Divorce: Stage 2 – Anger
By Robert Rudelic BS, NMT, MES
Do you often think other people create your anger? Is your anger conquering you and do you tell yourself your anger is justified?
an·ger – a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.
Anger is a key component of grieving because you are now beginning to realize that anger is fear, at its roots. It is simply one side of the fight or flight response. No matter which direction you choose to go, the underlying message of the brain is the same: You are in danger and your defenses must be mobilized. Reinterpreting anger as fear will allow you to get to the bottom of the issue faster instead of getting sidetracked in exhausting resentments which make you hostile, irritable and generally unpleasant to be around.
The anger stage is easily recognized. Anger may be directed at your partner, a third party, or even at yourself but it is not immediately apparent that this anger is actually part of the grieving process. Generally, grieving is associated with sadness but it’s a bit more complex than that.
The anger stage of grieving can also give you the strength and energy to face the logistical challenges that present themselves as a result of the separation. This may include becoming a single parent, a single breadwinner, continuing in essential routines connected to both roles, etc. However, while there was an initial survival benefit of this response, it is also important to recognize that the benefit wanes over time.
It might be better to think of anger as a state rather than a stage. A stage is often seen as a phase that leads to another phase or ultimately the end result. It would be better to see anger as a “state” during the grieving process where your immediate circumstances or conditions are such that anger might easily be the response. Anger is also a chemical (neuro-peptide) that creates the physical response you feel when you’re triggered and you can become addicted to it. You see examples of this all the time in people who always seem angry or upset about something or are “hot tempered”. Their addiction causes them to constantly look for reasons to be angry so they can experience that chemical release in the brain to feed their addiction.
Some of the positive effects of anger include:
- In the short-term, anger can help resolve disputes when combined with a proactive approach to work toward a solution
- In the short-term, a clear expression of anger is seen as powerful and can prepare you for action
- In the short-term, anger puts you in touch with your point of view and creates clarity around what you need and want
The damaging effects of long-term anger:
Scientists report that the impact of anger on the body is profound, whether it is expressed or suppressed. Angry people often have a more reactive sympathetic nervous system than do others. Their bodies tend to produce abnormally high levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol whenever they feel someone is critical of them or things are not going their way. Those hormones can stimulate a wide spectrum of effects such as, high blood pressure and the increased risk of a stroke, insomnia, supressed thyroid function, decreases bone density, as well as shuts down your ability to think clearly, problem solve and be decisive.
Some angry individuals also have an underactive parasympathetic nervous system that fails to produce the common hormone acetylcholine, which normally turns off the harsh effects of adrenaline leaving you feeling exhusted and in a state of overwhelm.
Over time, too much adrenaline and too little acetylcholine can lead to a host of problems: The arteries grow stiffer and the heart weakens; the liver and kidneys are damaged; and too much fat is released into the bloodstream, raising cholesterol.
Scientists say the more a person is habitually angry, the more the body will pump out damaging stress hormones, but recognizing irrational anger at the outset and having the right tools to cope with it, you’ll be able to block the cascade of stress hormones before it tumbles out of control.
Anger is a state and it’s also a chemical that you can get addicted to just like cocaine or heroin. It’s vitally important to have high impact tools to get you out of the state of anger as fast as possible because you can quickly become addicted to being angry. If you linger in anger for too long, over time your personality will change and this can lead to being a bitter, angry, cynical person nobody wants to be around.
Just recognizing when your angry is not enough to short circuit your state of mind because the bomb already went off, you lost composure and the damage is done.
Knowing what makes you angry can be helpful but only if you have the tools to greatly reduce the intensity of your reaction when you get triggered, and better yet, change your response to the trigger before it happens. Giving you more emotional composure and helping you become emotionally resilient is what I want for you.
This is an easy exercise I teach as part of my Invincible Divorcee program that will do just that.
I hope you’ve already started a journal as I suggested in the first blog article on Denial, if not start now!
1 – List all the things that make you angry or trigger you right now about the break up, nothing is too small.
2 – Prioritize them based on which ones come up most often then…
3 – Close your eyes and visualize a situation where the 1st one comes up a lot. Run it in your mind like a short movie and observe how your anger is triggered and how your anger is intensified. Really focus on your behavior, how you react and how your responses cause it to play out.
4 – Make notes on where you could change your approach or your verbal comebacks so you can stay in control and keep the situation from intensifying. Be creative; write all of your ideas down before judging them.
5 – Then replay the movie with the changes you’ve come up with. Repeat the process until you physically and mentally feel composed while you’re going through the visualization and feel satisfied with the outcome.
Keep in mind when you visualize you’re rehearsing and it’s as real as if you’re really there. Athletes practice visualization all of the time and the ones who do it the most are the most successful.
Be patient with yourself, getting control of your anger takes time and practice. Rehearsing gives you the time needed to think through how you want to present yourself before things get heated and your brain shuts off. This will lower your risk of losing your composure.
Release the self-destructive feeling of anger-
Next, go to the third blog post in the series – Divorce: Stage 3 – Bargaining
If You Want to Learn How to –
- Own emotional composure
- Eliminate self-sabotaging beliefs
- Have an unshakable “Yes I Can Attitude”
- Bravely stand up for yourself, think ahead, and make decisions with clarity and confidence
My Program is an experiential training that pays off immediately by teaching you how to quickly change your mindset putting you in full control. You’ll learn how to replace the old beliefs with new beliefs and lock them in permanently, be inspired, and own emotional composure. The results are life-changing!
For more information, visit our PowerTapping page.