My last group therapy session was massively hard but really rewarding. One of the biggest modes in schema therapy is the Angry Child mode and we were looking at that, why it’s there and how it can be controlled.
I think I’ve said before that I struggle with feeling anger a lot of the time. If I do I feel guilty or I turn it around on myself and self-harm or berate myself. Otherwise I just feel scared, confused and anxious. I had an episode recently where, when I was treated unfairly, I tried to stand up for myself, but people are so unused to me being assertive that I was made to feel silly, thus making me not want to stand up for myself even more.
So why is anger important? It let’s others know that they’ve gone too far, they’ve hurt us, pushed our boundaries and that we won’t stand for that. It stops us being taken advantage of. It’s sometimes misplaced but at least it airs how you feel, it doesn’t bury who you really are and let you get more hurt. It can go too far and needs to be controlled and released gradually, rather than bottling it up and exploding.
I grew up in a family that was very British about anger and was used to it going unexpressed. When I was with a bullying boyfriend, I learnt that just surrendering to his anger got me less hurt than standing up for myself. I learnt that I didn’t deserve to feel anger as it was usually ‘my fault’ and I was of lesser importance than him, that I was emotionally irresponsible and needed to be taught.
So we used some role playing to let the angry child be heard about the punitive and demanding parents. And although I found I could voice the parent modes and not the angry child, I did learn that it was my lack of anger in the past that caused me to put up with being abused (ha, very simplistically – obviously not entirely that) and that it makes me afraid of conflict now so that I often run away from difficult situations or take them lying down. I want to please people so badly that I will try and make opposing parties happy and get stuck in the middle.
I guess I’m scared of becoming negative and overly selfish but…well, I’m a work in progress!