My Difficult Learning Curve
Recently I had to deal with this topic coming at me in my own life (again). And hey, maybe one hasn’t lived until a guy has lied, cheated, and terrorized his way towards trapping one in a foreign land and taking control of one’s child. Or, maybe life couldn’t be appreciated for the beautiful journey it is without having an irrationally angry roommate bust in on one through the locked bathroom door with threats of vengeance after giving him a second 30-day notice to vacate the premises. But maybe that is just me (sad sarcastic chuckle).
I start with some of my experience, hoping that it speaks to those who can relate, those who have been on the pointy end of others’ aggression. I wish to address those who have been left trying to make sense out of what has happened to them and hope to leave a positive message for change and growth into confidence, self-esteem, and healing for the offenders as well as those who have been harmed.
Yesterday a friend was asking me about the circumstances I just went through with my roommate, and he wondered if the guy I had to boot out, with help of court and police, was mentally ill. I don’t know for sure. I only suspect him of OCD, and some other disorder with a lack of empathy – things I have no authority to diagnose. I believe my Ex, who dealt with a lot of anger and aggression, is mentally ill, but so high-functioning that he has fooled all counselors (but one) whom we saw together, and even gone so far as to target a counselor to marry next. (I suspect narcissism, sociopathy, and again, things I have no authority to truly diagnose). As far as the roommate (now finally out of the house), I don’t know. Maybe we are all a little mentally ill, and the trick is to learn not to blast others with our own brand of dysfunction. The test is to find ways to deal with it in a healthy manner.
For years I gave up my life to a publicly charming, but secretly controlling, deceitful, and determined male. I feel I have been blessed with a good spiritual understanding that made me strong enough to survive what was to come (and is still coming). However, I have never been strong in the face of anger and aggression directed at me. For some reason, there has been a lot of it in my life.
I have examined where I came from in life and pondered the possibility of past life reasons as well. I have gone to a great deal of effort to examine myself and reflect on any possible causes I may give to lead to such behavior towards me. I have come to be a stronger person, but still seem to be giving off some signal that I am a pushover to be taken advantage of.
In short blog entries, I cannot explain to anyone the how-it-happened or the grief of a mother in losing guardianship of her daughter in a foreign land to an angry, scary, covertly well-funded father. Simply put, my fear of the man’s threats and calculated actions got all mixed up with my spiritual process of always pushing myself to practice forgiveness. For all you believers out there, I am sure that Daughter’s and my karma had a major role to play as well.
Unfortunately for my last roomie (though maybe fortunately in the grand scheme of the betterment of all humans), I finally made it to the point of standing up for myself and following through. (Had I done so with the Ex, I might still have Daughter in my full-time care). I am now another lesson closer to understanding and preventing future abnormal aggression in my own life.
The General Who and Why of Anger and Aggression
I would like to state very clearly here, that I adore men. Though I have had a lot of negative experiences with some bad seeds, I have faith. I believe the natural tendencies within men and women both can be harnessed for good or for bad.
On the good side, I have seen natural tendencies towards aggression used in positive ways by beautiful men reaching for something higher. This aggression is to conquer higher levels of learning with ferocious determination. This aggression is to love oneself as a man. This aggression is to fight for the heart of an intended one. This aggression busts through problems and protects family with steadfast care.
For any men taking offense to my attempts to summarize the plenitude of research out there on aggressive male behavior, please remember that I am talking about the men who allow their natural tendencies to be used DYSFUNCTIONALLY and tragically.
– I believe in righteous men who have blossomed naturally into a positive balance with their common tendencies
– I believe in the men who have overcome their dysfunctions (socially and internally)
– I believe in the potential of all the many out-of-balance men who will vanquish their dark tendencies
– I believe that those men will also come to live in the beautiful light of everything that God has gifted them with as men, PEACEFULLY
Strangely for me, in presenting the draft of this entry to some of my male friends, I received some very strong reactions, one of which was powerfully in agreement with a “Hey, why not? It’s all true.” and two of which made me re-write this with as much tact as I could find (and 500 to 1000 more words than I wanted to use, lol). I hope that piqued men might re-read this thing and find the differentiation between men using their natural tendencies to aggression in wonderful, admirable ways, and those who have slipped into something very unpleasant.
What follows is a very inadequate attempt to put a finger on some possible differences between men and women that may or may not explain dysfunctional anger and aggression (dysfunctional in my opinion meaning, acting on natural tendencies beyond socially normal, acceptable, and loving ways). And the traits mentioned, such as empathy or logical problem solving, are NOT exclusive to one gender or another, but more dominant in one or the other, as the research shows.
