions the western notion that anger is like on reserve and needs to be vented once in a while. The truth is, getting angry leads to building up the habit of getting more angry. Refraining from anger helps getting in the habit of being cool. Inuit parents never get angry and sees it as immature and weak when parents do. The Inuit don't shout at their children – so why do we?
 

RubyBlue

Policy Enforcement
I feel like you’re mixing a couple concepts that could be construed in a unhealthy way by someone who hasn’t learned solid coping mechanisms yet. I would be careful about that.

Firstly, anger itself is an absolutely normal emotion and should not be suppressed whatsoever. Suppressing anger leads to internal harm and doesn’t do anyone any favors and can get very dangerous (think self harm).

However, a person has to learn HOW to express that anger, yelling/blaming/destruction/etc are obviously not helpful or healthy.

There’s a middle ground of learning that feeling angry about something is completely okay and expressing that you feel that way to someone is also completely okay. Using I feel statements are a really good start, using exercise and creative projects are also super helpful. Asking a friend if they are willing to listen to you vent for a moment is completely okay too. Do not try to suppress a normal, healthy emotion. It only leads to bad stuff.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
IMHO, anger (as someone who had anger issues in the past but never to clinical level), is an alert system of boundary being crossed. Anger is very much related to impulse control.

When I feel angry at my husband, let us say, my impulse is relatively shorter than when I am else where and I may speak before processing everything fully but if I cross his boundaries (which I have no right), I apologize and try to be less impulse to jump the gun so to speak. My impulse is relatively faster because I feel safe with him. The last statement is extremely important. In my marriage, I talk about my anger (which is not as much as it used to be for me anymore cause I am getting older, healthier and more mature), and I also I respond impulsively with humor whether sarcasm or good hearted to show my husband, hmmmm crossing a line (we talk about how we negotiate about anger and conflict a lot cause life is full of surprises so we teach other how we act when we feel cornered etc)...we have ways to lessen our anger and its ugly consequences...hence why my next step can work better for me.

Now if I get angry outside (unsafe environment) of my house or at work or walking my dog and running into crazy dog owners trying to attack my dog (it happened twice in the last couple months), my anger is much more controlled and I try to tap into the emotion being crossed that is alerting me my boundary is crossed or violated or my needs are not met. My impulse control is much slower because I am not in a safe environment that I know of. I have to weigh the situation fully before responding or taking the anger feelings (which I have to say it is important what it feels in the body so I know where I feel it).

Regardless of individual situations, adults are not children and should assess situations to ensure at minimum what is happening is reality not based on past fears and abuses or even ptsd (if one wants to be in relation with others). I think this is important. I am passionate about anger and hate cause these emotions get bad rap but they are useful emotions for safety and for survival. One reason I think honestly I never dated narcissistic people is because I am comfortable with my anger and can sense in others who are not good expressing their feelings unless they are blowing up. I learned from my mother but still I do hold others anger with patience and empathy cause a lot of times, it is truly easy to see when people are blowing up so unconsciously that is all they are at the moment: unconscious.
Unfortunately anger triggers anger in others and then it is everybody's game.
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
But I think that people with ptsd can sometimes exploit those opportunities to boil over with anger that isn't deserved

I'm sure that people probably sometimes do this on purpose, but in my experience, it's not intended to attack others but sort of just happens. Some don't even realize how they are responding or coming across to others. Certainly once they do, learning how to appropriately respond to feelings of anger is best.
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
anger itself is an absolutely normal emotion and should not be suppressed whatsoever
I totally agree with this, @Annalyn78. I thought that my post was saying what you're saying. My push back would be that if we think of anger as something that is fixed and boils over if not expressed, then we have to worry about "suppression." In my experience, I only felt that when I was in the habit of getting angry all the time. When I cultivated staying calm, I didn't feel the need to suppress because I had already become practiced in putting things in perspective and staying cool.

I have to say that I find it extremely difficult to keep my current anger, which is finite and solvable, and past anger which is big and overwhelming distinct. I'm not perfect, but I meditate very hard when I do get angry to try and keep clear as much as I can what the person who I'm currently angry at actually deserves. That person cannot be held responsible for the deep anger from time immemorial. If I get angry, I offer the person I'm angry at a way to resolve it, and then accept the resolution. If I have residual anger that is kicked up from my past, I go and meditate on it. I do not direct it at anyone.

Anger expressed in the right intellectual way can be very useful.in a controlled way.

I totally agree with this, @Survivor3 . Anger is the ultimate signal to us that we've been violated or hurt. The problem is that past, ptsd anger goes beyond that and instead of being a signal that can be useful in resolving a problem, it becomes a problem itself because it gets in the way of resolution and it is no longer useful for the adult person. I think the way to handle that deep, past anger is to heal. I don't think it's possible to heal by directing it an innocent bystander. Plus it inflicts additional pain.

