Being In Fight Mode – Core Reasons People Get Angry When Stressed or Anxious

An outcome of being stressed or anxious is that we can go in to fight mode and defend ourselves, which makes it difficult to resolve conflict or challenges, especially if it involves people, which life usually does.

Anger can be triggered by a perceived threat such as perceiving we are not

  • Liked
  • Valued
  • Accepted
  • Supported
  • We don’t belong

Even if what we do want deep down is to create a bond and connect with the other people, if we are too overwhelmed with sensitivity to the vulnerability, we can reflexively act in ways consciously and unconsciously that prevent bonding and connecting.

Some common fight mode communication styles we see in Kinesiology sessions with clients are

  • Stone walling
  • Withdrawing
  • Being dismissive
  • Defensive
  • Blaming
  • Impatience
  • Not accepting responsibility for our actions
  • Avoiding
  • Not listening
  • Being hostile to one-self

The Unseen Reason why people can feel vulnerable with others (hint – it’s not to do with them)

Anger can come from stress. related to feeling vulnerable. The vulnerability doesn’t really relate to the other person, but rather how you really feel about you deep down. For example, if someone acted in a way that was disrespectful, unless you intrinsically felt worthless, then this is not a feeling you would be able to access or have available for you to feel.

On the other hand, if you felt a strong sense of self-worth, if someone did something disrespectful, whilst there might be consequences or you could feel temporarily confused, surprised or disappointed, you would not take their behaviours so personally as to destabilise your self-worth or sense of self, as how they choose to behave is more about them, rather than you.

Why Feeling Vulnerable Can Be Helpful 

Sometimes vulnerability can be a signal that a shield would be appropriate in particular circumstances as it would be healthy.

In a relationship setting, if you are coupled up with someone who doesn’t care about your values or says one thing and does another, this would be logical and helpful to have a little alarm system inside of you signal that something in this situation isn’t right for you.

Sometimes feeling vulnerable is just a signal there is a problem that needs to be solved.

If we take this into a work setting or something more task orientated, sometimes vulnerability is your intuition (& logic) bringing to your attention where you need to focus. For example, if you feel vulnerable in a performance context this might be logically rational because:

  • You don’t possess a particular skill yet
  • You don’t have previous experience which can help to back yourself
  • Your skills aren’t strong enough for the task at hand
  • You don’t have enough time to reasonably meet demands
  • You’re missing some information essential to a deliverable
  • There is confused expectations between you and your colleagues, clients or stakeholders
  • Your team is not capable of meeting requirements before them

Since all of these factors could lead to not reaching goals, it’s helpful to feel vulnerable as you can then solve the problem. This isn’t personal, it’s about missing pieces, which can have the potential to make reaching goals overly challenging.

What can add on overwhelm to above though is when you in addition take performance stress personally. In Kinesiology we are often toning down the survival part of the brain that activates the fight flight reflex, when we internalise inpersonal threats.

Taking Your Performance Too Personally

Reaching goals can be a source of love, joy and fulfilment, as this is where you get to express you and your unique talents in the world. Even though all big goals can include can include struggle and pleasure, for healthy confidence and self-esteem, your sense of self should not be dependent on your performance.

Whilst many people can be observably anxious when they perceive that their performance is inadequate, many go to anger as a counter-attack can feel more empowering temporarily. Some believe if they weren’t to posture with anger, they could appear weak and be open and vulnerable to attack. Also when you blame others for how you feel inside, there can be a conscious and unconscious motivation to hurt and punish others through hostility or anger.

Sometimes taking too much responsiblity for others and external factors, can lead to a lot of anger frustration and resentment. For example, if you find yourself blaming yourself inappropriately for factors out of your control, such as

  • A colleague’s mental or emotional instability
  • Poor leadership in your workplace
  • Inadequate training to reach goals
  • Being under-resourced by your manager
  • A client’s imbalanced or misinformed judgments

this is a signal that you need to do some work on detaching your sense of self-worth from other’s approval and perceptions & other environmental factors, which are not in your control. Often these come tangled up in a web and you forget what’s what and what you are and are not responsible for.

