Rage! That’s different from simple anger. It is another class of upheaval. Rage is defined as “violent and uncontrolled anger.” A whole other class. And, no one needs to live with it, neither the Rager nor the recipient.
The operant difference between anger and rage is the violence and the lack of control. We all have anger, at least, I hope we do. It lets us know when our boundaries have been crossed and our needs remain unmet for too long. That’s very good information. We need it. What we do with that anger is an entirely different story.
If you experience rage within yourself and lash out, you know this is simply not good for your health, for the health of your relationships, or even for the longevity of your employment. It makes you unpredictable and unsafe to be around. You lose on all counts. And, you know that. You can stop. That’s the good news. That it takes time with a good therapist to stop makes it possible to create that good news. You might first consider taking an anger management program to get the insights and information that will help you begin to understand what’s actually going on within you. Follow that with good, consistent counseling because that is what it takes to change ingrained patterns.
Much of my private practice is helping individuals, couples and workplace teams manage anger and its effects. That’s how I know you can stop.
But, if you are the recipient of someone’s rages, you need to know a few things:
- It is likely not your fault. People who rage blame the people who they say “makes them angry.” This is just passing the buck. No one can make you angry without your permission. They are looking for a way to vent their internal rage and you’re the lucky one who is close, convenient, and, in their eyes, safe. You are safe because they think that their behavior will not make you leave them because you “understand.” You might, but, the rage has to stop.
- It is likely that they project their fears, frustrations and hurts on you. Projection means, in psychological terms, that the person denies their own unpleasant traits, behavior, fear, or feelings by attributing them to you. That way, they can blame you for all the things that they are afraid to face within themselves. If you take on what they continuously rage about concerning you, it is a mistake. They will wear down your self-esteem if you let them. Remember, if they are projecting, they are only talking about themselves, while making it seem they are talking about you. (P.S. Don’t point this out to them. It only makes them angrier. Leave it to a therapist.)
- It is likely that they are hypervigilant or hypersensitive. They are on the alert for the tiniest thing that can give them–in their own minds–a righteous reason for their rage. Sometimes even your breathing or eating will set them off. This has NOTHING to do with you. It is all what is going on inside themselves, looking for the slightest trigger for the pain they have inside themselves to find a way out.
- It is likely that you don’t have to put up with it. In fact, it is absolutely certain that you don’t have to put with it! When a Rager has no one to rage at, does s/he rage? Yes, internally. But offering yourself up as a lamb to the slaughter to allow them to externalize their rage is not your job.Simply say, “I am happy to discuss any issues we may have, but I will only do it as long as we both stay calm. If that is not the case, I will have to leave. I will be back in two hours and we can talk them or set a better time to talk.” It is always important to tell a person you care about that you will be back, however much at the time you don’t want to come back. Many Ragers think it increases their control over their victims if they leave without saying they will be back. The Rager’s first step is to learn to leave the situation with those words as well.
- It is likely that this will take much practice. How we express anger is a pattern, whether our pattern in internalizing and making ourselves sick, depressed or anxious, or raging and spilling over everyone in sight. Learning to understand the causes of our anger and better ways to manage it takes time.
If you are a Rager, or are living with a Rager, there are many ways you can change that situation. Life is too short to shorten it further by raging. It is too hard on the body. Life is also too short to live on edge, walking on eggshells, because you fear the wrath of another. Take positive steps to stop this cycle before it turns truly uglier!
RELATIONSHIP HELP: I offer counseling for individuals and couples in my office and on the phone as well as by Skype video conferencing. We have many ways to work together to put an end to rage. I also offer Anger Management Seminars by Skype video conferencing. You’ll see options in the sidebar of this page for contacting me, or do so directly by calling the Optimize Center at 760.593.4604.