What is an Anger Addict?
“Where there is anger, there is always pain underneath.”—Eckhart Tolle
Anger is an emotion that stems from fear. Addiction is a condition that someone chooses to engage in–it is a behavior to avoid feeling bad (such as being afraid or hurt). Anger addiction is similar to other addictions. The common denominator among all of the addictions is wanting to numb or suppress a way of coping with feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and overwhelming negative emotions.
The strange thing is that anger has the same energy intensity as joy. When you are angry, the energy flows throughout your body. However, when you are angry, you are not in a good state of mind. Anger is one of the strongest energies that cause you to have the motivation and drive toward what you want or don’t want to do. When you are angry, you don’t feel sad, depressed, or happy. Anger overrides your logic, moral, and rational brakes in the brain because it originates from your limbic system–the brain center responsible for some of our most automatic emotions, such as fear and desire. The problem is that when you are angry you’re being run by your limbic system, which has the most direct link to our fight-or-flight response system. This includes control over adrenaline rushes, alertness, and other instincts that prime you for battle or rapid escape. That’s why, if you can’t control your emotions, they will control you. When you can’t control your anger, it becomes a double-edged sword that cuts you and the people who are involved in your life.
Furthermore, anger is an emotion that can protect you. Anger addicts’ weakest link is their lack of good communication. If they feel anything is out of their control, they feel scared and inadequate. When you express yourself to them about anything, they become insecure. They are like an inflated balloon that is hollow inside and if they suddenly strike some sharp object, they burst and deflate. Anger addicts deal with conflict by attacking, accusing, criticizing, or humiliating. And it’s not always screaming and insults. Many use the silent treatment. They are always in offensive and/or defensive mode, preferring aggression, sarcasm, and silent treatment as their weapon of choice. To compensate for their fear of inadequacy, they always have to punish others by directing their anger toward people and focusing their energies on excuses to feel good about themselves. Abuse is used by hurting someone to get what s/he wants.
Anger addicts say everything that comes to their mind without a filter, but God forbid if their exact words are repeated back to them. They either fight, respond with sarcasm, avoid talking or respond with silent anger. In between their huffs and puffs and silent treatment, they make sarcastic remarks or jokes and laugh at the other person’s expense. If that person becomes upset, they become angry, claiming they were just joking around, and it’s the other person’s fault for not having a sense of humor. You feel like you are walking on eggshells around them and waiting for their next blow-up, wondering whether you’ll get their loud aggression, the silent treatment, or a sarcastic joke. What they are after is justice (an eye for an eye) and they are angry because they feel things are not fair. They are acting out of their victimhood, with complete disregard for how their actions affect the people around them. The interesting thing is that their strongest link becomes their weakest, because they strive for absolute justice, yet make things very unjust for others. As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
Anger boosts the ego and works as a way of compensating for the fragility that lies underneath. Unfortunately, afterward the anger addict may silently have feelings of shame for his/her actions but because of their ego, they put the blame on others, saying things such as, “They made me angry! They pushed my buttons.” Silent shame turns to anger and rage again, spilling over like oil on smooth granite. The vicious cycle of being afraid of others who might hurt him/her again and denial of his/her own responsibility makes the fabrication of the anger addict stronger. It turns into a series of tantrums and punishments, and ultimately a denial of any responsibility. Their habit of being reactive becomes their destiny to have a very unhappy life.
I want you to ask yourself, “How do you handle conflict? How much are you in control of your emotions, and are you reactive? Are you better at listening or talking? Can you express yourself positively and effectively, and how well can you resolve conflict?” Pay attention to yourself and learn how you personally deal with common sources of friction or conflict. For instance, do you shrug them off, get really upset but recover quickly, get upset and recover slowly, suppress your feelings, or have other similar reactions? A problem can’t be healed by the same level of thinking that created it. You have to elevate your level of thinking in order to heal your wounds. Let go of the idea that your future would be the same as your past. You can learn to live with passion because your greatness will show up when you do.