What is the Animosity Cycle?
An Animosity Cycle is a reciprocating cycle of ill will and anti-social behaviour based on mutual and escalating aggression between two or more people.
An Animosity Cycle begins with a perceived wrong, either real or unreal, experienced by someone which results in anger and subsequent aggression being expressed towards someone else. This generates feelings of discontent or anger in the victim who reciprocates with a similar level of aggression.
The Animosity Cycle is intrinsically related to Anger and Aggression.
Anger is a typical human response to frustration. It is natural for people to want to get their own way in relation to situations they encounter. Frustration often occurs when people fail to obtain the outcome they desire from a situation. Anger may then be experienced when frustration with the unsatisfactory outcome is encountered.
Anger can result either as a consequence of an outcome or in relation to the process of trying to achieve a specific outcome. Personal attachment by an individual to a desired outcome is primarily responsible for fuelling Anger.
Anger may be expressed as Aggression
When anger builds up within someone, that person may vent their anger in the form of aggression. The likelihood of aggression resulting from anger increases with the level of emotional attachment someone experiences to a specific situation. Aggression can be expressed at loved ones, friends or opponents; through either verbal arguing or physical violence, or in some situations through both verbal and physical abuse.
Positive Feedback and the Animosity Cycle
Aggression is habitual in human beings; both male and female, and although expressed to different degrees and forms depending on the sex, it will still illicit unwanted consequences due to its anti-social nature. The use of aggression in a dispute rarely results in a satisfactory resolution for either parties.
The level of feedback received by the antagonist (primary aggressor) from the victim will dictate the volatility of the Animosity Cycle. This is called a Positive Feedback Cycle although it is not desirable in a social context.
Perhaps the most significant problem with aggression is that most people will try to control the situation by responding in a similar manner and to the attack being experienced. This results in the escalation of an Animosity Cycle i.e. a heated argument where neither party is able to rationally detach themselves from a standpoint.
The Animosity Cycle is most likely to result when the natural inclination for people to express anger through aggression towards another person; either verbal or psychological results in the victim reciprocating with a similar degree of aggression.
Fighting back in the same manner as what your are being subjected to is what will perpetuate a cycle of aggression. Aggression will usually escalate when one or both parties are unsatisfied with an outcome.
How to Notice Unhelpful Thinking
Unhelpful Thinking often occurs before or during distressing situations, prolonged stress or pressure, during times of significant change in your life, or for no particular reason at all. Once you can notice these unhelpful thoughts, this will help you to challenge or distance yourself from those thoughts, and see the situation in a different and more helpful way.
The most important thing for addressing Unhelpful Thinking is to identify when you are actually thinking in an unhelpful manner. In order to identify when your thinking is not contributing positively to your situation you need to know what constitutes Unhelpful Thinking. When you can identify what an unhelpful thinking style is you will start to notice when you are doing it.
There are many particular Unhelpful Thinking Styles but the more common ones are listed here at Unhelpful Thinking Styles. They are classified according to the dominant process involved in the thinking style, be it Predicting Outcomes, Focusing on Past Memories, or Catastrophising.