Archive for the ‘Healthy Anger’ Category

What’s the best way of expressing your anger without shame?

July 20th, 2012 No Comments

psychotherapy to manage the shame of venting your anger

 

Do you feel ashamed when you lash out at the people you love the most?

Do you wish you could erase it for ever and be free of this beastly emotion? That’s because there is a taboo against feeling and expressing anger, particularly if done in a loud, over the top and explosive way. We don’t like to think of ourselves as uncontrolled and irrational. When our hot buttons get pushed beyond what we can manage we feel scared that we have let ourselves down, that others will think badly of us and that we may never recover our good image.

 

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Do you prefer showing your anger by giving someone the silent treatment?

Now think of the time when a friend didn’t return your calls and you felt angry at being ignored. Perhaps you didn’t answer the phone when your friend did eventually call you back. You wanted to get your own back and punish your friend. It is a conscious and premeditated act of anger. Somehow this way of releasing anger is more acceptable, but not necessarily better for the relationship.

Do you let your anger stew until the moment when you can do the most damage?

Imagine the last time you pretended you had a headache when your partner reached out for physical contact, affection or sex. You may not have remembered what you were angry about anymore, but the urge to regain the upper hand led you to strike back just when your partner was most vulnerable. It stewed and frothed and fermented until just the right moment. It is fury made to smell a little sweeter to you the injured party, who needs to feel in charge again.

 

psychotherapy for problems with guilt and shame about your anger

photograph copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D

 

Do you feel better when you react to anger by laying a guilt trip on the one upsetting you?

Have you ever forgotten a loved one’s birthday or a special anniversary? Did your loved one make snide comments designed to make you feel guilty? Their anger at your lapse of memory came out in a sneaky but very effective way. It humiliated you and may have roused your anger. Laying on the guilt may have made your loved one feel superior for a little while, but making you feel small just drove a huge wedge between you.

The good news and bad news about Venting anger

Venting rage releases tension in the short term and gives you a temporary sense of power and control, but does nothing to address the triggers that push your buttons. The power and control is so short lived that you have to erupt again just to get that feeling back. So you are caught in a vicious circle of becoming enraged and trampling everything around you. You never learn how to deal with your discomfort and have to live with this monster that comes out of you every now and then. In the long run you create fear and push people away. You can end up lonely and deprive yourself of the chance to be heard and fix the problems.

Good news and bad news about taking vengeance and laying on the guilt trip

Punishing those that have hurt and upset you by withdrawing love, or piling on the guilt gives you immense power and control. The powerful feeling lasts longer than venting, and you get the pleasure of doing to others what they did to you. But the damage you do to your relationships is more serious and less easy to repair – for the simple reason that you deliberately set out to hurt in order to avenge your anger. The stress that gets put on the relationship removes layers of trust and openness.

The most productive way of expressing anger

  • The first step is to acknowledge that you have a right to feel angry. That small but vital permission will lessen the chances of your explosive monster coming out and shaming you.
  • Next, talk to the person who provoked your anger and tell them what it’s like for you when they say or do things that enrage you.
  • Then find out what the person’s intentions were and revisit your response. Are you still as angry or do you feel less personally attacked?

It may not be easy to follow these steps but you will improve with practice. Honoring your anger instead of using it to feel big or punish others improves communication and builds strong and durable relationship bonds.

 

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How To Stop Anger About Your Childhood Interfering In Your Adult Relationships!

July 19th, 2012 No Comments

psychotherapy for anger about your bad childhood west los angeles

Koren is furious that her son is being unfairly picked on

As she drove to pick up nine year old Hector from school, Koren seethed with rage. She was confronted with a complaint that Hector was suspended from after school playground access for hitting another boy. Koren was mad at the playground supervisor for believing the other child rather than her son. She was furious that the supervisor allowed the incident to occur. She was angry that her son wasn’t allowed to defend himself.

