Growing up in a household where the sound of a raised voice wasn't out of the ordinary might have taught you some complex lessons about anger. Perhaps you learned to identify the subtle signs that an outburst was imminent, or maybe you became an expert at navigating the emotional minefields that littered your home. As a result, you might find yourself unusually attuned to the anger of others now that you're an adult.
But here's the thing: that hyper-awareness can sometimes leave you feeling defenceless when tempers flare around you. You might notice your heart rate spiking or your palms getting sweaty when someone else's voice rises, even if that anger isn't directed at you. It's like your body remembers the drill, bracing for impact even when there's no danger in sight.
Understanding Your Reactions
It's important to start by acknowledging that the intense reactions you have to anger stem from a place of learned behaviour. As a kid, if someone screamed at you, your brain went into overdrive to protect you. You might not have been able to control your environment, but your mind developed mechanisms to cope. As an adult, these mechanisms can turn into automatic reactions that aren't always helpful.
When you find yourself shutting down or panicking in the face of anger, it's often a sign that your brain is falling back on these old patterns. Recognizing this is powerful because once you see these reactions for what they are, you can start to change them. For instance, if you tend to shut down, you might become very quiet and feel frozen. On the other hand, if you're someone who blows up, you might feel an uncontrollable urge to yell back or argue.
Both reactions – shutting down or blowing up – are extremes, and they can prevent you from responding to situations in a way that's beneficial for you and those around you.
Practical Steps to Understanding and Changing Reactions
The Importance of Shadow Work
Shadowwork is a concept from psychology that refers to exploring the darker, unconscious parts of our personality that we often deny or ignore. When it comes to handling anger, this can be particularly important. If you shut down or blow up, these reactions are likely linked to the 'shadow' parts of yourself – those that were hurt in the past.
Engaging in shadow work means deeply diving into your past experiences and emotions. It's about understanding the roots of your reactions and how they connect to your present behaviour. By doing so, you can start to heal those wounds and react to anger in a way that's more in line with who you want to be.
How to Do Shadow Work
By understanding your reactions and engaging in shadow work, you're setting the stage for profound personal growth. It's not about never feeling fear or the urge to hide or yell. It's about knowing that you have the choice and the tools to handle these feelings differently.
Remember that each time you choose a calm response over shutting down or blowing up, you're building a new pattern of behaviour. It won't happen overnight, but with practice and patience, you'll find that you can stay composed and express yourself clearly, even in the face of someone else's anger.
You have the power to break the cycle of the past and create a new response pattern that serves you better. The journey from chaos to calm is about more than just managing anger – it's about reclaiming your ability to navigate your emotions with autonomy and resilience.
© Shamala Tan 2023
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have regarding the work that I do via email [email protected]
Shamala Tan is an author, spiritual entrepreneur, and healer. She strives to transform the lives of others on spiritual, emotional, mental, and earthly levels. Shamala's clients include small business owners, holistic practitioners, and individuals seeking greater meaning and value in life. She offers personalized laser coaching to clients in both individual and group settings, both online and offline.