According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba                                        Masks of Anger: The Fears ...
According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba                                   www.monchobi.comThere is a strong relationship between an...
According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba                                    www.monchobi.comadequate experience of feeling vulnerabl...
According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba                                    www.monchobi.comask them to express their emotions with ...
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Masks of anger the fears that your anger may be hiding


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Masks of anger the fears that your anger may be hiding

  1. 1. According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba Masks of Anger: The Fears That Your Anger May Be HidingAnger is perhaps the one human emotion that we cannot wrap our minds aroundcompletely. Since anger is an emotion that is vital to survival, you would think that wewould have learned how to express it constructively by now. But, we still treat it like aforeign military invasion and an irregularity of behavior that has no place in our daily lives.But, anger does have a place in our lives and in our coping repertoire. Even if you try, youcan’t deny or suppress this powerful emotion for long, as it is wired into you as a responseto threat. And, anger is unbiased. It favors no person, culture, race, education or socialstatus. Because anger is an emotion that is necessary to your protection and safety andaffirmation of identity. Anger is here to stay, as long as we have a reason to defendourselves.But, indeed, some people feel a greater pressure to defend themselves than others, becausethey are so emotionally invested in a belief or way of being. Take for example, the Illinoislawmaker’s recent anger outburst. “Screaming, swearing, throwing papers on the floor, andasking Democrat lawmakers to set his people (Republican) free, a red-faced Illinois Rep.Mike Bost “lambasted” the state’s powerful House speaker for messing around with thestate’s pension plan.” (Huffington Post: Mike Bost Meltdown). If any of you saw this rant,I’d say that lambasted doesn’t quite sum up Bost’s emotional unhinging. It was more like hepopped a cork, blew out a few veins, and temporarily went berserk. No matter howjustified one’s anger is—in the end, anger hurts the body, mind, and public image of theinitiator more than it does the receiver.Thus, you have to learn how to express anger constructively. But, first, you have to knowwhat your anger is really all about, what it may be hiding. Your anger may mask fears andvulnerabilities that are hitching a ride on events slightly related, if at all to the ax of angerthat you really wish to grind. Take for example, Sharon, a 29-year old sales representative.Like many people, she carried her personal issues to work each day as faithfully as she didher cell phone. Sharon believed her parents admired, loved, and valued her younger siblingmore than her. She let this issue hitch a ride on every stressful event that took place atwork. Everyone was treating her unfairly and with disrespect, according to her. Even whenthings had nothing to do with Sharon, she was apt to feel slighted and angry about it. Thistook a toll on her work team and her public image. She became known as fragile and easilyangered, and as you can guess, she was passed up time and again for promotions.Thus, if you really want to manage your anger, you have to know what it may be hiding, soyou keep it from getting expressed at the wrong place and time. This is what my post isabout today.What Is Anger All About?
  2. 2. According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba www.monchobi.comThere is a strong relationship between anger and fear. Anger is the fight part of the age-oldfight-or-flight response to threat. Most animals respond to threat by either fighting orfleeing. But, we don’t always have the option to fight what threatens us. Instead, we haveanger. Words are the civilized way that we get to fight threat. And, some words, as youknow, are meant to sting as deeply as a stab wound. Anger is one of the ways that we helpour body to prepare for potential danger. Anger stimulates adrenaline to rouse the brainand body to fight or flee a threatening situation. Of course, in more primitive days, thethings that angered us centered solely on threats to our survival (a basic need for food,shelter, water, or land). Today, we are civilized; we’ve formed identities of preferences andvalues of living that make us complex and psychologically defensive. Assaults to yourprinciples, beliefs, and needs and wishes are the basis for your anger, now. And, you willprotect your identity as strongly as if you were defending your right to food, shelter, wateror land.Oh, we human beings do weave a tangled web, because of our defensive nature. We learn toconceal our fears from others and to protect ourselves from feeling weak, ashamed, andembarrassed. We are so good at this that sometimes, we even deceive ourselves as to whatis provoking us.Thus, what we say is the reason for our anger may not actually be true. In some ways, cavemen had it easier. They knew what they were fighting over. But, you may not know why acoworker, lover, family member or friend is angry with you~ or you with them. Because: “Behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motivations and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication.” ~ Abraham Maslow quotes (American Philosopher and Psychologists, 1908-1970).Hence, you can attribute your anger to something outside of you, rather than to your fearsand vulnerabilities. Then, your denial, justification, or lie becomes a mask for what is reallybothering you. But, there are still signs in the behavior that say: there’s something elsegoing on here. Perhaps, the intensity of the anger doesn’t justify the situation? Or, forexample, you may confront the angry person, as to the reason(s) for his anger, but youwon’t get a straight answer, even if you do get an apology. You may think he is beingdifficult. But, really, he’s protecting himself from the shame and embarrassment of beingexposed, as if you are a thief trying to rob him of his last dollar.Protecting one’s Achilles’ heel is a life-and-death matter to the angered person. Seasonedtherapists understand well what fear means to their patients. They never take theirpatients’ defenses away and expose their fears prematurely, without first giving them
