The addictive cycle begins with just not feeling right. Your needs aren’t being met, you may feel abused or neglected, either in the past or the present. You’ve tried to fix things in different ways, but nothing seems to work. You’re just not getting what you want. You may not tell anyone, but you feel a lot of anxiety and pain, almost all of the time. The anger just builds and builds. You may have some physical pain from this, or the feeling that you’re going to explode.
And then you do explode.
Usually when you explode, someone gets hurt. Some of your stress is relieved, and you might possibly even have felt good for a few moments while you were releasing, but it doesn’t last. The person or people you hurt may be the ones you love the most in the world–either way you don’t like the results of your explosion. You swore you wouldn’t do it again, but you just can’t seem to stop. You feel guilty, and you may or may not be able to apologize. When you do apologize nobody really believes you anymore. You might even think you were justified in your explosion, blaming someone else for how you felt.
Your needs still are not met. The problem is worse. But you got the temporary relief from anger/rage release, so if something doesn’t happen to break the cycle you will probably do it all again. This is addiction. You don’t have to live like this.
Fortunately, there are many different ways to break the cycle of anger/rage addiction.
1. Learn to meet your unmet needs. There is a sad, frightened child in every anger/rage addict, whether they know it or not. Once you begin to meet some of your own emotional needs, you will be more easily satisfied with what others can give you, taking a lot of stress out of relationships.
2. Identify the old behavior patterns and faulty thought processes that you have been using that maintain your addiction and destructive behavior. You may need Anger Management Counseling or an Anger Management Program to help you with that.
3. Giving yourself some relief from physiological distress can also help to break anger/rage addiction cycles. Exercise, a healthy diet, relaxation or meditation can be very helpful in this area. Getting plenty of rest is also essential to alleviating physiological distress.
4. Finding healthy ways to release your anger and rage can be extremely helpful for breaking the addictive cycle. You can read Dr. DeFoore’s book or listen to his Anger Management Techniques to learn more about healthy anger and rage release.
5. Experiencing physical release and relief with healthy anger work can be a major breakthrough for some people suffering from anger/rage addiction. Feeling powerful, being loud and using physical aggression in safe, non-destructive ways lets you know that it’s okay to be strong and take charge of your situation. And no one has to get hurt in the process.
WHEN RAGE BECOMES ADDICTIVE
The powerful rush of adrenaline that often accompanies anger feels good. It actually gives a person greater physical strength temporarily while the adrenaline is being released. After the release of anger, there is often a sense of euphoria and general well-being. If there has been a significant physical exertion during the expression of anger, there may also be endorphins released into the bloodstream, creating an even greater feeling of pleasure. All of this adds up to one point: you can get addicted to explosive releases of anger and rage.
It feels bad to store up feelings. Sometimes you get tense, irritable and uneasy. You may even develop physical pain from the tension, and possibly develop stress-related illnesses. The relief from tension experienced during aggressive behavior actually creates good feelings on a physical level, although you may be in great pain emotionally. That’s the nature of addiction. When pleasant feelings become associated with unhealthy and destructive behavior, you get addicted to that behavior.
The addictive cycle helps to illustrate how the pattern of suppression and explosion develops. The cycle begins when your needs for love, nurturance, support and security go unmet in childhood. This includes experiences of neglect, abandonment, rejection and the many types of direct abuse. Part of being born as a vulnerable child in an imperfect world means having experiences that are painful and frightening. One of the ways we protect ourselves from more pain is through the use of anger.
If your parents were not educated about the healthy value of anger, they may have punished or rejected you when you displayed this emotion. Unfortunately, you continued to be hurt in various ways, and many of your needs continued to go unmet. This causes a buildup of anger and frustration, leading to a breaking point in a situation you feel is “safe” to release your anger. The problem is that you tend to feel the safest (and the most angry) in your home with those you love. This is also where you tend to find the “last straw” that sends you “over the edge.”
That’s when the explosion occurs, followed by the rush of power and energy. At this point in the cycle, you may be verbally, emotionally or physically abusive. This usually leads to an apology or an attempt to “make it up to” the person or persons you have hurt. Some people don’t do this part; they just retreat into tremendous shame and guilt and don’t say a word about what has happened. Some powerful denial and blocking can occur at this point if the person is incapable of processing what has actually happened.
When apology or compensation does occur, the victim(s) may or may not forgive the abuser. It really does not matter. If the shame goes unhealed, the forgiveness will not be accepted. What matters is whether or not the person in the addictive cycle takes responsibility in the present, and takes care of unfinished business from the past. If they do, they’ve broken the cycle. If not, they will repeat the cycle and there will be more pain and suffering for all concerned. Fortunately, there are many effective ways to break the addiction cycle, and therefore no one has to be a victim to their addiction.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO
When you have effectively broken the anger and rage addiction cycle, your anger becomes healthy. Healthy anger is one of the most powerful resources you can have, and you can use it in positive ways to create the life of your dreams.