Do You Know The Difference Between Healthy Anger And Narcissistic Rage
Most people believe that anger is inherently toxic or harmful. And that is not true. Anger is our natural reaction to something that is not right. Our bodies instinctively respond to someone trespassing on our physical, emotional, or mental boundaries. It is situational, occurring when needed to fend off a threat and then subside.
Healthy anger can motivate us to fight injustice or protect our children like a mama bear. It can push us to leave unhealthy relationships.
It is not a performance or an excuse for revenge. It is not blind rage or resentment or spite. On the contrary, healthy anger is there to warn us what isn’t suitable for us.
However, if we were raised by emotionally unavailable parents like an alcoholic or gambler or had intimate relationships with those who used narcissistic rage to control us, we quickly learned to suppress our healthy anger to secure our attachments to survive. As a result, their explosive outbursts continue to terrify children and partners alike and do not resemble healthy anger at all.
Narcissistic rages include:
- Screaming and yelling to control others’ behavior
- Sudden fits of anger for no reason
- Inability to control rage
- Inflicting intentional harm on others, verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual
- Rage when not given the attention they feel they deserve
- Sarcasm to inflict pain
- Verbally cutting people off as a means to protect their self-esteem
And unfortunately, our society rewards partners and children who sacrifice their needs to keep their families peaceful.
For example, divorce is frowned upon in many communities, even when abuse is rampant, and people are punished for speaking out or expressing anger. As a result, many women toe the line, becoming self-sacrificing martyrs, victimized by the very religious beliefs that claim to support them. Their forgiveness gives their abusers a carte blanche to continue hurting them.
So what happens to people who repress their healthy anger?
- It hurts their ability to name and stop abuse or maintain self-protection.
- Programs them to deny their emotions and become the ultimate people pleasers.
- Forces them to justify one’s existence by doing and giving to others.
- It compels them to have an automatic concern for the emotional needs of others (including their abusers) while ignoring their own needs.
- It takes them away from their authenticity.
- And worse, it sets up the inflammatory genes in their bodies when people feel threatened or insecure over an extended period.
In my life, I have witnessed numerous spouses and children pacify their husbands, fathers, wives, and mothers to keep the peace, only to suffer severe illnesses later. Several studies show how our inability to say no and to protect ourselves from chronic emotional stress lead to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, ALS, fibromyalgia, and others.
Anger is not just healthy; it helps us identify what triggers us when people cross our boundaries.
Instead of tolerating situations that constantly stress us, saying, “it’s not so bad,” or “I don’t want to cause trouble,” practice giving your anger space. Even just saying, “I don’t like this,” or “I don’t want this,” is a promising step in asserting yourself and learning what you need.
Worse, if the abuse is from a spouse, it teaches our children to disrespect us. Finally, if it is from our parents, our siblings will continue scapegoating and ignoring our needs.
After witnessing our parents’ or partners’ rages, saying no becomes a hurdle because we are afraid of the consequences these people will inflict. We then are manipulated into never expressing our feelings or wants.
Begin taking baby steps to give your own healthy anger space.
- If you agree to do something, watch to see if you have a physical or emotional reaction — anxiety, fatigue, or resentment.
- Notice if you continue rationalizing someone’s poor behavior and how you feel afterward.
- Watch if you go out of your way to people please to avoid conflict.
- Keep a journal of your emotions.
But remember, guarding our emotional boundaries and accepting our anger is imperative for physical health.
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