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Displaced anger

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Ewok2, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. Ewok2

    Ewok2 Peer Supporter

    I find myself angry at little or irrational things all the time. A lot of it is aimed/felt towards my husband. Little things like not putting a dish in the sink or being late or just looking at me the wrong way!

    Or I’m angry at the dog while I’m vacuuming for the third time in a week due to all the fur.

    The other night I was in a lot of pain and just wanted to go to bed but I still had to iron school uniforms and make the lunchboxes and I was just fuming as I ironed at people who had the money to be able to afford to see TMS therapists. Totally unrelated.

    How do I tell what is displaced anger vs real (accurately aimed) anger?

    How do I tell what displaced anger is really about?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Ewok2,

    In my experience it is important to allow the angry feelings, without judgement. You may not know the deeper sources (or experiences), but the practice of allowing, and feeling anger in your body, as well as your inquiry "what is this about?" lead you to more authenticity and information in time. I am sorry you are so angry, and I get why also!

    I am saying that you don't know what is real or displaced, but you are on your way to understanding. And dividing anger into these categories may matter less than feeling anger moment-to-moment.

    You might also notice superego (Inner Critic) activity with the anger. Is it truly all right to feel the resentment, or does it make you wrong?

    In working with TMS/Dr. Sarno's understanding, any time you feel anger, you can connect this to your symptoms, perhaps with the understanding that your anger is an indication of powerless rage down deep which does not want to be felt. Or, it may help you contemplate the inner tension between what you think you should be vs how part of you feels about this. You have an indication of a "war going on" underneath, which is psychological tension. This means you know right there the source of your symptoms, and you need do little more than connect your symptoms to their true source, and this process undoes them. Also, authenticity with yourself and others about your anger, without blaming yourself or others may help symptoms. Authenticity relieves the conflicts.

    Finally, if there is superego activity with the anger, this can be contemplated as another source of inner tension: the angry part in tension with the part of you who feels anger is wrong.

    Andy B
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2018
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  3. Ewok2

    Ewok2 Peer Supporter

    Thanks Andy. I guess it is inportant to just feel, acknowledge and accept the anger, regardless of its source.
  4. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Boy, can my past self relate to this thread. I spent years...years!...feeling moithered until a series of unfortunate incidents (;)) led me to see that I was not experiencing anger but resentment.

    How ignoble.

    But there it is. I resented all the shit I had to do, day in and day out. It was a circle of hell. Naturally it was everyone else's fault.

    I kept remembering how Dr. Schubiner explained that selfish people didn't suffer pain. Oh to be selfish!

    I got locked in that mindgames for a long, long, pointless time. And then over a period of a couple of months I saw this dynamic play out in my sisters-in-law over the care for their elderly housebound mum and I recognised the fizzing anger and frustration, the caustic resentment, the uptight and profoundly unpleasant and unnecessary emotional vibe of the whole thing. And then I saw this poor bewildered old lady effectively being emotionally mauled in the name of care and looking after and I was sickened to my core.

    I saw my shadow self mirrored back to me and in that moment something clicked. My anger exploded into compassion and has burned brightly ever since.

    Sure I still get angry sometimes but I check myself: am I provoking myself into self-justified, ranty, rationalisations of blame? Every time the answer is yes. And so I don't go into it. I don't indulge in those emotions.

    Sarno never ever intended for us to stomp around the place in a state of pent-up fury. This is not the opposite of repressed rage although it is a pretty good masquerade of displaced anger.

    See it for what it is.
    Ensure you build up oodles of self-time into your day.
    Stop doing stuff that doesn't need doing (aka. Perfectionism)
    Slack off a bit.

    Your people derive more benefit from your tender loving care and emotional openness and availability than having everything spick and span.

    You derive great benefits too.

    And you heal.

    What's not to love about that?

    Plum x
  5. Ewok2

    Ewok2 Peer Supporter

    @plum thank you so much for your lovely reply :)

    I don’t understand the difference between resentment and anger? I kind of though they were the same thing, with resentment just being longer-held anger? Is that not right? I’ll look into that.

    Stop doing stuff that doesn’t need doing... that is exellent advice. I was tidying the toys after the children were in bed and I realised if I did this twice a week instead of daily, it would really make no difference and no one would even notice and then I could have a bath or something for me.

