May 16, 2023


3 – Part Series on Anger

Part 2

In Part 2 of my 3-part anger series I want to expand on how we rationalize angry outbursts in our lives. I was once asked in my trauma group, “But isn’t there such a thing as righteous anger?” When I asked the client to expand on what he meant, I realized he was just trying to justify an angry outburst that far exceeded what one would have expected in that situation. He was looking for me to validate that his outburst of rage was okay. Of course, it was not, and if I agreed with him, then he would not have to look any further for the real cause.

I guess we all can pretty much justify any angry outburst by stating you were defending yourselves or you were provoked. My concern with this attitude is it’s aimed outward and for you to internally grow, it must be inward. Anytime we are triggered to an angry outburst it’s an opportunity to learn more about ourselves. The issue lies within to resolve.

Anger is a great teacher of our psyche. It’s our body’s thermostat, so to speak. It measures our level of guilt and/or shame regarding our past life events and our behaviors toward others, and how these behaviors relate to our present situations. It also measures our internal security or levels of insecurity.

In part one I identified the two things that fuel rage: shame and guilt. They are the culprits that feed our anger. When you add insecurity with shame and guilt, it can take it to another level of rage. If we feel someone has done some wrong to us, we strike. If we feel we have done something wrong, we may cover it and strike. If we feel we should’ve done something different, we strike. The shame or guilt we may feel does not have to be based on the truth, you just have to believe it.

So how does insecurity relate to our angry outbursts? I have always believed the more insecure we are about ourselves, the more vulnerable we are to angry outbursts. A perfect example is when we go off on a loved one for no apparent reason. It could be over something very trivial, like making a wrong turn in a car and suddenly your loved one jumps all over you. Another example could be the guilt you felt about not sharing a secret with a loved one, only to find they have also been secretive about something, you go off.

Relationships are a great indicator of how secure you are. Sometimes, this translates to poor communication and the handling of feelings you are not sharing with your partners. When you begin to screen your communications with loved ones, you will begin to regret, or feel guilty about not saying how you felt about something. This restraint can easily cause guilt feelings and lead to an angry outburst over the most insignificant events. The more insecure you are, the greater the guilt and the outburst may be.

The last examples I have used repeatedly in my groups. Many of us have had relationships that began with great passion and love, only to turn to anger and sometimes hatred/rage when they have ended. Or you have had multiple breakups over and over again. If you analyze the progression of those relationships, you will learn that somewhere before the end you were holding back feelings that may have reflected a loss of passion, or loss of interest and were just delaying the inevitable. You may have known 6 months prior that it was over but felt guilty ending it. These examples reflect the impact shame and guilt have on us.

Anger is not an attractive emotion. Rage is certainly not an acceptable emotion in any form. There is no such thing as “righteous anger.” There is just anger, and it will eat you alive if left unchecked. If you suffer from angry outbursts, look within for the answer and you will learn the issue is yours, not others. The more you educate yourselves about self-awareness, the more secure you will become. The more secure you become, the less likely you will be to fall victim to shame and guilt. The more you resolve past issues, the closer you will get to reaching an inner peace.

For those that do not have a problem with anger, I say “Bravo,” and keep up the great work!

Mind, Body, Spirit…Balance!

Vinnie Strumolo, CEO, CCO, LMFT