My impulse is relatively faster because I feel safe with him.
I think this is important. I am passionate about anger and hate cause these emotions get bad rap but they are useful emotions for safety and for survival. One reason I think honestly I never dated narcissistic people is because I am comfortable with my anger and can sense in others who are not good expressing their feelings unless they are blowing up.
That's interesting, @grit. What I relate to is that when I was dating someone who was really narcissistic, he could never tolerate my anger. He would get angry and so every conflict was about assuaging his anger. I became quite triggered by him because his anger frightened me. But also, he made me feel as I did as a child - my feelings and needs were not important. Yet this is exactly what causes anger in c-ptsd folks! He had ptsd too. I realized that our pain and hurt from the past is real and needs to be supported. But it should not justify negating others' experience and inflicting hurt. And the one thing I disagree with is the idea that anger is purely impulse. My belief is that anger also has a cognitive dimension and is a response to a sense that one is violated. If you didn't think you were being violated, you wouldn't get angry. Research shows that if you have ptsd, you can come to believe that even a small child is agressing against you even when it isn't true. In fact, most abuse is perceived as "self-defense". I totally believe parents love their children universally, but our love for our children cannot heal or treat our distortions. Those will affect every relationship. So to me, anger is about perception, and not impulse, and indeed, research demonstrates that the most effective method for de-escalation is to change perspectives.

I'm sure that people probably sometimes do this on purpose, but in my experience, it's not intended to attack others but sort of just happens. Some don't even realize how they are responding or coming across to others. Certainly once they do, learning how to appropriately respond to feelings of anger is best.
@whiteraven, whether it's on purpose or not, anger still can have a very toxic affect. I used to become explosively angry. To be honest with you, I think I was borderline. I am so grateful that somehow I do think I healed enough to have become not borderline. Maybe? In any case, when I got angry, I felt such urgency that I was incensed if anyone would try to question or push back against my anger. I was like, why the hell would you try to correct me when I'm having a 911 event! But after practicing staying cool and healing over many years, I strongly feel that the urgency can be diminished and that it does not justify the pain inflicted to others. I told myself when my son was young that I had to do better than my best. I told myself that my best wasn't enough. Only what was best for my son period was enough.

I'm hell lot more destructive when sad, and not turning it inwards, than angry, for one.
I once heard someone say that sadness was anger turned inward. Do you agree?
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
whether it's on purpose or not, anger still can have a very toxic affect.

Oh, agree. My point was that sometimes people don't realize how angry they are or are coming across, but that once they do they can make a conscious effort to react differently.

I was like, why the hell would you try to correct me when I'm having a 911 event! But after practicing staying cool and healing over many years, I strongly feel that the urgency can be diminished and that it does not justify the pain inflicted to others.

Yes!
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
@PreciousChild I don't.

Sadness and anger are IME different emotions. Just their effects can be similar, on behavior, like from any (or none) emotions, is what I was saying.

That the same behavior can derive from any emotionality... not just one spectrum stereotyped for it.

It's not as simple as acting out, hence angry, is what I meant.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
Anger is not any more important than joy....both have real meaning for all of us. Whether they are impulse or perception or some other situational thing, the most important thing is I do not take them for granted thatI create or own the joy in my life but I enjoy it fully and I do not disown, suppress or hide my anger because I hate it....I take both as they come and use them as I need for that particular situation.
In my marriage, I am hardly as angry nearly as I am joyful but if I feel angry at my husband, I express it verbally...I do not do silence (I did in the past when I was younger), I do not do blaming and projection (something I grew out of it), I definitely do not do retaliation and revenge (something I thought much about it in the past)...what I do is I say that makes me angry. I am really angry that happened and find a solution or if there is no solution, take it as lesson learned, or accept it as it is a disappointment in life. I would go a step further and say...so far in my relationship with my husband of almost 7yrs, there is not one single emotion I have not experienced and felt safe to express them all in a safe and respectful manner. I prefer it that way. There is absolutely no reason to burn the house down for a feeling.

Did my childhood trauma impacted me greatly in my day to day? Yes in some ways but not all of the ways I am. But also this is where I believe cognition, some intelligence, some adulthood memory of recent past, and some experimenting and using imagination help. I do not take all my feelings as the gospel and always leave a room for interpretation, preferably with another person (cause I can come up many reasons alone in my head). This makes me more experimental, playful, and curious of my feelings and those of others close to me than stand in a spot of defense and expect others will treat me same way my mother did. I take time in between feelings and actions to ensure, I am cool headed (cause I know I can be hotheaded). Is this the best for everyone, I highly doubt it cause I do not know everybody's life but it works for me so far. Not sure if this makes sense but I thought I will add qualifiers to my earlier comment.

If a person tells me they have a marriage of any duration and never ever felt angry, I would ask them, ask your partner then...cause someone is carrying that anger in that relationship quietly! Anger is normal and sometimes right feeling that gets a lot of bad rap!
 

PreciousChild

MyPTSD Pro
@grit, it sounds like your approach is not too different from mine. As I said in my original post, I do think it's important to express our anger and address it. But as you suggest, it is a false dichotomy to believe that one either has to keep quiet or explode. For me, those are actually two sides of the same coin. Both will likely lead to not getting your needs met. In the first case because you don't say anything. In the second case because the explosive anger creates drama that actually distracts you from the original reasons why you were angry. My T and I believe that anger comes from hurt and not having needs met. We think it's important to express those vulnerable feelings, and how one's partner can address them. Getting angry can actually distract from that; it's actually easier to become aggressive rather than to feel exposed and vulnerable. I read an article recently about "how to maintain a good relationship", and the author recommended this very thing: express the hurt, not the anger. It's easier said than done because anger is a powerful emotion. But I think her point was to focus on getting what you need and try to avoid projecting the toxic anger that could potentially drive a wedge between you and those you love.
 
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