undoubtedly the most difficult addiction to discuss openly. Just
raising the subject evokes fears, memories of family beliefs and
training, sodal judgments, and, worst of all, hatred and
intolerance toward those whose beliefs are different.
All three major western religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have used their teachings to gain authority over followers, to create wars, and to suppress belief in any religion other than theirs. All three have treated women as less than men. Under all three banners, abusive and violent cults have flourished in the name of family, God, and country.
Religion and spirituality are vitally important elements in all cultures. Neither are intrinsically abusive. It is the misuse of power by religions and spiritual leaders that becomes addictive and leads to abuses. And it is the blind trust of those leaders by their followers that perpetuates the abuse.
Religious authority rarely permits questioning by followers, just as abusive and violent parents do not allow their authority to be questioned. The experience of arbitrary parental authority in early family life may make people more vulnerable to cults or charismatic leaders that manipulate followers for personal power and wealth. Cults can become a form of religious addiction, a means by which people recreate their family of origin: followers become the "children" and the cult leader becomes the parent who makes the rules, decides the punishments, and extorts unconditional love, loyalty, and obedience.
Lately, self-help groups have begun forming specifically to address religious addiction and abuse. Victims of abuse by clergy are joining forces to prosecute their abusers, even after decades have passed. These confrontations with religious authority require courage from the individual and the support of the community.
Much sexual abuse has been perpetrated with religious overtones, with threats of hell and damnation. Ritual (satanic) abuse is conducted through the black mass or other dark magical/religious rites intended to increase the subjugation of both victim and participants. Since millions have been taught from childhood not to question religious authority or doctrine, ritual abuse survivors have a very difficult time being believed when they attempt to get help. Denial blocks their way when they detail how religion or religious leaders have been perverted.
The exploitation of religion for political purposes is another form of abuse of power whose roots may lie in childhood experience. The United States Constitution guarantees separation of church and state precisely because our founding fathers knew firsthand the oppression of state-mandated religious practice and how it can lead to violence (i.e., the Inquisition). They were determined to create a different system based on individual human rights and personal freedom.
During the past decade, this principle has been seriously challenged. Religious groups have attempted to influence government policy against those with different beliefs. In some cases, fanatic (addictive) adherence to religious beliefs has led to violence: a pro-life advocate shot a doctor who worked in a family planning clinic; Moslem fundamentalists bombed the World Trade Center in New York City. Intolerance inevitably leads to violence, as history has proven generation after generation.
Religion becomes both a violation of others' rights and a form of addiction under the following circumstances:
As children, most of us learn that if someone gets angry, someone also gets hurt. It is an equation that quickly teaches us to run away from anger. But John Lee provides a new equation: Anger, when felt and expressed appropriately, equals energy, intimacy, and serenity. Here, in Facing the Fire, John Lee shows you how to face your anger to examine what you're feeling, to figure out what type of anger has you in its grip, and to choose the best technique for expressing that anger. It is an invaluable process that can help improve your health and emotional well-being and enhance the lives of those you love.
WHAT MAKES YOU ANGRY?
Your anger is your response to the world not going as you wish. You feel anger when you hit your thumb with a hammer. Your car breaks down a week after the warranty expired. Your parents don't come through with a loan. Your son leaves shaving cream on the mirror. Your unmarried daughter gets pregnant. Someone cuts you off on the highway. The referee makes a bad call. The price of gasoline jumps ten cents. A colleague in your office gets mugged. An air-traffic controller's mistake causes a crash. Kids keep starting to smoke. No compromise is found in Northern Ireland or the Middle East. War breaks out. Children suffer. People starve. People starve other people.
The world makes you furious, it's so wrong. Unjust. Stupid. Unfair. The world is full of things to be angry at, always has been, always will be. (And one day we, and everyone we care about, will die. That strikes me as exasperating, to put it mildly.) We get angry to protest the unfairness of life and the shabby way we're treated.
Occasionally-very rarely anger produces results. As infants, we awakened at night and howled, and our fury may have brought a parent (if we had good parents) from the dark to pick us up, hold us, warm us, dry us, give us food. If no parent came, we continued to cry, but in twenty minute eternity to an infant your tears would turn from rage and anger to hurt and grief at the way the world was And then to helplessness and hopelessness. We had been exposed to the lesson life endlessly teaches: protest may do no good; the only recourse may be mourning.
Anger is caused by frustration over the fact that the world is not made to satisfy our desires. Anger is thus inescapable, with us in the cradle and with us as we face our death. If we are human, we get angry. Even Jesus and Gandhi got angry.
ISN'T ANGER UNHEALTHY?
No. And yes
Anger expressed-pushed out from the body-is as healthy as any other emotion. Anger repressed, anger suppressed, anger inhibited, anger kept in the body is toxic. Doctors are just beginning to understand how dangerous internalized anger is. Medical researchers have found that people who suppress their anger, people given to suspiciousness, fuming, and recurrent hostile rages, are putting their lives at risk as much as people who smoke and people who are grossly overweight.
