What wrong must I have done to you to make me feel so angry with you?
If your first reaction to this sentence is to stall for a moment to decipher it’s meaning, you have a lot of company.
It goes against a lot of what you were taught to believe: that you get angry at someone because they did something bad to you.
Although that can be true, this other dynamic of Anger is true at least an equal amount of the time.
Use it as an inquiry into situations you feel anger toward someone. Look particularly at anger that seems to be “floating”, that is, you notice it is there but you can’t quite put a finger on why you have it.
This is a common kind of anger and it’s the kind that weakens you immensely.
To understand this, we tell a story …
A young man ordered a product for his child and mistakenly had it sent to his parent’s address, where he had previously been renting. It was his error and he wanted to get his stuff quickly, so he called his parents to get the new tenant’s contact information.
A property manager was in charge of all communications with the tenant, so he was given her contact info. The parents also gave the manager a call to put her on notice that she’d be contacted by their son. As far as the parents were concerned it was “case closed”….no problem!
In a little while the son called up and was extremely angry because he hadn’t heard from the property manager. Accusations and obscenities were hurled at the parents. Oh, how they were #$(%*^# for not making it happen the way he thought it should. It should have been easy; not so inconvenient to him. The son slammed down the phone…
…Unbeknownst to all, the property manager had gone into hospital for an emergency operation. When she got back to work the situation was handled promptly and smoothly.
Now, what could have happened at this point is that the very big misunderstanding could have been recognized, acknowledged – even laughed at.
It did not go that way and, yes, there is probably more going on in this relationship than meets the eye, but here’s what happened….
The son has not spoken to his parents since he aggressively insulted them and hung up the phone in a rage. It has been two years since they’ve spoken and there seems to be no light entering the relationship.
The anger that is playing out in the scenario above is this kind of anger. It’s rather blatant in this case but, to be sure, it can be much more subtle than this.
Are you angry toward anyone in order to cover up the feeling of guilt for something you did?
Is someone angry toward you in order to cover up a feeling of guilt for something they did to you?
Unfortunately, this dynamic can go on for years. The anger never seems to go away and a person can spend a long time cooking up evidence to support why they are angry.
Rather than take responsibility for their actions and facing the pain and guilt that may come along, people will take bitterness and anger to their graves. Guilt becomes deeply buried – forgotten (but not really!) – and is replaced by on-going, “low grade”, irritation and anger.
Focused inquiry and expert coaching or therapy can reveal the patterns that are really going on. The clarity, growth and release of this entangled energy can come quickly and be a source of great inspiration.
This is a type of anger that weakens you. It weakens you because you are making someone else responsible for your guilt. You lose energy because it is being spent on anger as a defense against the consequences of your actions.
To turn this anger into generative energy requires a willingness to be vulnerable enough and uncomfortable enough to own your mistakes.
There may be a voice in your head that says it’s risky or you’ll look foolish if you admit a mistake. But that is a lie that both keeps you inactive and suffering.
If someone is angry like this at you, there frankly isn’t too much you can do except not be angry back.
If it is you, however, who is angry like this and you see yourself wrapped up in this dynamic, is it time to begin the journey of resolution.
Your heart is calling you to come into alignment and integrity with yourself.
Here are three steps you can take:
1. Recall DSM Insight #1: This is What Love Looks Like In This Moment.
Though you have cornered yourself with funny logic, the attitude you long for is one in which Love prevails. Accept that even in this circumstance Love wants to find a way to be expressed.
2. Summon Courage
Summon courage to be responsible for your part. You cannot do this without the bravery it takes to face guilt and pain.
Authentically find the way that you respect and honor the one (or those) you are angry at. This may be the hardest part and you may need a trained person to help you.
Our final word on this is a reminder that this is entirely an inner game. You may or may not have the opportunity to say what you need to say directly to a living person. The person you are doing this anger toward may be long gone from this earth.
There is magic in the fact that it does not matter if they are alive or dead. You can find personal peace, freedom and power when you take charge of clearing this type of anger.
In the next articles we will look at other types of anger; there are more that weaken you, but there is also anger that makes you strong!