Following on from my previous post about being afraid to feel angry in relationships and post breakup, where I explained how you may feel that anger is a bad thing, or struggle to express it, or believe that someone else’s feelings may take precedence over yours invalidating your own feelings, I wanted to open up the discussion to understanding what makes you angry and why, because it will help you deal with your anger and figure out what to do and get your power back.
Much like when we argue with someone and there’s the top level reason (what you think you’re arguing about) and the sub level ‘real’ reason (what you’re actually arguing about), understanding what makes you angry requires you to go beyond the surface reason.
Most of the time, what makes you angry in relationships is feeling frustrated that things are not going your way (out of control) and feeling unloved/uncared for and disrespected.
Being involved in dubious relationships will have you looking for love in the wrong places whilst expecting the ‘right’ things to happen, which is of course going to cause you to feel frustrated, and have you feeling uncared for, unloved, and very often disrespected, which amounts to a lot of anger, even if you don’t ‘feel’ it or ‘deal’ with it.
Looking at examples of consistent causes of anger when we have low self-esteem and get into dodgy relationships, I found that the common complaints for why we feel angry, fall into common sub groups that feed into the frustration and being uncared for and disrespected – being undervalued, having your trust abused, shame, and rejection.
Feeling frustrated and unloved/uncared for and disrespected because we’re undervalued.
Feeling unheard or ignored.
Remember all the ‘man hours’ you put in trying to get them to understand your point of view?
We believe that people who are ‘heard’ and ‘seen’ are perceived to be ‘valued’ however, often when you try to get attention and validation from people, it tends to be the type who are unlikely to ‘hear’ or ‘see’ you. Sometimes it comes down to speaking up or communicating differently to make yourself heard and noticed, but it’s also about recognising when someone is never going to value you in the way that you want to be valued and moving on to focus your energies in a more positive direction.
Failure to get validation about someone else’s wrongdoing towards you by show of remorse, apology etc.
Remember all the ‘man hours’ you put in trying to get them to feel even a teensy insy winsy bit of remorse? Remember the fantasy of them coming back grovelling and begging forgiveness?
This is seeking what we perceive as natural justice and vindication. However, you might not get that direct apology or remorse, and even then, it’s unlikely to make as much of a difference as you think. Staying angry and holding out for what you think you deserve is demoralising and energy sucking. Even worse, you’ll internalise the lack of justice and believe it’s a reflection on you. Remember, remorse and apologies are not necessarily going to happen when you expect – trust that what someone puts out, is what they’ll get back and that at some point, karma will prove to be a bitch. Move on because the fact that you’re trapped in anger and your life is at a halt, is down to you, not them.
Feeling that we’re being put down and undermined.
Remember those times when you felt about two feet tall?
Recognising that you either have to gain back your power by standing up for yourself, or gain back your power by opting out of giving someone the opportunity to put you down or undermine you.
Feeling that other people are not doing enough to change.
Remember all the ‘man hours’ you put in trying to get him to revert to the man you thought he was, or become the man you thought he could be?
Believing that people who love and value you will change for you – Being frustrated at someone’s lack of change is taking the focus off yourself and putting it on them. You’re trying to control what you can’t control. Basing your potential for happiness on someone else changing is limiting and guaranteed path to misery.
Your needs and expectations are not being met.
Remember all the ‘man hours’ you put in trying to get them on the same page in the hope of having your needs and expectations met?
Believing that people who love and value you meet your needs and expectations, even though it may not be clear what these needs and expectations are or you may be expecting this from people who are incapable of meeting your needs and expectations. ‘If they loved me, they’d know what I need and what I expect’ or ”I shouldn’t have to spell it out if they really want to be with me’. By knowing how to take care of our own needs and expectations, we realise when someone else isn’t and get out – personal security. It’s also good to communicate our needs and expectations – you can sanity check your thinking and gain assurance that the other party is on board.
The frustration will persist as long as you 1) don’t know your own value, 2) let other’s determine your value, and 3) seek validation from people who are not ‘equipped’, ‘qualified’, or ‘worthy’ of validating you.
Feeling frustrated and unloved/uncared for and disrespected because we’re our trust is abused.
Feeling taken advantage of.
What boundaries do you leave open for them to take advantage of? If you love and trust without boundaries and consequences and hope you’ll be rewarded with love, it will be abused. You are right to feel angry at being taken advantage of but you gain your power back by recognising what has been taken advantage of and recognising that it is dangerous to love and trust blindly – we must assess the risk to ourselves. The answer is not to distrust everyone out of anger because this reflects the anger and distrust you feel towards yourself. Learn from the experience and take more care of yourself.
Being taken for a fool. Being lied to. Being cheated. Being deceived.
If this happens on a habitual basis, it’s important to recognise where you are cloaking yourself with illusions. What are you denying and ignoring to stick with your illusion? What signs do you ignore? Of course it’s normal to be angry that someone has told you lies – the key is to make sure that there are consequences to the deceit for that person, and also that you don’t provide a fertile ground in the future for further lies because you’d rather stick with the illusions, not ask too many questions, avoid conflict, or avoid uncomfortable truths.
Dealing with someone who undermines what has been promised and agreed with passive aggression.
The only way to combat this is to not place too heavy a reliance on words and make sure that actions match words and that you call people on it when they renege on agreements and create consequences – it’s frustrating to continue to expect from someone who continuously backtracks and underdelivers – you are bound to be angry but it’s important to recognise that you’re setting yourself up for further anger by continuing to expect and not see them for what they are.
Feeling that you give too much – something I refer to as overgiving.
Know your value. People can’t take what you don’t give. Recognise that giving so much doesn’t yield positive results and you shouldn’t have to give so much to get people to ‘value’ you because they value you for the wrong reasons. If they give you a crumb and you keep throwing a loaf, it’s a disproportionate response – rein it back in because when you overgive, you put people on pedestals which means that they look down on you, which will anger you eventually and lower your self-esteem, which will cause you to stick around and give more and get less which will create even more anger. Stop overgiving and let life unfold because if people are dependent on taking advantage of your misguided generosity, you’ll find out all too quickly.
We feel ‘robbed’.
This is where it’s important to get real with yourself because often the anger that is held onto, where you feel you’ve been cheated and robbed, is trying to hold onto the illusion of what you thought would happen based on illusions and ignoring of red flags. Being real will help you to work through the anger, but also to see you’ve made a lucky escape.
Feeling that you’ve been treated really unfairly and that you have even been targeted, which in turn can cause you to feel like a victim, which in turn will cause you to feel powerless.
Even if you are justified in feeling that you have been treated unfairly, you will render yourself helpless if you assume the victim role and this will create a feeling of inertia. When you have a pattern of being in unhealthy relationships that diminish your self-esteem and create a lot of pain, whilst it doesn’t change the other persons poor actions, you gain back your power by understanding what your pattern is so that you don’t find yourself in the same position. Whilst it is initially painful and frustrating to know that you have some accountability, you get to put yourself back in the driving seat of your life.
The frustration will persist as long as you 1) don’t trust yourself, 2) have little or no boundaries and don’t impose limits, and 3) don’t believe that you’re someone who is a valuable entity.
Back in part two where I’ll look at shame and rejection, plus how we get angry because these experiences remind us of previous hurts and frustrations.