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Behind the Fear Part 2: Aggressiveness

By Sue Siebens


We continue the series with a second installment on Fear-Based Behaviors. (Read from the first post in the series here.) Many of our fears are not felt but are active below the level of consciousness. Our subconscious, aware of our unprocessed emotions, triggers these fears into actions and reactions.

Our second topic in this series is Aggressiveness: Going Against the Fear.

Even the word “aggression” can be triggering for some people. “Aggression is a behavior that is characterized by strong self-assertion with hostile or harmful tones. Aggression may sometimes be a normal reaction to a threat. It may also be abnormal, unprovoked or reactive behavior. Aggressive behaviors are directed at oneself, others, animals, or property. They can be verbal or physical. They can be premeditated and goal-oriented, or impulsive. They can be direct or indirect, overt or covert.”[1]


Woof!

And interestingly, the Diagnostic Manual of Psychiatry (DSM) does not list excessive aggression as a personality problem like other behaviors that go beyond “normal”: too much anxiety is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), too much fear is phobias, too much concern for personal safety is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc. Too much aggression? No diagnosis.[2] It seems to be lumped into “other” disorder responses.

There is a difference between being assertive/self-assured and aggressive. Assertive is being confident and straightforward while respecting the opinions of others and their right to have those opinions. Aggression always assumes they are right and absolutely correct, being harsh and not respecting others’ opinions and rights.[3]

Aggressive behavior can be a reaction at the moment or planned. Either way, the response is triggered. Each reaction depends on the person’s past high-stress emotions and the current situation. It’s personal and unique to them and what’s happening now.

Physical aggression involves harming others physically—for instance, hitting, kicking, stabbing, or shooting them. Nonphysical aggression is aggression that does not include physical harm.

Nonphysical aggression includes

· verbal aggression (yelling, screaming, swearing, and name-calling) and

· relational aggression is intentionally harming another person’s social relationships, for instance, by gossiping about another person, excluding others from our friendship, or giving others the “silent treatment.”

Nonverbal aggression also occurs in sexual, racial, and homophobic jokes and epithets designed to cause harm. [4]

If aggression is loud and visible, it is easier to identify. It’s the many quiet mental, emotional and verbal aggressions that may live more subtly in our lives:

· Social aggression is like hitting with feelings - Gossiping about someone, excluding someone, threatening to end relationships, making facial gestures, and bullying.[5]

· Passive-aggressive is indirect resistance to the demands of others and avoidance of confrontation, such as stonewalling, sarcastic comments, pretending to agree, deflection, silent sabotage, intentionally failing to follow through, making excuses, and any combination of these. [6]

All these triggered reactions come from unprocessed emotions. Our subconscious speaks through our emotional body memories, asking for some relief. The current situation has reminded the subconscious that some emotional event in the past—maybe recently, maybe long ago—has unfinished business and needs to be cleaned up.

These quiet aggressions build up the strain of life, little by little. Every time an irritant sparks an aggressive behavior, it adds an emotional pebble. That weight brings us down over time. If you are collecting stones from the time your eyes flutter open in the morning, your emotional gravel hauler will be outsized before long. You become more reactive because of this burden of stress.

How do we lighten the load and find more peace in our life?

We work on the triggers—those unprocessed emotional memories that keep springing to life in aggressive ways.

Emotional Resolution, EmRes, uses a natural process called Viscero-somatic Quieting (or Somatric Quieting). The body, including the head, is where our emotions live. Viscero-somatic quieting starts with locating current emotions by feeling active physical sensations in the body.

The mind is just reacting to the emotional information that these emotional, physical sensations represent. The mind unsucessfully tries to control them or to make them “go away.” It is the body’s job to hold and manage emotions, in the words of Lisa Feldman Barrett “Your brain keeps the score. Your body is the scorecard”.

The fact that we have aggression in our behavior, large or small, tells us that something remains unfinished, for whatever reason. It’s time to clean it up.

EmRes turns our attention to our unprocessed emotions. It gives the body time and space to finish cleaning up the emotional imprints left during high-stress events of our past. In an EmRes session, it uses current-ish situations as a GPS to stimulate enough subconscious recall to point the process to the triggering emotional imprint.

EmRes is simple yet so effective. The work is deep and can tremendously change how we feel, react and behave.

That gravel hauler will have less and less to carry. Life gets more stress-free and content.

So:

· What annoys you?

· What situations make you angry or frustrated, make you roll your eyes, be snappy, want to be violent, or punch a wall?


References

1. Aggression And Social Anxiety Among Young Adults ,https://www.researchgate.net/publication/356775497_Aggression_And_Social_Anxiety_Among_Young_Adults

2. On Aggression, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/dog-days/201612/aggression

3. What is the Difference Between Assertive and Aggressive, https://pediaa.com/what-is-the-difference-between-assertive-and-aggressive/

4. PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY – 1ST INTERNATIONAL H5P EDITION. Chapter 9. Aggression, https://opentextbc.ca/socialpsychology/chapter/defining-aggression/

5. The etiology of social aggression: A nuclear twin family study, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7192661

6. 7 tell-tale signs of passive-aggressive behavior, plus how to respond and address it in yourself,https://www.insider.com/guides/health/mental-health/passive-aggressive

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash


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