Just like with a partner, sometimes in a workplace your expectations will never be met as the workplace values in practice are not aligned with your own, or perhaps they are at a different stage with what they are capable of.

Kinesiology can be very helpful for disentangling what you might be consciously or unconsciously overwhelming you, so that you can make your choices, communications and decisions from a place of power.

Inferiority Complex Creating a Superiority Complex and Anger

 Whilst anger can be intimidating and over-powering to others, as already discussed it often comes from a place of personal insecurity and feeling “less than”.

When someone feels deeply inferior to others, they can sometimes try to feel “better” than others to protect against the threat of exposure that inside they feel like they aren’t enough.

Many people’s personal judgments about whether they are enough come from social or parent conditioning, where if they comply to certain demands, “they are good” and if they don’t meet certain expectations “they are bad”.

If a person’s inner sense of worth was unrelated to performance of tasks, then they would realise that everyone is equally worthy, irrespective of their unique values and preferences.

Feeling Trapped by Expectations

Many people create prisons for themselves or very little freedom due to disempowering beliefs. The most common one’s we see in Kinesiology session related to feeling trapped include:

  • I must meet others expectations
  • I need others approval
  • I can’t accept all of me
  • I am not enough

Whilst many don’t want to be controlled by these beliefs, the consequences of letting go of them, may also seem too overwhelming. To flip above, the following might feel dangerous:

  • Not meeting others expectations
  • Not needing others approval
  • Accepting all part of me
  • I am enough

For many people, if they did suddenly believe all of above overnight, it could be terrifying as a lot of their life would need to change. This is why many clients consciously and unconsciously put the breaks on to resist making personal changes as the unknown can feel overwhelming.

What can be more stressful is when we get stuck in limbo land, knowing that we no longer want to focus on others & what they want, however don’t yet have the confidence or self-esteem to prioritise self. This can create very narrow space to move in and we can feel very angry, frustrated, resentful and stuck as we feel trapped.

To bridge the gap in these transitions, it is important to make decisions from where you want to be, even if it feels uncomfortable doing something new or unfamiliar to you, and you feel you you might have less control or certainty about the future. To relieve the pressure from forces keeping your stuck, we recommend Kinesiology to diffuse the stress and the personal meaning you make of such evaluations, so you are not as attached to outcomes. Usually it’s fear of consequences of particular choices that keeps people stuck.

Why Quiet or Shy People Can be The Most Angry Inside

Another key reason we see observe clients going into right mode is repressed anger.

Many people through lack of communication bottle up a lot of their feelings, anger or otherwise, and simply through the act of not expressing or accepting how they feel, create some strong surge currents of anger within.

The nice, quiet and polite people are even more at risk for repressing anger as they might be less likely to communicate whether this is relates to something postitive or negative. Sometimes their anger can be so buried, that they didn’t even realise that this was deep down.

This type of client can often feel this way if there is imbalanced giving and receiving and a build-up of resentment in one or more areas of their life.

Finding Freedom Within

We notice in Kinesiology sessions that many people confuse the idea that freedom is gained from external factors, rather than from within. For example, if someone doesn’t accept their true self, can you see how they can become trapped by their perceptions that they can’t express unaccepted side of themselves?

No matter how much money, time or space they earned, they will carry within them an inner sense of loneliness if they can’t connect with & express all parts of themselves.

Many people get stuck in the cycle of “doing” to “have” to “be”, whereas they need to reverse the cycle and make decisions from a place of “being” (themselves) then they will have (freedom) and action from there.

This state is already within us, if you are able to let go of disempowering beliefs that limit your freedom.

We hope this has helped. If you would like some further support in finding the core underlying drivers of your fight mode & letting these go, please get in touch today

© Rachel Smith & Core Kinesiology & Natural Therapies 2018

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