Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Am I Angry or Enraged?

I like to think of anger as a stop sign. It is a signal to us that someone or something has crossed our boundary or violated our values. If we ignore our anger and internalize it we eventually experience it coming out sidways... possibly passive aggressively, making ourselves sick, or a multitude of other avenues.

Anger is the tip of the emotional iceberg. Most of the time is it our defense mechanism rising up to protect us from experiencing deeper feelings... like fear, loss, saddness. That's why I like to call it a stop sign. If we stop and consider, why am I angry? We may get a chance to know ourselves better. We may be able to realize a deeper feeling underneath the anger and address an unresolved issue.

There is another form... rage. Rage is very different from anger. Rage is not a response to a current boundary incursion or value violation. Rage is a response to a trigger from the past. When we react toward current events with rage we are reacting to something that happened long ago that has remained unresolved.

Rage feels different than anger. It rises us from the depths of our toes, it burns like a fire, we feel it bubble and boil in our guts. Rage causes us to react with a 10 when a 2 is appropriate. Rage is a signal that we have been triggered and have an unresolved issue that needs attention.

Anger has a place in relationships. When we are angry we can take some time to think about our situation, figure out why we feel the way we do, then choose to do something about it.

Rage has no place in relationships. Rage is a destructive force that injures both parties causing resentment and bitterness over time. Rage is a form of abuse.

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