At its most basic level, anger is an internal response to protect oneself against feelings of terror, anxiety, grief, or shame. Core wounds such as “I’m not good enough” or “I’m unlovable” are often at the root of our experiences with anger.
Lately I’ve received a number of emails focusing on a similar topic: anger as a response to trauma, and how to manage the emotion when it gets out of control. I’ve noticed a pattern to the messages I receive--and anger is a topic that comes up often this time of year, as the holidays fast approach.
I suspect this is because the holidays tend to be very stressful for those in difficult relationships or who are recovering from trauma. Remaining in our “window of tolerance” can be particularly challenging during times of increased stress.
If you need extra support during the holidays,
please contact me for more information about joining
my secure peer-to-peer support group for female survivors of intimate partner violence,
hosted by Hope’s Garden.
The window of tolerance is a concept originally developed by Dr. Dan Siegel to explain the sense of inner peace and calm within individuals—in other words, a regulated and balanced nervous system. This is the place where the Imago Dei—the true self, made in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27)—takes the primary role within a person. When we’re operating within our true selves we can successfully cope with our emotions, no matter what those emotions may be.
However, for those of us who have suffered from trauma, it can be an immense challenge to remain in our window of tolerance, and we often enter a state of hyper-arousal (fight/flight), or hypo-arousal (freeze).
I'm Jenny duBay, a domestic abuse survivor and now advocate. My degree is in Christian theology with a concentration on spiritual direction, and my vocational emphasis is on helping those who have suffered from domestic abuse to heal and reclaim their true selves.