NO MATTER HOW UPSETTING,
I can’t seem to make anything better
PREVIOUS: Anger Categories (Part 8)
SITE: “Righteous Indignation“
3. OTHER Anger-EXPRESSIONS (cont)
There are very real situations in life some of us have to deal with, where we are truly powerless – care-taking an elderly sick & forgetful parent, raising a disabled child, coping with a drug/alcohol addicted mate or older child, having a chronic illness…… It is exhausting, wearing down our patience. It is easy to get frustrated, irritated & then angry. This is normal, and needs to be addressed – to get regular periods of relief.
• However, there are those of us who no longer live in hurtful / dangerous circumstances, yet act as if we’re still victims – as we once were in childhood. We get angry whenever we can’t get what we want or expect. We react to everyday frustrations as if they are meant specifically for us – when they’re not. We accepted our childhood powerlessness as a permanent state, not deserving anything else (learned helplessness). So as adults we don’t have internal permission to get our needs met legitimately. (MORE….)
— This causes us to only look to others outside ourselves to provide everything we need or want, & get angry when that doesn’t happen. We don’t know or refuse to admit we are responsible for our self-care.
On the other hand many people are still genuinely trapped in situations they can’t get out of for various reasons – children in abusive homes, sex slaves, battered wives, prisoners, war refugees, living in poverty. (Image –>) A total sense of powerlessness always generates impotent anger, even fury. But without any options, eventually depression & then hopelessness take over.
Rebellion in teens is a ‘normal’ stage of development, not an indictment of their parents’ personalities or way of life. The need is to separate & individuate (S & I) from the adults, in order to develop their own Identity. It does not have to be severe or destructive. In relatively healthy families it most often shows up as contrariness – constant disagreements with parental mores & points of view. Their anger at family restrictions is a way to form necessary boundaries.
If allowed to run it’s course, young people will eventually settle into a way of life that suits them & may actually end up agreeing with the family in some basic respects.
• However, in dysfunctional/abusive families, any disagreement is seen as a threat to the whole fabric of the system (see Family Mobile, ‘B distor. #2). While one or more children will become the ‘good boy or girl”, at least one other may become the rebellious, angry ‘difficult’ one. Such children are continually punished or turned into the family scapegoat (not the same as the Scapegoat Toxic Role). It makes sense then that this child will concludee that “No one cares about me, everyone thinks I’m bad – I might as well be bad”!
As adults – Rebellious anger is most often directed at any form of authority – being sullen & withdrawn or openly defiant, joining up with other unhappy peers, & show up in all kinds of anti-social behavior. It’s projecting our rage onto others which we feel about our family’s incompetence, neglect & abuse.
a. ARROGANT – Those of us who believe we’re always correct – both for ourselves & for everyone else. This leads us to think we have the absolute ‘right’ to insist that others follow a set of rules – that are in our head. When people / groups / institutions break those rules we get very angry. Such offenders are considered bad, evil, wicked, sinful – who need to be scolded, punished, & then taught the correct way to think & act. We rant at them or about them – mostly in speech, but also in writing & even sometimes with physical violence.
• It gives us a sense of superiority because we’re convinced our anger is for a good cause – like unhealthy Ennea 1s – we’re trying to ‘clean up the world’. We don’t see that our world-view is rigid & narrow, assuming everyone is or should be just like us (narcissism), & that others have their own values & moral codes, separate from ours.
When our behavior is questioned or objected to we don’t feel guilty, but arrogantly justify it. Even if the objector apologizes & backs down right away, (although they are correct) we Righteous types may continue attacking the ‘wrong & wrong-doers’, & enjoy humiliating them for their ‘moral ignorance or laxity’.
b. LEGITIMATE – In religious terms, Righteous anger means responding in accord with divine or moral law, & a justifiable decision or action from an outraged sense of justice or morality / acting free from guilt or sin.
— More generally, ‘Righteous Indignation’ focuses on the ‘Higher or Greater good’ rather than based in self-centered motives. It comes from a sincerely desire to make the world a better place for everyone – not just ourselves. We see the injustice & evil around us & are inspired to fight for something greater than ourselves. Whether it’s a loved one or strangers in dire circumstance being unfairly treated or abused, it’s natural to feel angry, & healthy anger fuels effective action.
— It’s a reaction to actual abuse of power (something unjust, mean or unworthy), not to something that’s inconvenient, a hobby-horse (favorite annoyance we keep going on about), violations of social tradition, or paranoia
— It is part of a group of healthy qualities – such as self-control, unwillingness to do harm, good boundaries, genuine care for the welfare of others, altruism….. (minus arrogance, self-pity, hopelessness….)
NEXT: Anger categories (Part 10)