Why might some people reap benefits from their anger?
Using Anger to Hide your Pain:
A fourth “Anger payoff” is this strong feeling cant hide emotional pain. Anger becomes a convenient Band-Aid to cover up uncomfortable feelings like fear, loss, guilt, shame, embarrassment, hurt, and feelings of rejection or failure. Anger is a way to put a tight lid on painful emotions. It is such a strong emotion that it can drown out our other painful feelings. We eventually learn to become unaware of our other feelings and concentrate on our rage. Many people with anger problems grew up in dysfunctional families. We may have watched Dad push away his shame with rage. Maybe, Mom coped with her depression (or frustration at Dad or life) by yelling at the kids. If we can just get mad enough, we learn that we can stop, numb or control virtually any other painful feeling. Thus, anger prevents us from feeling our other emotions.
The downside to having Anger override your other Emotions:
But again there is a down-side to this payoff. The short-term payoff has long-term consequences. First of all, you don’t let yourself experience feelings that may be important signals to things that are going on in your life. Emotions offer guidance for what you need to fix in your life. You will need to relearn how to pay attention and recognize your other feelings. There may be a good reason why you feel guilt, fear, hurt or embarrassment. Once you acknowledge the feeling, you become empowered to do something to repair or change the situation so that you engage in a healthier lifestyle. When you take responsibility for your feelings, it allows you to make key changes in your life. You can consciously choose healthy solutions.
Another problem with using anger to defend against your feelings is that these unacknowledged feelings tend to grow. For example, you’re not only feeling guilty for some past failure; now you feel guilty for the new damage your anger has done. Another example is your depression worsens because your anger is turning people off and isolating you. Using anger to cover other feelings becomes a Catch 22. You find you have to rev up your anger even more to block these higher levels of other painful feelings. Until you acknowledge and deal with ALL of your feelings in a healthy way, this process will continue over and over again until you find that your anger has committed serious damage to your life and relationships.
Anger as a Defense can become a Habit:
The fifth problem with using anger as a defense is that it becomes habitual. Your anger becomes a quick reflex that can go off at the slightest criticism or hurt. Let’s give you another example of how this works. Let’s say you are having trouble paying your bills and it makes you feel frustrated and anxious. It’s a lot easier to blow up because your partner paid $80 for a Kindle than to feel uncertainty about your finances. So instead of acknowledging the budget problems and coming up with healthy solutions, you just get angry.
Yelling gets Attention:
Another Anger payoff is that yelling gets the attention of others around you. Sometimes it feels that no one will listen to you unless you are screaming. Anger does grab people’s attention. Yelling can alarm others and often they will try to placate you. This immediate payoff will eventually have long-term negative outcomes. There will be people who yell back, get defensive or tune you out. You begin to get a reputation as someone to avoid, a bully or just plain mean. People may even cut off their relationship with you. Once again this strategy may make some people temporarily sit up and listen but eventually they will get turned off and run.
To learn more about Anger Payoffs that may be motivating you to continue to use your anger, read “How to Learn Anger Management in 15 Easy Steps” Part 7 C. If you want to change your negative anger habits but are having trouble doing this; a competent professional counselor can be helpful. An easy way to accomplish this is by booking a conversation with Vicki at www.supportivetalk.com or read the rest of my 15 part series.
If book-lovers would like to read books on this subject, check out “Beyond Anger” by Thomas J. Harbin or “Anger Management for Everyone” by Raymond Chip Tafrate and Howard Kassinove.