Counselor's Corner: Addiction to Anger

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By Fred Cavaiani

Anger is a superficial emotion. It is always a reaction to a deeper feeling.  Anger blocks us from experiencing our own vulnerability.  Whenever I get angry,  it is because there are deeper feelings that I don’t want to experience.  The feeling of being emotionally wounded, feeling alone, experiencing criticism and rejection from others, feeling helpless and powerless about something: these are normal feelings that I must allow myself to experience. If I don’t allow this to happen, I will not go deeper within myself where I can discover an experience of God.  In my brokenness I become open to experiencing the power of love and compassion. When I let myself feel my wounds, I start healing. I also deepen my emotional and spiritual journey with God.

People who use alcohol or drugs to numb their pain lead superficial and lonely lives. A person who numbs their emotional pain is trying to find a way out of experiencing pain.  Once the addiction takes over there is no help unless a person has total abstinence and hopefully enters a 12 Step Program like Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous.

The inappropriate use of alcohol, drugs or food stifle a person.  Addictions stop us from internal freedom. They stop us from feeling genuine peace and joy.

I must experience my pains and fears in order to go forward.  If I don’t experience my emotional pain, I will not be open to personal growth. I will not be open to having a connected relationship with other people. I will not be open to discovering a loving God in my life. The happiest people can open up to their own brokenness. Miserable people stay tranquilized away from going deeper.

Anger gives a person an adrenaline rush that becomes addictive.  It covers up creative energy. It covers up the power of compassion and love. It is a fallacy to believe that anger can realistically motivate people to make positive changes.  With social media so prevalent today, we see anger expressed in many areas of life.  It can become an addiction for many. To watch a politician be angry can set off an adrenaline rush in that person’s followers and also in those who do not like what this politician is shouting out. Anger is a reaction to the deeper feelings of disappointment, fear, sadness, loss, insecurity and just plain pain.  Anger will block these feelings and give a person a false sense of righteousness and superiority.

We live in a society of addiction to anger.  It you watch the news channels, such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX NEWS, you will experience anger.  It is an addictive product that stimulates people. And we don’t realize this. Anger is addictive. It puts us into an emotional prison. It causes us to be authoritative and insensitive to others.  It is an insidious virus that stops our emotional and spiritual growth.  It can devastate a whole society and a whole world.

Angry people do not change the world. Angry people burn out, withdraw and blame others for their anger.  Anger deprives us of positive energy to make positive changes.

Whenever I embrace anger, I making a bad investment because I am covering feelings that need to be experienced. Anger is like a drug that gives us a false sense of security and takes us away from the creative energy inside of us.  Anger stops us from revealing to others the pain inside of us. It stops us from revealing to ourselves the pain inside of us.

Anger addictively motivates us to find other people that we can be angry with and unite together in anger against the world.  Anger causes wars. Anger makes enemies. Anger breaks ups marriages and families. 
The addiction to this secondary emotion gives us an artificial high which is damaging to our bodies and to our mind and heart.

Each of us will find anger possessing us at times.  It is important to immediately realize that there is something beneath the anger that we need to experience and share with ourselves and then with others.  So many groups use anger to avoid growing emotionally and personally.

Television and movies often portray anger as a virtue rather than a liability.

We can calmly stand up for what is good and compassionate. We can firmly march for Civil Rights. We can promote Black Lives Matter. We can promote respect for the Police, First Responders, Doctors Nurses, Teachers, etc.   But becoming angry and investing in anger helps no one. In fact, it becomes damaging to others. It also becomes damaging to myself.

Healing starts with feeling our wounds and pains. When I do this, I can use the positive energy within me to go forward with love and compassion which I will have learned from embracing the pain I need to feel.
The greatest reformers were not women and men of anger. They were women and men of care and compassion for all.  When they spoke, they touched the hearts of all.

People in all walks of life want to use the term, “Justifiable Anger” for how some people might talk and act. What is justifiable is the expression of how much pain we feel. It is healthy to share my pain and hurt with others. It is good to open up to my emotional wounds and share this with others.  But if I speak in an angry tone to others, it helps no one.  If I march for justice which is important to do, but I shout out words of anger and criticism, that really doesn’t motivate people.

When people connect through anger, it is a superficial and unholy connection.  But if I connect with others through sharing pain in a caring and compassionate manner, we all become stronger to do the necessary actions for a positive change in the world.

We all easily become addicted to anger.  But when we do this, we become more of the problem than the solution.

I must consistently challenge myself when I am feeling angry and realize that I must go deeper within myself.  In this embrace of my feelings, which lie underneath my anger, I will begin to find the strength to make the necessary changes to lead a more caring and compassionate life.  I will then connect with God deeper and I will connect with others in a more positive manner.

Anger is not a good investment. But investment in experiencing my own emotional wounds will give me the positive strength to touch the hearts of others in a positive manner. Angry feelings that are not dealt with will begin to surface throughout my life. But I do not have to invest or hang on to these feelings.  God, relieve me from the bondage of selfishness and the bondage of anger.

I must turn away from this social addiction of anger and promote the healthy response of love and compassion and express my own pain and brokenness in a positive, loving manner. It is better that you see my tears but not my words of anger and condemnation and criticism. 



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