    When you say you don’t indulge in those emotions, do you mean that you’ve changed your perspection/way of thinking so you don’t generate those emotions? I get confused what is emotional avoidance/repression and genuinely not generating the emotions, and how to authentically do that.

    I was reading about displaced anger earlier and someone said it comes from a feeling of powerlessness, which makes sense. When you’re in chronic pain, you feel very powerless.

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  6. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    We're really getting into the nuances of emotion here (which is a good thing) and I find this tool really helps:

    http://feelingswheel.com (Feelings Wheel)

    (I have tried to upload the image but I'm on my smartphone and it's a no go).

    Resentment is a shade of anger. For me it comes from feeling burdened and overwhelmed by having to do things I don't want to do, especially when it's at the expense of what I do want to do. This is why the trade off of doing less of what I don't want and more of what I do really helps.

    It also makes it much easier to be generous with my time instead of feeling obligated. Obligation and duty are big resentment generators too.

    I mean that I feel the emotion surge in my body but I seperate this from the mental chatter that comes in its wake. This is an excellent skill to develop especially if you combine it with cognitive soothing as mentioned in Alan Gordon's program.

    It looks a bit like this. You walk into the room and it's strewn with stuff (toys, dogs, empty plates, whatever) and you feel your body tighten and recoil. Maybe your jaw and fists clench, or your back spasms, or your pelvic muscles boing out of place. You feel hot and bothered. And then the little voice in your heads goes...

    For f**** sake. I tidied this up an hour ago. I'm sick of being a drudge. Why doesn't someone look after me for a change. I hate my f****** life. Goddam it my arse hurts. I'm sick of being in pain....

    I put the brakes on after the f**** sake. I allow myself that. Then I start the soothing talk.

    It's ok. Just a bit of clutter. I'll take it into the kitchen. Hmm, my jaw us a bit tense...relax baby, it's ok. Take a moment. Let's stand on the balcony and get some fresh air. Oh look, the daffodil shoots are coming through. Spring is coming! God how I love the Spring.

    And I keep doing this over and over and over and after a while momentum builds and it becomes much easier.

    I also throw in a few affirmations.

    My home is my sanctuary.
    I love the peaceful feeling of a mostly tidy house.
    My home is lived in, not a show home and that feels good to me.

    That kinda stuff. It is a bit fake it till you make it but how else do we learn?

    Remember those toys live in magical, imaginary worlds. Let them have their lives awhile. It's sweet really.

    Then you get to have that blissful time (love long baths) where you not only recharge your batteries but build energy that nourishes you and everyone around you.

    This is why I go swimming twice a week. Knowing that at some point I will back in blue waters relishing some me-time serves as a great touchstone. One of my cognitive soothers is 'back at the pool in two days...think I'll have a sauna next time...wonder if that cute guy will be there..." ;)

    Does this help?

    Plum x
  7. Ewok2

    Ewok2 Peer Supporter

    It does xx
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  8. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Just heard on the radio that this was voted best song to do the housework to.

    Hell yes :)

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  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Plum and Ewok2,
    I am enjoying your discussion.

    Plum, I have this song bookmarked and put it on a dance set. It is so campy and yet has so much heart!!! And so intensely expressed with that voice. Neat that you put it here.

    I think you point to something really important. The sense of powerlessness and pressure is self-generated. By examining this closely you can see that we want to maintain self-images which kept us in the love of our parents when we were young: being organized, adult, smart enough, not rejectable... in all our particular flavors.

    And it is this way that we feel victims of the world. "Powerless" is mostly done to ourselves by acting out old patterns. The powerlessness is the powerlessness of one part of me in relationship to another part of me. The sense of powerlessness is real and palpable, but we are full co-creators of this internal feeling. And we maintain it out of habit, familiar somatic experiences, maintaining self-images, and fear of "breaking free." Ultimately breaking free means Mommy won't be there. This is not for the faint of heart. And breaking free is a practice, not an end state, in my experience.

    And I see this dynamic related to both our self-identities and the work of TMS, as you all suggest. TMS results partly because we're caught in our identities and don't connect this with symptoms. TMS work reveals more of what we want and don't want, and who we really are: inner and outer boundaries.