According to one set of notes I found, from Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute, men are more likely to engage in physical aggression than women, and women were equally likely to engage in verbal aggression. Of these, men saw their aggression as a positive thing, exercising control over others, brought about by an attack on their self-esteem or integrity. Women saw their aggression as a result of stress and lack of control, leading to a sense of guilt.
As stated by Jed Diamond, from Men Alive, men become violent because:
– They feel disrespected (shame)
– They are lighter on the empathy side of life as a first reaction and more about problem solving (logic)
– They are light on the oxytocin side of things that would lead to higher empathy
– They don’t have enough close male friends
– They have high testosterone levels
On the authority of Dorian Fortuna Ph.D, Psychology Today, men are genetically predisposed to violence and aggression, committing the highest percentage of crimes (some 85-90 percent) and making up the highest amount of victims, citing studies done all over the world in primitive and modern cultures.
While we do fall into allowing the natural tendencies to occur in boys and girls, it is not actually our training boys to be aggressive, but rather a genetic tendency that impels boys to ask for things that support their natural desires, to which many of us give into without thinking. An example of this is that boys ask for toy guns and girls ask for dolls. Parents and media generally follow these requests and enhance them.
Also, he states that women, while having been socially emancipated in recent times, have not increased in aggression, indicating further a genetic predisposition in men.
The thing I am getting from all the reading on this subject is that the most aggression and violence come from the dysfunction of some men, falling out of their wonderful ability to problem solve and protect, into a state of insulted pride. This is also our global dysfunction in not helping many men to grow into the worthy and amazing half of the population that they can be.
What I get about the women is that many are more empathy-filled and emotional, but don’t know how to problem solve the injustice coming at them from men. Being a bit more emotional in the face of love thwarted, women can tend to be a little passive aggressive. Another global dysfunction is our not teaching women to go ahead and be outspoken, to stand up for being the wonderful half of the population that they are. This can be done in a way that loves and honors men, many of which feel that they have lost the freedom to be men in a world that seems to be more and more controlled.
To be fair, I have seen some very dysfunctional women using passive aggression and outright verbal abuse of their men, to the point of emasculation and destruction of men’s self-worth. Though I do see the possibility that some minority of women have swung the opposite way on the pendulum, from dutiful caring to dysfunctional aggression, (maybe rightfully emboldened by modern ideas of equality, but ABNORMALLY enraged by thousands of years of oppression), in my opinion (and the results of much research available), the causes for serious aggression (unnecessary war, crimes, and family violence) still lay at the MALADJUSTED men’s door.
The physical violence and again, in my opinion, the aggressive verbal communication that I have witnessed more from men than women in my half a century in this body, is the more acute cause of much of our individual and global suffering.
What To Do About It
Some of the suggested cures or positive, preventative therapies for men were to:
– Allow oneself (men) to look at the feeling of shame (bust out that big, bad secret each of you fellas have, hiding inside, by bringing it to awareness)
– Get regular massages to increase oxytocin (build empathy and good vibes)
– Join a men’s group (make friends guys!)
– Focus on strengthening family ties and building or fixing things more than blowing things up
– Practice empathizing before kicking into problem-solving mode (listen and imagine what things are like from women’s perspective)
What we women can do is:
– Remember the rightful place of anger in life and the healthy way that it can be expressed
– We can say, “No” to inappropriately expressed anger and practice being upfront with our own anger
– We can go out and love up all the little boys and men, countering the genetic tendencies of boys to fight and control – we can replace those general predispositions with love and creativity
– We can encourage self-love in our men, make them feel good about who they are by appreciating their creative problem solving and protective talents, to help us as women
A good thing to keep in mind is to remember that saving the world by loving does not mean that we stand idly by and let dysfunctional anger put us in harm’s way.
Say, “No,” remove the threat, and then let the healing begin…
I love the idea that we could heal the world by retraining the overt aggression of many of our men and own up to the passive aggression that many of us women express, bringing our thoughts out into the open for discussion.
Murders, wars, family violence could all diminish, making way for a new era if we put the effort into understanding what leads to these tragedies. We could then replace them with the mindful expression of anger, loving acceptance, mutual support and empathy, finally embracing a higher and more conscious life that I believe we are all destined for.
Rah, Rah! Yaaaaaaay World!