How to make friends with your anger

By Jetara Ross,

May 31, 2021

Have you ever tried to find an excuse for something you did wrong? Place the blame on somebody or something else? This is known as projection – we project our mistakes, our bad behaviour, or our undesirable thoughts and feelings onto something or someone else. It is an unconscious psychological defense that occurs to protect us and “make us feel better.”

We often project pain-causing feelings such as guilt, fear, disregard, rejection, and powerlessness, to name a few– onto another feeling that makes us feel more in control, more empowered. This feeling is ANGER!

Anger is often motivated by a desire NOT to experience these negative feelings. Think of anger as the “cover-up” feeling – the feeling that keeps our more weak, defenseless and helpless feelings away.

This is how the psychological defense of projection works – it allows us to escape distressing, shameful feelings, in order for us to cope a little better with it.

An example of this can be when your husband says that he does not like the supper you made tonight. This makes you feel humiliated, because you have just spent two hours making the supper after a long day of work. Rather than sharing your hurt feelings and risk making yourself more vulnerable to him, you turn to anger – and you project your feelings of hurt, by saying, “Well, you didn’t do the laundry when I asked you to!”

In these situations, all you are doing is projecting your feelings of hurt by trying to make him feel the same humiliation that you just felt, and by doing this, guess what! You are no longer feeling humiliated – well, at least not in the moment. YOU are in control! YOU have the power! This often results in a reaction by your husband, and so the cycle continues.

With this being said, understanding the cause of your anger is the most important step. Ask yourself: what feelings am I hiding or covering up? Are those feelings directly related to the situation? If yes – address them in a calm manner – explain to your husband – it makes me feel humiliated when you complain about the supper, especially since it required a lot of time and effort on my part and it hurts to hear you say things like that.

Or is the situation simply triggering these feelings? Often, when we have experienced a history of trauma, for example, if we come from a relationship where you were cheated on – you might be struggling with deep-rooted feelings of humiliation. The comment about the supper does not really make you feel humiliated, but instead, it triggers past feelings of humiliation that have never been dealt with and this causes you to react. If this is the case, processing those past experiences is key to help you manage those emotions.

Although anger can make us feel “in control”, it can be a destructive emotion. Learning to control our anger is not easy, but it starts with uncovering the emotions that we are trying to hide. It starts by embracing the anger. It's a healthy emotion that lets us know there's something that needs healing.

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