5 internal contributions to anger

1-Self-esteem

People who try to be self-sufficient are easily frustrated and angered when they see evidence of their dependence on others. They get angry at themselves for needing others and they get angry at other people for “keeping” them in this weakness.

2-Desire for Power in Relationships

Some people feel threatened by the need to give up power in love relationships. For instance, a batterer may use anger to intimidate others in a quest for power. It’s a way to caution the abused person against using their own power. To avoid rousing their anger, spouses end up tiptoeing around the other to avoid confrontation because the price is too high to pay.

3-Desire to be Perfect

Unrealistic standards must be met for the person to feel worthwhile and accepted.

Whenever there is a perceived loss of perfection, the person becomes depressed (angry with themselves) for small failures. The student who gets a B-plus instead of an A, etc. These people also set up high standards for others to achieve and are quickly judgmental. They are hurt by others who do not join them in the quest for perfection. Even though they may be chronic confessors, but growth comes slow because they don’t want to accept their limitations.

4-Guilt

Unresolved guilt can lead to irritability. People have trouble admitting their faults.

5-Rejection

Rejection leaves people feeling hurt and worthless. When significant others disdain our contributions or act as if we are inferior and unimportant we bolster self-esteem by rejecting others ourselves, using the weapons of anger and hostility.  Since it does not heal the relationship or self-esteem, it is a temporary fix. 

Taking the Abuse

When someone stays in an abusive situation, there must be a measure comfort in that identity for the victim. The abused, in effect, says to themselves, "I know what to do when playing this role." To become someone different means acknowledging there is a choice--and with that realization comes the uncomfortable recognition of responsibility.

A victim may tell themselves, “At least in the abusive situation I know the old pain and its ways."  Moving toward change means stepping into the unknown. Fear can freeze the victim into making no decision, defaulting to the status quo, keeping the situation the same as it has always been.

Perhaps the abuse fits some part of how they have chosen to define themselves. To choose not to be abused means redefining the identity. In the end, some people would prefer to keep the painful but familiar abuse rather than entering a new kind of pain--one that accompanies building a new identity.

Victims who choose to no longer be victims take an heroic step. It's an empowering choice--and only those who have made a similar decision can fully grasp its breath and courage.

Stephen Goforth

Let go of those who are already gone

The sad truth is that there are some people who will only be there for you as long as you have something they need. When you no longer serve a purpose to them, they will leave. We rarely lose friends and lovers, we just gradually figure out who our real ones are. So when people walk away from you, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you. It doesn’t mean they are bad people; it just means that their part in your story is over.

Marc &  Angel Chernoff

emotional blackmail

When someone attempts to make you responsible for their feelings, they are committing what psychologists call emotional blackmail. A parent uses this when he or she tells a child, "You've hurt me so much" or when a spouse says, "You hurt my feelings."

It is placing responsibility for their emotional outcome on you--pretending you have control over something you do not. The parent may choose to become angry or sulk or become bitter or irritable toward the child. Someone may claim your action justifies their emotion. But that person is still doing the choosing of their own emotions.

When you see a family tiptoe around the house because "we don't want to upset mother (or father)" then you have a family who has decided to make everyone responsible for a single person's feelings--taking on a burden they were never meant to carry. Each family member is responsible for his or her actions. To make preventing someone from being upset a goal is wrong.

Elizabeth Kenny once said, “Anyone who angers you, conquers you.” To allow someone else to decide how you feel is abdicating your responsibility to define yourself. Don't allow someone else to sell you on the idea that you are responsible for what they feel. And don't blackmail those around you by threatening to unleash an emotional outburst over something you are blaming them for creating.. when you did that yourself.

Stephen Goforth

setting boundaries

Many people feel that they are “people persons,” able to attract others and connect with them. At the same time, however, people persons often feel overwhelmed, anxious and frustrated about the obligations and responsibilities that their bonded relationships demand.

Setting boundaries is the primary tool for strengthening your separateness and developing an accurate sense of responsibility. The essence of boundaries is determining where you end and someone else begins, realizing your own person apart from others, and knowing your limits.

A good way to understand this is to compare our lives to a house. Houses have certain maintenance needs, such as painting, terminate control and roof repairs. If, however, we’re spending all our time putting roofs on our neighbor’s houses while neglecting our own roof or we run the risk of a leaky roof or worse by the time we get back home.

Think of all the different caring acts you performed over the last 24 hours. How many did you do grudgingly because you were under the threat of someone’s criticism or abandonment? How many did you do under compulsion because you feel guilty if you don’t keep people happy? And how many were from a cheerful heart, from the overflow caused by knowing you are loved by God and people in your life?

John Townsend

enduring mistreatment to justify taking revenge

A woman will seek psychiatric attention for depression in response to desertion by her husband. She will regale the psychiatrist with an endless tales of repeated mistreatment by her husband.

The therapist discovers that this pattern of mistreatment has existed for twenty years, and that while the poor woman divorced the brute of a husband twice, she also remarried him twice, and that innumerable separations were followed by innumerable reconciliations.

What is going on here? In trying to understand what has happened, the therapists recalls the obvious relish with which the woman had recounted the long history of her husband’s brutality and mistreatment. Suddenly a strange idea begins to dawn: maybe this woman endures her husband’s mistreatment, and even seeks it out, for the very pleasure of talking about it. But what would be the nature of such pleasure? The therapist remembers the woman’s self-righteousness. Could it be that the most important thing in the woman’s life is t have a sense of moral superiority and that in order to maintain this sense she needs to be mistreated? The nature of the pattern now becomes clear. By allowing herself to be treated basely she can feel superior.

If the world is treating us well we have no need to avenge ourselves on it. If seeking revenge is our goal in life, we will have to see to it that the world treats us badly in order to justify our goal. Masochists look on their submission to mistreatment as love, whereas, in fact it is a necessity in their never-ceasing search for revenge and is basically motivated by hatred.

M Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled

A taste for the bitters

Why do we accept bitter feelings? Why do we nourish acidic emotions and slowly allow them to eat away our attitudes, motives, and even our spirits? The bitters come in so many varieties.

There’s the I’ve-been-used-and-abused brand of bitterness that lets us stew in our own anger juices. It grows when we have no opportunity to vent these hostilities against the person who has hurt us. As a substitute, we take it out on ourselves.

There’s the everyone’s-against-me-nobody-cares kind of bitterness that grow into a full-blown martyr complex. Complete with self-pity and all the extras.

Bitterness can form from a sense of I’ve-been-neglected-forgotten-and-overlooked-a routine especially real when someone feels trapped in the house all day long with whining toddlers, endless chores, and a spouse who is out all day what appears to be an endless fascinating world.

Or it may be the blind, curse-it-all-I’d-rather-be-dead bitterness that follows tragedy, grief, or failure. We withdraw into ourselves in despair.

Our world is infested these bitters and unless we build a support system externally and internally we may find them all too often corrupting our palates so the whole of life tastes bitter.

Based on a passage from Gene Van Note’s Building Self-Esteem