Anger vs. Abuse

Has anyone ever said to you “can’t I even get mad?” Have you ever said that to someone else?

Well, is it OK to be angry?

There is such a thing as a healthy expression of the emotion of anger, and something that seems like anger but is really just abuse.

Dr. David Richo shares excellent guidance in his book, How to Be an Adult in Relationships, about many aspects of what healthy relationships do and do not look like.

The following summary, from Dr. Richo may be extremely helpful to anyone that is experiencing anger in their life.

 

True Anger
Abuse: The Shadow of Anger

Authentic self-expression: the hero’s way
Theatrical display: the villain’s way

Is always mindful [Conscious]
Is ego-driven and caught in mindsets [Unconscious]

Expresses a feeling
Becomes a tantrum

May be expressed with a red face, excited gestures, and a raised voice
May be expressed with a red face, menacing gestures, expletives, and a screaming voice

Is a form of assertiveness that shows respect
Is aggressive, an attack

Shows tough love that enriches or repairs the relationship
Explodes in rough and damaging mistreatment that endangers the relationship

Arises from displeasure at an injustice
Arises from the sense of an affront to a bruised, indignant ego

Focuses on the injustice as intolerable but reparable
Focuses on the other person as bad

Informs the other, creates rapt attention, draws a mindful response
Is meant to threaten the other and drives him or her away

Is meant to communicate, to report an impact
Is meant to silence, intimidate, put down, bully, or dump

Desires a response from the other but does not require one
Insists the other acknowledge how right or justified one is

Asks for change but allows the other to change or not (desires change)
Masks or expresses a controlling demand that the other change (demands change)

Asks for accountability and amends
Blames the other* and takes revenge

Is about this present issue and is expressed freshly from incident to incident
Is often a build-up of past unresolved issues and displaced rage, gathering intensity from incident to incident

Is always direct
Is often displaced

Has some perspective, can distinguish between minor and major issues
Is trapped in the heat of the moment & explodes vehemently no matter how minor the issue

Relates to the feeling
Is possessed by the feeling

Coexists with other feelings
Occludes other feelings

Takes responsibility for one’s own distress
Diverts the blame for one’s distress onto the other

Is nonviolent, in control, and always remains within safe limits (manages temper)
Is violent, out of control, derisive, punitive, hostile, and retaliatory (loses temper)

Releases lively energy and leads to repose
Derails lively energy & creates continuing stress

Is brief and lets go with a sense of closure (a flare)
Is held on to as lingering resentment, hate, grudge, or bitterness (a smoldering fire)

Includes grief and acknowledges it
Includes grief but masks it with feigned invulnerability or denial

Believes the other is a catalyst of anger
Believes the other is a cause of anger

Treats the other as a peer
Treats the other as a target

Originates in and fosters a healthy ego
Originates in and perpetuates an arrogant ego

Aims at a deeper and more effective bond: an angry person moves toward the other
Wants to get the rage out no matter who gets hurt: an abuser moves against the other

Coexists with and empowers love: fearless
Cancels love in favor of fear: fear-based

These are all forms of addressing, processing, and resolving.
These are all forms of avoiding one’s own grief and distress.

 

*Blaming (from the Latin word for blaspheme) differs from assessing accountability:

  • Blaming is censure with an intent to shame, humiliate, and show that someone is wrong.
  • In assessing accountability the intent is to right a wrong and restore a balance.
  • In mindful adult living, no one is to blame and everyone is accountable.

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Coach Michele

Executive Life Coach at My Life Coach
Michele Caron, Certified Professional Coach and Master Business Coach, Creator of MyLifeCoach.com.

Michele specializes in working with high performers desiring better, easier results and greater fulfillment.

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AboutCoach Michele

Michele Caron, Certified Professional Coach and Master Business Coach, Creator of MyLifeCoach.com. Michele specializes in working with high performers desiring better, easier results and greater fulfillment. Learn more about coaching with Michele here: Life, Career and Executive Coaching with Coach Michele Coach Michele on Facebook Google+

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