Anger is the one emotion that gets the least love. I am sure you have heard some of the new age fluff demonising anger: “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” – that’s one of the most popular ones.
Now let me tell you something. I have learned the most powerful lessons from my anger. And the reality is that my anger was telling me the truth. It was the wisest emotion I had. My anger was telling me how terribly toxic was my narcissistic ex, how terribly toxic was my mother and my sister. The fluffy new age part of me wanted to brainwash myself into believing that if only I let go of that anger, all would be well. This new age part of me – that was essentially the voice of my mother, my sister and my narc ex telling me that the problem was me. Of course, they were playing with me, devaluing me, covert aggressively attacking me but if I protested – it was me who was the problem. I internalised this belief, encouraged by all the new age BS that circulates online these days.
Can you really let go of anger?
I would love some new age forgive and let go believer to demonstrate how to let go of anger. It’s nonsense. It can’t be done.
Your anger is telling you that you have been or are being mistreated and you are probably not consciously acknowledging the extent of the mistreatment and therefore your subconscious mind speaks to you through this anger.
You can let go of anger as much as you can let go of pain caused by an infected wound.
Imagine you have stepped on a thorn. It is stuck in your foot. You did not remove it and the wound got infected. The wound is very painful. But instead of removing the thorn, disinfecting the wound and waiting for it to heal (which would make the pain naturally and gradually go away), you are trying to brainwash yourself into not feeling this pain. I am sorry to inform you but that is totally demented.
The pain is your body’s signal that there is something going on with your foot – there is a thorn. In the same way, your anger is a signal sent by your unconscious mind that there is a problem – a toxic person mistreating you. As much as you might not be aware of the thorn and need the pain to tell you, you might not be fully aware of the toxicity of the person – perhaps you have been so brainwashed and manipulated (which you likely were, especially if you have a narcissistic parent) that you think that all this invalidating behaviour is normal.
The pain is telling you “look, you have a thorn in your foot, take it out, take it out!” The anger is telling you “this is not right, this behaviour is not right, you have been mistreated.” The problem is that with the thorn in your foot – you look at your foot and you see a thorn. With the toxic person, it might take some time to discover what has really happened. Your subconscious mind is telling you that you have been manipulated, invalidated, demeaned, covert aggressively attacked, blamed for things you have not done, smeared, triangulated against. But your conscious mind playes a catch up and you might even need a bit of expert help to figure it out.
But for as long as you have not removed the thorn (the toxic person) from your life, the anger would remain and you should be glad that it would remain. Would you like to keep that thorn in your foot? The infection spreading, getting deeper – do you know what could happen then? You could get sepsis and die.
Be grateful to your anger!
So please, be grateful to your anger. It’s a voice of your soul trying to save your life before you get sepsis. Stop forcing yourself to to let go of it – that only equals suppression and that only leads to more hurt and no healing. Don’t let any new age ‘I know it all’ make you feel bad that you are experiencing anger.
If the new age proponent was really advanced he would ask you this question: “What did that person do that you feel so much anger? That looks like you must have been hurt a lot.”
Your anger is the only indication of the emotional wound. There is no thorn, no puss seeping from your skin. So please, be kind to that anger. Be grateful to your soul that it is sending you such a powerful signal. Stop trying to silence that signal because some manipulative new age guru who very likely is a narcissist is telling you that by having this anger you are poisoning your soul.
I am not telling you to dwell on this anger, just acknowledge its existence just like you would acknowledge the existence of the pain caused by an infected wound. Have the most sincere intention to understand where this anger comes from and what is it about. After you remove the thorn, after you learn what is causing the pain, the anger, it will disappear.
Delayed anger and covert aggressive abuse
Especially if you were subjected to covert aggressive abuse and manipulation, the type that might even mask for kind concern, you will only start experiencing this anger when you start fully realising the extent of the damage that has been done to you.
If you have been used by a malignant covert narcissist, you will only start experiencing this anger when you fully realise what has happened to you. You know that you have been fooled, right? The prince charming was false, he has always been an enemy. But you didn’t see it, you gave him your heart, your love, your time, your energy and he or she stabbed you in the back – ouch – that’s bad. How can you blame yourself for feeling anger? Stop! The anger will go away when you have learned everything.
