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©2018 by Arnold Zeman Coaching.

  • Arnold Zeman

What happens when you get angry

Here are three great infographics from the National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine about how anger affects the body and brain:

As you can see, this is great information about the impact of feeling angry. And, it applies to other life stressors as well. It's easy to follow, keep, refer back to, and understand.

There are however two important missing pieces.

The first one is the meaning of the anger (or other stressor, like anxiety, fear, or shame) that you're experiencing. Its meaning can't be derived from an understanding of the chemical changes in the body. To get to the meaning, we have to directly experience in the body what the anger etc. is like. The process for doing just that is called Focusing.

The second lacuna is what can I do with this scientific understanding. It turns out that this very good explanation is not going to change anything for you. That's exactly what's hinted at in the second infographic above. Essentially, the prefrontal cortex of the brain goes off-line so that logic, detachment, analysis, and problem-solving are no longer available. Instead, the fight-flight-freeze response prevails. A top-down approach to the stressor isn't effective. What's needed is a bottom-up process. (I came across these contrasting metaphors in Bessel van der Kolk's, The Body Keeps the Score.) While Dr. van der Kolk doesn't include it, as he does other helpful modalities, I am convinced that Focusing is such a bottom-up process that facilitates change and carrying forward from the experienced stressor, whether it be anger or anxiety.

The science is helpful for understanding what's going on. When Focusing is added to our scientific explanation, healing can take place.

If interested in learning more, please get in touch with me for an initial consultation.