Dr. Mara Julius, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan, ran personality tests on a large group of women in 1971. Nineteen years later she re-interviewed those women who were still alive. She found that the women who in 1971 had showed signs of "chronic anger" and "long-term suppressed anger" were three times as likely to have died as other women their age.
The crucial difference among the women in Dr. Julius's experiment was not that some of them felt anger and the others didn't. All of them felt anger, but some expressed the anger, and others suppressed it. Many of the suppressers paid with their lives.
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology (August, 1992) found that when people with heart disease reconstruct incidents that still make them angry, the pumping efficiency of their heart drops by five percentage points. This is a temporary, but significant, impairment and demonstrates a direct link to anger and heart function. Earlier studies have shown that people who are by nature more hostile and irritable are as much as five times more likely to die at an early age from heart disease. Dr. Gail Ironson, a psychiatrist at the University of Miami and lead researcher on the study, says that the healthiest way to handle anger is to "express it with assertiveness, telling those involved that you're upset and why, but not in an angry way."
Other medical studies, cited by psychologist James Pennebaker in his Opening Up: The Healing Power of Confiding in Others (1990), link repressed anger to elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, hypertension, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, immune system disorders including white-blood-cell count abnormalities, breast cancer, asthma, diabetes, anorexia nervosa, and greater susceptibility to pain, as well as to everyday complaints like headaches, stomachaches, and backaches.
Suppressing our anger
Repressing it, internalizing it, turning it back on ourselves, swallowing it, storing it within us, inhibiting it, burying it, ''eating it,'' "stuffing it," can have catastrophic results for our health.
Furthermore, the very act of holding anger in itself takes energy-which is unhealthy because it leaves us less energy for everything positive in our lives. So when we hold in anger, we're tired most of the time. We fall prey to infection. We have problems performing sexually.
Finally, to numb the anger that is chained inside us, we are likely to be driven to addiction: to alcohol, drugs, food, work, TV, sex, sleep, or compulsive behavior.
Suppressed anger is harmful. Over two, ten, thirty years, it can kill.
Anger expressed appropriately, on the other hand, can actually keep us healthy. If you follow my suggestions for getting anger out of your body, I believe you will find your physical health improves. You'll sleep better. You'll have fewer stomach problems and migraines, reduced chance of heart disease, a stronger immune system and thus less likelihood of cancer and infection, more energy, and more intense sexual release because you're more in touch with your body.
Healthier yourself, you'll also have healthier relations with other people. You'll stand up for your rights and appropriate boundaries, and you'll defend yourself against other people's efforts to control you. At the same time, you won't be expecting them to fix the defects in your life. You'll give up trying to control them with rages or manipulation.
The bottom line' for me is that feeling anger and expressing it properly makes a person happier. I've seen this occur in my life and with hundreds of other people. When you begin getting the anger out of your body, your darkness and brooding start to lift. Your brow un-furrows. Your voice loses its edge of pleading and harshness. Your medical problems diminish. Your body gets looser, more supple. You laugh more often and more deeply. Your body, your personality, your whole being is lighter. Your spirit is freer.
You become, quite simply, more authentic, more actualized, more yourself. And more content being yourself.
Sounds good, eh? It is.
But it takes us a while and some work to get there.
A TEN POINT SUMMARY OF THIS BOOK'S THEMES
1. Anger is a normal feeling.
2. Anger is an energy in your body that needs to come out.
3. You will feel better-' 'Ahhh!"-when you've expressed your anger (literally, pushed it out)from your body. You do this by safely losing control.
4. Running away from your anger-burying, suppressing, drugging it-is unhealthy.
5. Directing your anger at yourself is also unhealthy.
6. Your anger is yours, and you need to find appropriate, safe, and healthy ways to get it out.
7. Some appropriate ways to express your anger by yourself and with other people are suggested in this book.
8. Other people will not always welcome your expression of your anger or other feelings, but you will often need to tell them your feelings anyhow.
9. You may be able to help people you care about, especially your children, deal with their anger
10. If you express your anger appropriately, it will increase your energy, your intimacy with those you care about, and your serenity.
|"What we live with we learn,
and what we learn
we practice, and what we
practice, we become...
and what we become
AND almost always, I have
found, who we become
has little to do with who
we were meant to be.
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|DISCLAMER: Before you start to look at the material that I have assembled for you I want to make clear that I claim very little original authorship here. Even where I don't give credit I probably should because there are very few original words of wisdom left in recovery. I want to especially thank Terry Kellogg, whom I do believe has a lot of original stuff, John Bradshaw whom I believe has the ability to synthesize others material better that anyone I know, and I guess if we wanted to be completely accurate we should not quote the serenity prayer out of content nor without giving credit to the author. I also want to give permission to anyone to use anything on this site for the benefit of recovery as long as they do not make any more money off of it. This offer only extends to what I have the right to give.|
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