    May we all understand how we bind ourselves ---and forgive ourselves, and thus find more natural joy in this magical world!

    Andy B
  10. plum

    plum Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for raising the issue self-identity. How many of us lose ourselves? How much a part of the genesis and endurance of TMS does it play?

    This was a big thing for me for a while because my mum had been her mum's carer since her early 20's. Later in life my grandmother came to live with us and I saw the 'carer' dynamic up close and personal. I swore I'd never become a carer. I guess Life had other plans.

    I'm at peace with it now but looking back I really feel for myself. The various caring roles, be they parenthood or the kind of care I give, are still in many ways very undervalued and taken for granted. I sometimes feel as though I have donned an invisibility cloak, in a strange version of what the eyes don't see the heart can't grieve over. It suits other people not to notice the work we do. Little wonder that the tensions build and a lot of darker emotions come out to play.

    And so it really is important to take the time I mentioned earlier, just for yourself. It is more than simple physical and emotional replenishment, it is also a way back to yourself when you are lost in responsibility, resentment and rage. Your identity helps keep your head above water. (The same is even more true for the cared for. Helping them remember who they are, helping them not to drown in the illness or what-have-you is vital).

    There is so much on the edges of identity that is germane to TMS. This is especially true as we disentangle our people-pleasing tendencies and look upon the threads anew. Selflessness. Selfishness. Love - conditional and unconditional. Abandonment. Nurturing. Generosity. Compassion. Trust. Forgiveness.

    I appreciate you adding this dimension to the discussion @AndyB. (Oh yes, and regarding the song, I truly realised how powerful it is at a biodanza class. Many moons ago I did a lot of biodanza. Good times).
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  11. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Yes. How do we practice when things are difficult, when we're thrown off? That is where the real practice happens!
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  12. fern

    fern Well known member

    This thread is absolutely life-giving. I want to read it every morning. I have much more to say later, when I have time to write. But for now, thank you to every single person who posted on here for giving me so many jewels and treasures of thought to gaze upon and ponder for days! The collective wisdom of this group feels like a miracle sometimes. <3
  13. fern

    fern Well known member

    OK, I could say something about almost every post on this rich thread, but there's this bit from Andy B that feels like the fulcrum of the whole discussion:

    This is such a brilliant insight, which is funny, because it calls to mind such a classic, familiar trope. I've heard so many adult women with dead mothers shake their heads with pursed lips and say about some perceived personal f* up, "What would my mother think?" (My dad has a version of this with his father, too, so I know men do the same thing in their own way.) Everything from a messy kitchen to a parenting snafu to a choice of career or neighborhood. When I first heard this as an actively differentiating teenager, I thought it was ridiculous. I was sure I would never say it. It seemed like such an unnecessary thing to put on oneself, such a transparent and avoidable source of pressure. At the time, of course, I didn't understand the motivation behind honoring one's elders and trying to respect the values and effort it took to make life possible for their children. As a mother now, I do - but I still shake my head when my mom purses her lips disapprovingly and utters that phrase about a messy kitchen or unmade bed or even something a little more impactful like saying no to a volunteer need at church, "What would my mother think if she knew I ________?" Surely there's some sort of healthy way to honor one's parents' values (the ones that are worth honoring, that is) without self-imposing a stern voice of parental disapproval at every little deviation from their ideal.

    What I hadn't connected to my own insidious version of this (my mom is still alive, so things like, "Geez, what if my mom surprised me by stopping by today while the house looks like this?" or "What will my dad say when I tell him I'm thinking about this lower-paying career change?") is that it's not just a self-imposed and superfluous self-criticism that a person does because they want to feel bad about themselves (which is how it appeared to me when I was younger). It may be, as Andy B says, a fear of breaking free from the boundaries set by one's parents, the limiting and anxious image of safety and acceptability that they created for us even with the best of intentions. Essentially leaving the philosophical backyard and entering uncharted territory with only the promise of their unconditional love (and that of others) outside of the safe fence of their ideals for us and instructions for how to be acceptable in this world. In my case my parents were/are loving, supportive, proud, and unconditional about all these things. But they are also anxious and afraid, too. And there are plenty of folks whose parents were none of those warm unconditional things. But even (or maybe especially) then, there is a safety to making oneself acceptable. And to disapproving of ourselves with pursed lips when things are not acceptable that way, using anger with ourselves or anger at others and their standards (whether real or perceived) or their lack of concern for the hard work we're trying to do to remain acceptable as a way to mask the fear of being not good enough.