Koren zooms into a tiny part of the picture and blinds her with rage

As she talked with her son about the incident later that night Koren learned that he had been provoked by name calling. In an effort to stop the taunting Hector had elbowed the other boy who then complained to the supervisor. It was outrageous that her son was suspended while the boy who started it all got off scott free. She comforted her son by showing solidarity, loyalty and her absolute determination to take a stand. She made sure he knew that she didn’t blame him. She told him that she was going to make to right this wrong on his behalf.

At an arranged meeting with the Principal of the school Koren heard once again that her son was at fault and that he needed help to learn how to play with other kids. It inflamed her like a red rag to a bull.

 

psychotherapy for anger at having to defend yourself west los angeles

 

Koren feels personally attacked and fights to defend herself

“ My son was defending himself against a bully who was calling him names. Where was the supervisor? Why didn’t he see what was going on? If you people had been doing your job properly this would never have happened!” Koren said indignantly, laying the responsibility firmly in the school’s court.

“ This isn’t the first time Hector’s playground behavior has come to my attention. He has no idea how to socialize and I can’t take the risk of him hurting other students. You need to teach him how to behave or get him professional help,” the principal said, passing the ball right back to Koren.

“You’ve never liked my son. You’ve been complaining about him since he was in first grade. You’re always picking on him because he’s from a single parent family. I’ve taken it for long enough. I’m not going to sit by any longer and take your word for it. I insist that you bring in the other boy and get to the bottom of this!” Koren demanded.

Koren's childhood and adult rage unite to fight against injustice

Can you guess what the Principal and the Playground supervisor thought of Koren? They had ample evidence that she was irrational, a bit unstable and unable to have a reasonable discussion. They probably thought she was a weak single parent who couldn’t manage her son. By reacting with such righteous indignation Koren had created the exact impression she was most fearful of and wanted to avoid.

Koren began to have flash backs about her own school experiences. She relived the incident when she had been wrongly blamed for throwing a paper dart in English class. Her mother had been told she was insolent and defiant. Her mother never asked Koren to tell her side of the story. Her mother believed the teacher and Koren was shamed for letting the family down.

The same feelings of shame, humiliation and rage that Koren had felt at that time were washing over her now as she felt marginalized by Hector’s school Principal. As a child Koren couldn’t show or talk about her bitter disappointment and rage at not being championed. Koren was left unprotected, scapegoated and gagged.

Koren’s anger piled up. It grew and bubbled waiting for a chance to justifiably explode. As an adult she could speak her mind. As a parent she had even more right to defend her son. Now her anger burst out in full force. Once again her protestations were dismissed. Koren’s fierce insistence on being proved right fizzled into a sad and hopeless feeling. She became morose and sullen, wanting to keep her son from school rather than put herself through this ordeal again.

 

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Koren was blind to the crucial differences between herself and her son

The problem was that Koren confused her own experiences as a child with that of her son’s. Hector had a mother who listened. He got heard, comforted and understood by his parent. He was able to process his feelings in a way that was validating and educational. Koren was blind to that crucial difference between herself and her son. When she attacked the Principal she was doing so from her personal place of being unprotected and silenced. Her son didn’t need her to defend him in that manner. Koren was defending her own undigested childhood anger via her son’s school experience.

The key to Koren's emotional health is to deal with her own stuff separately from her so Koren attacked the wrong person, at the wrong time for someone else's crime. She didn’t help herself as a parent, nor did she make life easier for her son at his school. But she has a chance to minimize the fall out. Here are some steps that Koren can take to begin to separate her stuff from her son’s stuff.

Give herself permission to air her bitter disappointment and rage on her own behalf.

  • Write about it, talk to her son about her school experiences, share in parent support groups.
  • Start a dialogue with her parents about her unfinished business with them.
  • Ask herself what is the true stuff of her rage when her buttons are pushed.
  • Getting the help and support of a psychotherapist to help her bridge the gap between her childhood feelings and those of a mother would be especially beneficial.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2010.

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