Keywords: Anxiety Disorder.
From the moment we are born we are conditioned to adapt to our environment; our climate, and social settings for the sake of survival.
When all goes well, our parents will give us valuable tools to help us find our way in the world.
Unfortunately, through reaction, we identify with the unresolved thought patterns of our parents. These patterns might be reenacted-- in time-- as adults. They could include demands to live up to high standards at school or incessant comparing with siblings. Furthermore, they could include overly controlling behavior, being an unwanted child, sexual and physical abuse, and being considered worthless.
Developmental Trauma, Anxiety Disorder and How Patterns Get Passed Down the Line
Nothing justifies abusive behavior; however, it is often engaged in to compensate for a lack or perceived lack of a sense of self. For instance, the attached mother to her child who herself has never experienced an inner sense of belonging. Similarly; the chiding, abusive father who himself has been exposed to neglect and tries to get a sense of self-worth by putting his son down, and so on and so forth.
Unfortunately, through reaction, we identify with the unresolved thought patterns of our parents.
The trouble is that even if our parents or prime caregiver is abusive towards us as children, we will do our utmost to get their support, love or attention. Either positively or negatively, but overall by adapting to their demands and needs in one way or another. As a child, you do not have the tools yet to stand up for yourself or to be independent. Adaptation is, therefore, a survival strategy, although it has negative consequences that may be long-lasting.
Resilience, Lack of Resilience, Child Abuse or Neglect, and Anxiety Disorder
Parents are responsible for helping children establish their identity, their sense of self, and the ability to abide by clear and healthy boundaries. They assist them in accomplishing this by helping children to regulate and integrate their emotional arousal, or stimulating them in the face of fear or shut down. This way, children increasingly learn to deal with more complex tasks, which in turn strengthens their scope of resilience and establishes a healthy, functioning nervous system.
When parents or prime caregivers can’t provide this and are either neglectful or abusive, establishing a healthy functioning nervous system will be impaired; the child will either develop very rigid boundaries tied by distrust, or have difficulty in setting boundaries altogether; for example,when the need to be loved or accepted overrides reason and the determined ability to say "NO" when a relationship turns abusive.
Core anger for not getting the support you need in order to grow and develop and having your possibilities stunted is often suppressed by fear of the consequences, which too often involve even more abuse or neglect.
How Suppressed Anger Relates to Anxiety Disorder
When anger is kept inside for long enough periods, it starts acting inwardly against the sense of self, giving rise to feelings of incompetence, failure, lack of self-worth and self-esteem. In adult life, fear takes on a prominent role and expresses itself as anxiety attacks and disorders, followed by the need to overcome them.
The need to overcome fear becomes the constant occupation. Fear itself will, over time, uncouple itself from the initial anger. Moreover, fear and the need to overcome will start to project itself onto oneself and the world, thereby making it cyclic.
It is only when core anger starts to be acknowledged and "owned" that a healthy identity, a clear set of boundaries, and a strong sense of self can be established. Owning anger will naturally diminish or relinquish anxiety, and put self-validation above any valuation set by others.
Do you suffer from anxiety disorder as part of PTSD or CPTSD? Leave your comment below.
Wow,very interesting read,suppressed sadness/fear is my combo,would tackling this combo the same way as the anger/fear combo work the same way,acknowledging the sadness,then fear, ive been stuck here for sometime now…
I only recently came to understand that I need to own and process the anger that I would have said I didnt have. I didnt realise the it was there. I knew I was governed by fear but could not see that behind it was unacknowledged anger. What you have said helps me to understand the process that brought me here and the path I need to take to leave it too. As is usual you have helped me to unravel what keeps me locked into dysfunctional and painful beliefs and behaviours. Thank you Roland. You are uniquely gifted in helping those of us who struggle with the results of childhood trauma.
How do I go about apologising to my grown children, who still live at home, for doing the above to them growing up?
I have said sorry, but how do we, as parents build boundaries for us,
& them, as a family.
I think as you start to change and are coming from a different place than your past, they will start to see that and potentially be more at peace with their past.
My life has been ruined by anxiety and now I’m older it’s constant fear and terror of everything and nothing. I’m desperate for solutions but have tried so many things.
Helped me so much, this article.
This resonates with me on many levels. I’ve had anxiety and panic attacks since my teens. As Mr Bal said overcoming my anxiety has been my life long battle until I hit 55 yrs old. It was at that point my father and I had a typical rage filled fight but this time, for some reason, it dawned on me that the way we yell at each other isnt normal. Until then I had no idea I had been verbally abused my entire childhood and into adulthood. Reading about CPTSD helped me get to know who I was. With a great therapist I was able to understand my father didnt do this to me on purpose. Once I forgave his mistakes my anger died down and life is different. I still struggle with anxiety but am hopeful, now at 62, I might still find relief and peace. It has been hard finding a therapist that “gets” CPTSD, that is why I love reading everything Rolland Bal writes.