I had a close friend in my late teens early twenties. We had both suffered trauma and mind screwing at the hands of our parents and if you are a regular at Educo, you know we have a saying: “welcome to the club”. As the years went by, I, ever seeking to overcome limiting self perceptions and behaviors, became more and more ‘self aware’ thus more ‘aware’ in general. I noted that “Cody” would react to certain words or phases as if the word were hurting him. We have all seen this in the personal growth/recovery world, in ourselves, and in others. The only way I could lessen the blow, that I attempted, without allowing it to control how I show up in life, (more on that below) was to try to ‘joke’ about it. No one would confront him on it because he was ‘so nice’. I said “don’t be easy offendo” and then would try to ‘explain’ …I know I know, a crude device early in my walk of self discovery. Yet, I thought it more cruel to just ‘ignore’ it. Which we find everywhere by the way – enabling.
We talk more about codependent behaviors in other pieces so I won’t elaborate here other than to say:
Words, and more over what the ‘idea’ that they represent in the hearers ears are hugely important to your growth. We become word sensitive because the words represent a imprinting of some person place or thing that impacted us, either for good or bad. If we never exam what I’ll call our ‘word programming’ experiences in our past, we cannot truly understand how controlled, post suggestively, by peoples words (and actions for that much) we truly are. Remember it’s “the hidden force within”.
Again, this is very important:
Your experiences with people in the past have imprinted you, especially ‘family of origin’ experiences, and much of how you learned to relate was with using words. Words represent an idea. That Idea was formed by your experience with how when why and who used or introduced a phase to you.
Once the word or phases are used to, lets say, in a negative sense like “you’re really a dumb kid” and tie that to an action like spilling a soda, or dropping something, you now have the grand foundation for ‘forming identity’ through words tied to action. It could work a myriad of ways, he could just feel shame and dumb every time he spills something, or makes a mistake. When someone calls him dumb it could trigger shame and even then becoming self conscious, thus dropping something making the programming complete – ‘you are dumb because you spill, you spill because indeed you are dumb’. Powerful powerful destructive programming.
Let this be a full frontal warning on parents: what you say and what you do is having a direct impact on your child – even that little under your breathe huffing or impatience – yes, all of it.
Perfect negative destructive programming that will linger and cause doubt in the mind of that child, especially if reinforced over and over and over until he works through and reparents himself. Get it? You can’t just ignore the ‘impact’ words had on your psyche or subconscious and how it ‘forms’ your perception of how you relate to the world, and…especially other people. You can’t just ignore this important critical point that your past is living through you in the present, not if you want to be ‘free’ of insecurities, angers and limiting and or self destructive behaviors.
Being Offended – Angry Defense
The ‘offended’ that we are referring to is the angry response. The indignant response. The hurt response. All are attempts of controlling what one feels ‘after’ the fact. The ‘offender’ could be totally clueless and have no malice intent what so ever. You see insecurity is always looking for a way to feel better by pushing others down or climbing huge goals, but neither will work and only prolong the pain and lack of true understanding which leads to true development which leads to true freedom (autonomy). Just as an aside, do you really think you can undo your early programming and trauma and messaging by getting upset? Or forcing yourself to say, get a degree or make vice president or CEO? We are so locked into our programming as we strive to overcome it, it’s like having a virus on your computer so you just punch the keys harder? The problem is within. The problem is specific and personal to you.
People who are easily offended are hyper sensitive to their environment – period. We can see in today’s ‘Post Enlightened’ period this epidemic of being ‘hyper sensitive’ is fostered, yes even encouraged! People who get angry over regular things they have no control over like traffic, rude people and even someone not answering your phone call within the minutes of you dialing are getting set up for one big or many big falls.
If you have a ‘friend’ like this you are probably an enabler or some sort because they would most likely be offended it you told them the truth about anything! Have you ever had someone get offended and react over the silliest of little things and turn it into a huge mess? Of course you have. It had nothing to do about the subject matter, any manner of triggers could have set it up or set it off.
Using Anger to Control.
Make no doubt about it, being upset, offended, perturbed, agitated, impatient, outright angry, outraged or raging is an attempt to control. When it is used against you, it is to upset you, throw you off your center and make you conform and become subject to the angry person. If you react in any way, you have lost and give that person power and control over your weakened self. You’ve enabled them to do it again, but with more confidence, more degrading strength as your ability to resist (not react) becomes diminished. It’s as if you are attached to them by some invisible angst. If you find the power to ‘act from a place of perfect patience’ , what ever that is, and not react, the anger, the slight, the demeaning behavior of the angry person will fail, and become useless – and then something very powerful will happen. You may not even be able to ‘see’ it – but as soon as you don’t react, which the person is use to having people react to their controlling anger, will them self, become insecure.
Yes, that right. If you can find it to not be moved by the pressure of people (in the forms of anger, guilt, shame, manipulation) , that pressure will fall right back on them and the will suddenly feel the reality of their own feeble weakness.
They most likely will try harder and harder to upset you, only making them even crazier with self doubt and more anger. Getting angry at everything little thing is a huge distraction from you looking at yourself. Weakness that masquerades as strength. It has been said that there are no justified resentments. Oh you can resent everything from the nose God gave you to your job to your wife – but there is no respite, there is no justification. Oh the weak worldly will tell you out of the pit of hell: get back at him, get angry, you have every right to be angry etc etc – this is crap from hell if you want to be free of insecurities and live fuller life with purpose and contentment.