    Perfectionism applies here, too, which is why this thread and the one with that article about perfectionism fit like perfect dovetails in my reading.

    To what degree does my own thriving and authentic experience of this gift of life depend on me choosing the parental values to gently honor in gratitude and tossing out the parental values/anxieties that built the fence that kept me safe and acceptable? To what degree does not tearing this fence down contribute to my own simmering, quiet anger, in imaginary conversations with my parents, sometimes real conversations with my husband, and sometimes toward my daughter who is too young to help it when she won't give me a moment's peace? To what degree have I allowed myself to know what I want outside of what is "acceptable?" To what degree am I adding fetters and ties that don't need to be there, piling them up unnecessarily on the ones that are necessary and giving myself a lot more to be accountable for than one person should have to shoulder? I feel trapped a lot. What if it's not the house or the motherhood or the parental opinions or the societal expectations that are trapping me, but my own self pursing my lips and saying in hidden fear of rejection masked as simmering, contracted anger a phrase I vowed never to say and thought I never did: "What would my mother think?"

    What's crazy is that I didn't even know I did all of this, even though I did know. When people say they don't think repression is real, this is the kind of experience I think of. There are things I know and see all the time, in this world and inside my own head, that I push out in the space of a single frame, as quickly as they came in, off to the side where I can't see them well enough to process them. I've been in a caring profession long enough to know that we all do this. And I'm still amazed every time I peel back some layer of understanding long enough to see something I've actually been able to see for a long time.

    Thank you for your insight, everyone! And for your insightful questions, Ewok2, which spoke directly to the heart of my own daily life.
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  14. fern

    fern Well known member

    There must be something to Andy B's comments above, or at least whatever I extracted out of them, whether I read them right or not. Ever since I wrote that last post, I've found myself to be more relaxed, less physically and emotionally contracted, and much less anxious. Every time I make a "tsk" sound in my head, whether about a mess, or a bitter feeling of doing "invisible" work that isn't appreciated, or something I wish I could change about myself, I have been pausing to check whose voice is speaking in my head, and who I am trying to impress. It has opened up this field of clear awareness and has introduced me more clearly to what I actually want and don't want. It has even gotten me in touch with my parents' anxiety and low self-esteem and I've been able to think about them with new compassion and empathy. And there are far, far fewer times when I feel that simmering anger at my husband or daughter, because usually I realize that the things I'm angry about are actually things I'm anxious about deeper down, and they are not things I need to be anxious about any longer. I've been experiencing less TMS pain in the last couple months already, thanks to finding this site, but this is the first time I've had a real psychological breakthrough. Whether or not it has any impact on my pain, I don't really care at this point - the lifting of this small burden is worth it. I need to remember how this feels for the next time I sink down into the self-pity and bitterness cycle. There is still plenty of muddiness to wade through, so I know I'm not going to be skipping along forever! I'll enjoy it while it lasts, though, and try to keep the practice regular and fresh.

    ETA: To tie in with Ewok's original post, at my most bitter, I was even getting angry at inanimate objects that weren't doing what I wanted them to (a lid that fell sticky side down, a toy that tripped me, etc.), as though those objects had done it on purpose. That is a typical pattern in my extended family, anyway, and a reaction I was taught to have to small frustrations. But something about the pause after the irritated "tsk" has even helped me remember that the universe isn't out to get me, trying to break me down with a series of small annoyances. Such a burden lifted, to not have the whole universe against you!
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  15. Click#7

    Click#7 Well known member

    "Resentment is a shade of anger. For me it comes from feeling burdened and overwhelmed by having to do things I don't want to do, especially when it's at the expense of what I do want to do. "

    Oh boy Plum you hit the nail on the head on this one.....I lived my whole adult life in a profession I was forced into. Yes I learned to like it somewhat, but it wasn't my passion. I journaled that tonight because it finally hit me as part of my issues....the other part was the controls it had over me. Being forced into something I was afraid of. Almost like an arranged marriage.
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