  3. 3. According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba www.monchobi.comadequate experience of feeling vulnerable in front of them. If therapists do not do this well,they better be ready to get some pretty hefty anger directed their ways.Six Fears or Vulnerabilities That Anger Can MaskKnow the truth, and it will set you free. This is certainly true of anger. Know the fears thatyour anger may be defending against, so that you can learn to get ahead of it. Let’s startnow.Mask One: Anger can be a mask to cover up hurt. To some people, it’s less threatening toshow anger than to show that they are hurt. Hurt means they are weak, ineffective, and outof control. This can be hard on intimate relating, because hurt always turns into an angryargument. Feeling ignored, devalued, underestimated, and unlovable are core hurts thatstem from our childhood, but can reappear in the relationships that we have today. Whenour self-esteem is endangered through criticism or rejection, it revives self-doubts. If yousee yourself here, you have to work on loving yourself more, so that people and situationsdo not rock how you feel about yourself. If you feel deficient in some way, you mayunconsciously look for situations to express this deficiency as anger toward others, thatends up hurting you and loved ones.Mask Two: Anger can be a mask to self-soothe inner tension. Some people get angry torelieve themselves of inner tension. These persons’ nervous systems make them especiallysensitive to threat, real or imagined, so that they live with a high level of inner discomfort.For them, anger is a psychological salve, especially if they are prone to violence. Theexcitatory nerve chemical, norepinephrine, gets secreted during the arousal of the anger,which acts as an analgesic for inner tension. That’s why the release of anger can make usfeel better, at least temporarily. Internal anger and upset activates the release ofnorepinephrine that simultaneously numbs physical discomfort. This mask of anger is veryharmful to relationships, but nonetheless crucial in enabling many vulnerable people toemotionally survive in them. Hopefully, this is only until they learn better copingmechanisms or get medically treated for this problem.Mask Three: Anger can be a mask for fears of emotional intimacy. Strangely enough, angeris the safest way for some people to attach to others, especially with regard romanticinvolvement. People who have difficulty asserting and negotiating their wants and needsoften feel unsafe relating to their romantic partners. They are particularly vulnerable tousing anger as their main expression of relating. Truly, it’s fascinating to observe coupleswho primarily relate to each other through anger. In therapy, just when the arguing stopsand communication begins, one or both partners move toward anger, once again. It’s allthat they know. No one has ever taught them how to express anger constructively, or evenmore importantly, how to express more intimate, loving feelings. Getting angry is a waythey know that they are attached. When I address what their anger is really all about and
  4. 4. According Dr. Deborah Khoshaba www.monchobi.comask them to express their emotions with “I need and want…”, they feel silly. They verbalize,perhaps for the first time, how uncomfortable intimate dialogue makes them. Intimaterelating makes them feel especially vulnerable to relationships in which they feel easilycontrolled by others, and having to negotiate needs and wants with their lover makes themfeel weak and vulnerable.Mask Four: Anger can be a smokescreen for self-consciousness. I recall a time when myeldest sister was reading to a group of children that included my brother, at the locallibrary. She began by asking the children their names. When she asked my 6-year oldbrother what his name was, he became so self-conscious that he jumped up and startedhitting her. Her question surprised him and made him feel self-conscious. Some peoplenever learn how to deal with their self-conscious feelings without feeling angry. Do youknow people who always get irritated in a work meeting or to have to ask confrontationalquestions? Some of them may actually be combative or oppositional characters. But, someare really just more self-conscious.Mask Five: Anger can be a mask for self-empowerment, for people who are unassertive. Ifyou find yourself here, you need to learn how to express your needs comfortably andassertively, so they do not explode in an untimely and unhealthy way.Mask Six: Anger can also be a mask for sadness and grief. Did you ever disclose somethingpainful to a parent, and have him or her yell rather than empathize with you? Hopefully,you realized over time that it was his or her way of dealing with sadness and grief. Angerhelps them to feel they can go to battle for you and help you to do battle for yourself, if needbe. Unfortunately, what they don’t realize is that all you really needed was a kind word anda hug. ……………….The more comfortable you get with your fears, the less apt you will be to express themthrough anger. Many people respond to fear with anger, because human beings don’t likebeing exposed or open to being harmed and shamed. You’ll have healthier more satisfyingrelationships, if you start working on these fears today.There’s nothing more I enjoy than helping you to understand your inner workings and tohelp you to live the best life possible. If you like my post today, please let me know, byselecting the Like icon that immediately follows. I welcome your comments and thoughts.Warm regards to you, Deborah.