Do you feel constantly angry and upset at the cards you were dealt in life? Do you feel like past trauma still gets you so angry, but you can’t take it out on those you want to, so you find yourself angry at your loved ones and those closest to you?
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You might be dealing with something I have also been dealing with that is a real mental health issue called Displaced Aggression.
Lately, I have done great work on recovering from the Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) that came on from my long-term effects of bullying and my personality of being a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). Yes, these are real medical and mental health terms. It has taken me a great amount of time to come to terms with these issues about me.
Like all things in life, there is a Yin and Yang or Good and Bad to having these things. Being HSP makes me more empathetic and caring, but I can also be easily overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. That’s OK as I have learned techniques to overcome the negatives when needed. As an extrovert, these are difficult to control, but I work on them every day.
One of my biggest long-term issues that has become habitual after 30+ years of doing it is a mental health issue called “Displaced Aggression”.
Just so we are all on the same page, the Psychological community defines this as: One of the most known types of aggression is displaced aggression. Displaced aggression is defined as “instances in which individuals aggress against persons other than their frustraters” (Baron and Richardson, 1994).
Displaced aggression is when someone frustrates you, and you cannot aggress the person who made you frustrated because that person may have more power than you. Therefore, you displace your aggression toward an innocent third party who may be less powerful than you.
Sometimes, the innocent third party may resemble the provocateur in several aspects such as gender or name. Provocation, frustration, stress, and anger are all related to displace aggression.
So, you can see how this can develop for bullying survivors of any age. For me, I started this behavior in my teens to my parents and continued to deal with it with my wife and kids.
I was never physically violent, but just easily frustrated and angered and would bring that home and take it out on my loved ones. It is something that I am working hard daily to stop or control. I take many different approaches. Here’s just a few.
- I count to ten, before I respond when I feel frustrated.
- I walk away and don’t say anything. I might even go outside and scream (yes, my neighbors wonder about me).
- I bite my tongue and just don’t respond.
- I ask myself, “why am I really angry”? Is it worth hurting others and yourself?
- I take ownership of my anger. The only real person that can make you angry is YOU. It is always an option how to react and I have learned to not let myself be angry at every little thing. Should you sometimes be angry? Sure, it’s an emotion like anything else. But choose when and why more wisely.
- Finally, I try to always remember that I love these people and don’t want to treat them this way and make them feel like I am the bully.
The last concept is really important. Just because I suffered from long-term effects of bullying, doesn’t mean I don’t want to bully. Most bullying survivors want to bully back and displaced aggression is one of the easy ways to do this, without facing your aggressors.
But, it is a bad way to handle things and a hard habit to break, once it starts going on for a while. But every day, I try to be better about Displaced Aggression. It continues to be two steps forward and one step back and that has to be OK for now.