When your body detects a threat, your autonomic nervous system sounds like an alarm telling you something is wrong. The amygdala, an area of the brain involved with emotions, memory, and survival instincts, is activated like a gas pedal hitting the floor. Stress hormones are automatically released, triggering your body’s instinctive reaction to danger. This stress response is one of the ways the body helps mobilize us to cope with survival threats, but it’s only helpful up to a certain point.
Common fight, flight, freeze (or appease) "reactionary" coping skills, include:
Verbally lashing out in anger, blaming others or something else for how we feel, trying to manipulate others into doing what we think is necessary to keep the peace. Yelling, crying, physically lashing out. This is especially true for children - they're mad and don't have an understanding, let alone words, to understand/explain why so they come out fighting. (Fight)(Flight)
Shutting down emotionally when in conflict or facing an angry person. The child/teen learned that not reacting or engaging or confronting an angry person kept them safe. (Freeze)
Working hard to please everyone, being hyper aware of how others feel in an attempt to keep things going smoothly. (Appease)
Responding in Anger is a coping skill that generally hurts us and often hurts others.
If you often use anger as a coping skill here are some journaling questions to explore.
In what settings am I the saddest/unsure/afraid?
In what settings am I the happiest/eager/most comfortable?
If I could change only one thing in my life, what would that be and why?
In a typical day, what do I find myself thinking about the most?
What do I feel is my greatest accomplishment to date? Was it done alone, or were others involved
Presently, what major regret do I have in my life? If it is reparable, what would be required to repair it
What do I need to do or be in order not to engrave “if only . . .” on my gravestone?