Rebecca – Insecure Rage-a-holic – Case in Point
Rebecca is a bright intuitive young woman who had a weak father and an overbearing nit picking controlling mother that both abused and neglected her. She had many compulsive behaviors and struggled with keeping and maintaining healthy relationships. Early on in our conversations I noted that she would call and right off the batt it would sound like this:
<big sigh – then agitated tone>
“oh hi, i’m running late…again…I haven’t even gone to the bathroom since I left work and then there was this lady coughing on my back in line, and i’m like ‘who does that’ and i was so pissed cause she just keep couching on me and then traffic is all f**ked up and i’m tired and I don’t know…..”
….I break in “hello rebecca”….
“oh hi..i’m sorry Im just so pissed that it’s so late now and i haven’t even hit the road-
“I break in again “why don’t you use the bathroom at work?”
“oh, well I just don’t have the time-” you don’t have the time to go to the bathroom at work? really? come on now, you really have to start putting your health first you know” – I say
she breaks in “well I just wanted to get out of there then a client came in and I didn’t even leave till 2 hours later…”
This goes on and on, note that there is nothing of substance really being discussed, just an agitated reliving of agitation, which, yes, causes you to be set up for MORE agitation and anger. Also note the lack of boundaries and self care. Destructive codependent behaviors of trying to be nice to everyone for a payoff at the expense of real healthy healing.
Now, here is the punch line, here is the kicker, and here is the ultimate attempt at manipulation.
I simply said to her at one point, very calmly, “you know there is another way to be”
– she was incredulous? What did I mean? She can’t have her anger? Who the hell do I think I am?
I said “Your only a victim of your environment or subject to it, because you choose to be. You could, instead of resenting and judging that woman while you stood there like a powerless victim, simply gather the courage to turn around and ask her to back up and to cover her mouth please. This way you are empowered instead of upset. You get to ask for what you want in life. Instead of you feeling the angst, put it where it belongs.”
She flipped a lid. She couldn’t believe that I would suggest that she shouldn’t get angry. This was this womans drug of choice I saw very quickly. Just the ‘thought’ or ‘suggestion’ that she was wrong in her anger was like throwing a glass of wine on the queen. It was also very clear to me that she rationalized this raging, and had support for it for some time. She was just to ‘secure’ in her ‘anger’ to even question if it was good, or rational or that it was impacting her life?
Angry judgements, Petty bickering, gossiping, being upset and impatient over the smallest of things day to day: sets you up high, for a fall later………
a really hard fall……especially if you’ve feeding this dark side for any given amount of time.
She was raging now, (rule: anger begets anger begets anger) she then turned her guns on me: “are you telling me you never get angry!!!??”
“No, but i’ve learned that anger was killing me and poison and separates me from being reasonable” I answered, it is a principle that I endeavor to adhere to because it fosters healing and contentment in my life, that is, not to get upset over small stuff and to try to be true to myself and ask for what I want or take action.” Rebecca rejected the notion outright completely. The lack of ‘support’ and the lack of ‘fighting’ with her left her with only one thing: herself and what she was becoming – the truth about herself: She was becoming the very thing she despised.
She did review it later, once she was not so ‘charged’ yet made excuses for her behavior and even blamed me to excuse her irrational explosion in her mind…keeping her locked in her false perception of herself as a ‘good person’ that wouldn’t hurt anyone. But in the moment, when just calmly confronted with her own behavior, she only got more angry, completely unreasonable and ended up sabotaging the complete interaction.
Remember what I said, insecurity looks to put others down to push itself up. When someone actually confronted this woman, and she had a slew of ‘friends’ that supported her in her anger, she had to feel all the insecurity and guilt from being an angry judgmental person, for whom she tried to pride herself on NOT being judgmental. When you stand up to a angry easily offended bully, watch…as you stay calm, all the things that they have pushed in the closet start falling out without your reaction for it to judge.
Rebecca went on to struggle between holding on to anger and resentment and it didn’t fare well for her – it got much worse.
Remember, anger is only a defense against feeling the deep painful loss of love and the impact of abuse. If Rebecca ‘allows’ the painful experiences from her past to be ‘processed’ (allowed up, felt and examined), she may feel very intense pain at first, but will follow will be the freedom to ‘act’ and not be controlled by old traumas that program us to go in circles. Thus allowing her to ‘choose’ from a place of autonomy, sovereignty if you will, to act ‘anew’ in the present moment, releasing her from reliving her past that brought her back to abuse and despair in the past.
When old trauma is ‘felt’ and ‘processed’ in the present, it releases the ‘pressure’ of creating compulsive self limiting behaviors cycles.
Beneath Anger is Pain
Remember when I said that insecurity pushes others down to bring itself up – it eases the pain, its a form of control….it gives a slight relief, but then just grows bigger like a pimple: red, sore and ready to explode. There is no avoiding feeling what is repressed to get to freedom. We like to say “there is no way around, only through”. Let me be as empathic as I can: We know how hard it is to let that pain up. We are survivors and overcomers. We did not ‘learn’ recovery out of a book and received a piece of paper for it – like so many are now- We have actually done and continue to do our own very substantive recovery and personal growth work.
We understand why the compulsion to avoid and distract away from the pain of doing the hard work is so strong. Please, if you have come this far- keep going.
Freedom, peace of mind and healthier ways of coping and living are close…yes, closer than you think….
Being upset and offended: When it’s used against you, it’s control and manipulation. When it’s turned inward, it’s self flagellation, self deceptive, which leads to more conflict, depression and confusion. That’s what avoiding the hard work will land you. Remember, humility is required: one cannot ascent to something ‘greater than himself’ if he is the highest order, i.e. a god unto himself. This is the height of hubris, ego and arrogance. Healing comes with understanding. Understanding comes from knowing that there is much we have yet to ‘re-learn’ about ourselves….