Many of us raised by narcissistic parents were blamed and shamed essentially for that narcissistic parent’s faults and failures. Guess what? There really was a time in my life when I thought that it was right for my father to tell my to die because I was such a bad bad girl. NO! and NO again!
Anger is a beautiful emotion. It’s very empowering. It’s an active emotion. It prompts you to action. It’s the emotion that tells you ENOUGH! It’s been too much. It can’t continue! This has to stop!
I believe that a lot of positive change in the world’s history has been powered by anger – the French revolution, the suffragette movement, the fight against racial discrimination, against aggressive intruders such as the Nazi Germany – which emotion do you think was powering those people fighting against all types of injustice into action?
I bet my soul that it was anger!
But here is the caveat! You have to be careful how you use that fuel – that anger. If you are not in control of that energy, if you react to it in an automatic way, you cause yourself more harm than good.
Acknowledging anger versus stupidly acting upon anger
In this video, I have described how narcissists use your emotional reactivity as the most powerful weapon against you.
Your anger is the one emotion that is the easiest for them to turn against you.
I have described how they do it in this article about how covert narcissists make you look like crazy.
That’s why you need to develop the ability to not react to that anger. Act on it, make a conscious decision how you will act on it. Use the avenue that suits you the best to help spread awareness about narcissistic personality disorder and its effect on innocent people. But make the most effort to stop yourself from reacting. I bet you know what I mean – the narcissist is covert aggressively attacking you, demeaning you, offending you in a subtle way that no one sees as an attack. Your blood is boiling.
Develop strategies how to respond to these attacks in a safe way that exposes the narcissist. For Christ sake, don’t snap. Don’t tell them to fuck off – even though they deserve it. Because if you do that, the narcissist will start screaming that you are being abusive. That’s what they do. That’s what they excel at. And because the level of awareness about covert narcissistic abuse in the society is so low, people tend to believe the narcissists and the more emotional you get, the crazier you look … and you know where it ends.
Types of anger
It also helps to understand that there are different types and sources of anger.
The type of anger you are experiencing will largely depend on the stage of the healing journey that you are at.
People who have done very little or no work at all frequently have a lot of misplaced anger– especially those who grew up in emotionally invalidating homes and were never allowed to express just anger. If you were raised by a narcissistic parent, who was constantly violating your boundaries but would start yelling at you if you protested against the parent’s behaviour, you likely have this problem.
It was too dangerous for you to express the anger in the situation where it was created – with the parent – but the anger stayed in you. You suppressed it. Over the course of your childhood, you suppressed so much anger that it started seeping out in inappropriate situations.
Your anger would be triggered in situations that would not deserve such a strong reaction. But for your mind, those situations were safe to release some of that accumulated anger, whereas it was not safe with your parent.
This type of anger is really toxic. There is no doubt about that. You need to learn about the real origin of your anger and not be defusing it in inappropriate situations.
Voice from your unconscious mind
Then there is the type of anger which really is a voice from your unconscious mind. I learned on my recovery journey that this anger was telling me the truth. It was a very wise anger. It would keep coming into my mind in relation to the narcissistic ex. Later, I realised, that this anger was essentially telling me that I have not yet learned everything about this man. That I was not living in truth. That I didn’t understand yet fully what this man really was about. (You can check my article about the discard phase to get an idea, what I had to learn about the man I used to consider the love of my life. But at that time, I was still attached to the memory of the false self). This anger was telling me – you had been manipulated, you had been played with, this guy is mega toxic.
But obviously, me, having been brainwashed by new age ‘wisdom’ of all sorts but also by my toxic family, I would judge myself for this anger. I would be trying to let go of it, silence its wise voice and instead blame myself and think that if only I could forgive, it would all be good.
But the lesson was that I was trying to forgive without even knowing the whole truth – you see? That’s the problem. We are new age-forcing ourselves into forgiveness way too early. We don’t even know what we are forgiving and we are already shaming and blaming ourselves that we are not totally zen.
Hand in boiling water
This new-age-forcing yourself into forgiveness is essentially the same as if you were trying to brainwash yourself into not feeling pain from the thorn in your foot without removing that thorn first! Crazy! Do you see it? Instead of removing the thorn and letting the foot heal, you are popping pain killers and trying to brainwash yourself to not feel pain.
