Page 7 - Comfort Zone Sample Chapter
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similar manner we might feel quite angry if we are   tacks. I have interviewed countless hundreds of
           frustrated in some manner (standing in line, for     individuals who have told me that the only way
           instance) but it is nearly never appropriate to act   they could cope with parental abuse was to be-
           angry in such a situation. It is always important,   come and stay angry. How many of my readers
           regardless of our circumstances, that we choose      either know someone who has said or themselves
           the most effective action for any situation, regard-  have said, “go ahead, hit me, you can’t make me
           less of how angry we may feel. That statement is     cry!!”, as a response to an abuser? Emotional an-
           important enough to repeat and emphasize:            ger is the protective shield for this situation.
              It is always important, regardless of our            As abused and neglected children grow and
           circumstances, that we choose the most effec-        develop they carry with them the memories of the
           tive action for any situation, regardless of how     situations that made them both afraid and angry.
           angry we may feel.                                   Since one of the functions of the growth process
                                                                is to learn to predict when abuse is coming, chil-
              Such a goal obviously represents an ideal that    dren tend to read or perceive their environment
           most of us will never fully achieve. We all lose     as far more threatening than it really is. What non-
           our cool or lose our temper at times. Ironically, it   abused adults would perceive as simply frustrat-
           is more socially appropriate to loose our temper     ing or challenging, abused adults will perceive as
           than it is for us to behave in a frightened or fearful   potentially abusive and threatening. With the full
           manner (being called a coward is far worse than      impact of memories which still produce fear as
           being called a hothead). Behaving effectively is     well as protective angry reactions, abused adults
           nevertheless an achievable goal, as well as a goal   react with anger to what is, in fact, not a poten-
           against which we can judge ourselves and others.     tially abusive situation. Read on, the worst is yet
             Deciding upon the most effective action is more    to come!
           difficult in some circumstances than others. One
           thing is certain, however: Acting on emotion alone,   Perception of an Outburst
           with no consideration of the circumstances or con-
           sequences, is never effective.                          For the most part, our formerly-abused adult
                                                                does not perceive his/her outburst as the wrong
            How Does Fear Produce Anger?                        thing to do. Rather, he sees his actions as hav-
                                                                ing prevented yet another situation of potential
              Fear turns into anger when there is no place left   abuse toward himself. He insures his safety, in his
           to run. As with any general statement, there are     opinion, by walling himself off behind a protective
           exceptions to the rule. It is, however, safe to say   shield of anger.
           that any individual who experiences rage from the      This approach to life produces a very vicious
           feeling of fear has experienced multiple and fright-  circle and a very tragic cycle of behavior in the life
           ening attacks of both a physical and verbal nature   of the abused person. The continued belief that
           during the formative years of his or her life. Simply   “I would not have been abused if I had reacted
           put, the abused becomes the abuser. What is the      with abusive anger first” constantly prevents new
           reason? Self protection!                             learning. So long as this cycle exists, change will
              The abused has learned that anger is the best     not occur, and the opportunity to neutralize the
           protection against an attacker. This learning gen-   faulty lessons of the past will be lost.
           erally occurred quite early in life and progressed
           to adult life with few or no experiences to help     How Does This Relate to Fear of Flying?
           lessen the intensity of the early learning.
             Does this mean that all abused individuals be-       Applying this picture to aviation is really not
           come angry in the face of fear? Certainly not. It    too complicated. As you well know, traveling by
           also does not mean that all angry and abusive in-    air can be full of frustration. To begin with, any
           dividuals have fear for the trigger. There are many   circumstance in life that calls for air travel is an
           sources of angry emotion and angry behavior. I       important one. Business travel generally has large
           will limit myself here, however, to the situation in   numbers of dollars and professional reputations
           which fear is the trigger for angry emotion and an-  at stake, family vacations are expensive and filled
           gry behavior.                                        with hope for fun and good memories, even short
                                                                getaways are filled with hope for stress relief from
           Coping with Anger                                    hectic and stress – filled daily schedules.
                                                                  All but the most experienced, veteran fliers hope
              For a time, early in the individual’s develop-    for the outcomes expressed in illustration 10-2.
           ment, angry emotions and angry behavior were         With hopes so high, the opportunity for frustration
           an effective means of dealing with frightening at-
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