You have a hand in a pot of boiling water and you are trying to brainwash yourself into not feeling pain! Crazy! You first have to understand that it’s the boiling water that is causing the pain, then you have to remove the hand from the pot, and then you have to wait for the burned skin to heal. It’s the same with anger.
Use your anger to power the change
Finally, there is the righteous anger. That’s the anger that you feel when you finally comprehend the whole truth. You finally see how much manipulated, played, used and abused you were. Now you see the full extent of the natural disaster that ripped through your soul. It’s horrendous, isn’t it?
It’s the same type of anger you feel when you read about some horrible atrocities – murders, genocides. It’s horrible, you are outraged that such things happen. How can anyone blame you for feeling anger at the realisation of such horrible truths? In fact, if you are not feeling anger and outrage in such situations then I might suggest that there is something off with you. You are numb, desensitised, or you might even be a narcissist or a psychopath – they don’t feel empathy and they don’t feel righteous outrage.
This is the type of anger that you should use to fuel your activities that will bring about change.
Are you outraged that as a victim of covert narcissistic abuse you were only further victimised, blamed, shamed, smeared and ostracized? I don’t blame you for feeling this way. SO let’s think about what we can do about it – yes, we need to educate the world so that it STOPS. Because it has to stop. SO please, keep talking about your experiences, write a novel about it, write a song, a theatre play, donate money, persuade your school to start teaching psychology, whatever resonates with your soul.
Use this fuel to power this change, rather than wasting this powerful energy on pointless reactions that would only give more bullets to the narcissists of this world to shoot us with.
You know guys, we have a big task – to remove this massive narcissistic thorn from the foot of the world. We need to improve our surgical skills.
Anger can be a positive thing if channeled in a positive way but if it is used in a negative way such as revenge, then it can be dangerous.
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I agree, the anger needs to be channeled. What I think is nonsense is this ‘letting go of anger’ promoted by these new age people. I don’t think you can just make a decision to ‘let go’ of an emotion just like you can’t ‘let go’ of physical pain. This ‘letting go’ in my opinion equals suppression and suppressed anger, that’s the real poison that kills you. It’s been known that personalities that don’t express anger and hold it all within are more likely to develop many diseases. In my opinion this new age ‘forgive and move on’ pressure causes a lot of psychological harm.
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I think that some people put anger and resentment in the same basket, but they are two very different things. Expressing our anger is part of the healing. If i had had to repress my anger, i would not be where I am today.
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I remember my therapist asking me ‘where is the anger’ when I first came there with the apologetic, it all happened for a reason new age explanation.
So MUCH truth in this post! Thank you so much for this post. I also come from a family full of narcissists and it took me… almost 40 years to realize that (!). I always tried to rationalize and excuse their behaviour when the truth was that it was horrific and unforgivable. But even as a child, there always was that little voice of anger to tell me “no, this is not normal. what they are doing is bad and perverse”. I wish I understood it sooner or trusted my guts despite the gasligthing. And i wish I had even just one person, an adult, to protect me, to tell me “you’re right. They don’t have the right to do or says this” Alas..
But that anger subconcious and conscious has been my best fuel in life to fight for my survival, to be respected and build a life and career in spite of the sabotage and gaslight. So as an an adult I was always grateful for it.
You’re right that new age BS never rang true to my ears, it felt off… especially when it was in my abusers mouth (!) who dared to call me “difficult and ungrateful and angry”.. Yeah I should have let them hit me and worse with a grateful smile on my lips ..^^
Please know that I appreciate a lot your work and blog in my journey to recovery.
Thank you and keep the good work 🙂
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Thank you very much for your comment. Yeah, I am learning that the anger is my unconscious knowing that my conscious mind had been brainwashed and manipulated and that I was treated poorly. My conscious mind cannot see it because of all the gaslight, but my unconscious knows and communicates with me through this anger. And sometimes the anger has to get really intense because I was so brainwashed that I totally refuse to listen. I agree with what you say about having at least one adult who would be validating and nurturing. I haven’t had one either… That kind of makes you angry at the whole world sometimes…