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How can the person I am angry with not be responsible for my anger?

Jacob Teitelbaum
Integrative Medicine
Although all our feelings are totally valid, they often have little or nothing to do with the person we think we are feeling them toward. More often, what has been called the 90/10 rule applies. This rule recognizes that when we have strong feelings (hurt, rage, or abandonment), 90 percent of the intensity is usually coming from things that may have happened decades earlier, while only 10 percent has to do with what is happening now. The current event simply triggered the old feeling. Most of us have old issues. As is common, for me, my key issue was feeling inadequate and having an immense need for approval. In addition, out of fear of not having control over our lives, we worry about things that are not real. We often play out scenarios in our mind where other people say or do things that are hurtful. We forget to realize that this all happened in our imagination and then find ourselves angry at the other person. Meanwhile, that person may have only been thinking kind things about us. The anger is valid (we are angry because we think we do not have control of our lives), but the other person may have little or nothing to do with it.
Three Steps to Happiness! Healing Through Joy

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Three Steps to Happiness! Healing Through Joy

Happiness is our natural state of being. It is who we are. This happiness is obvious when you look at little children before they take on society’s beliefs. Their natural state is to feel all of...

There are three questions to answer 

  1. What is anger?
  2. Where did the feeling come from?
  3. Why did it show up now?
What is anger?

Answer: It is a feeling. Who is feeling it? You are. Therefore, anger is... YOUR feeling.

Where did the feeling come from?

Answer: Somewhere inside you. Therefore, the driver or origin of the feeling is... YOURS too. YOU called up the feeling in response to this situation

The most important question is WHY did YOU call up YOUR anger at this moment?Anger is an emotional response to feeling out of control. Something this person said or did triggered you to feel out of control. To answer this question you need to step into your investigative journalist mode (often called the witness or observer)

Answer: who, what, when, where & why

  • "Who does this person remind me of from my childhood?"
  • "What did I think I could not control in that moment?"
  • "When did I feel this way in similar situations?"
  • "Where was I the first time I ever felt this way?"       
  • "Why did I feel out of control in this situation?" 

Many times, when you feel out of control, you are recalling an earlier time, as a child when you did not have control of the situation. Now, you are an adult, with full control of your thoughts, feelings & choices. Yet, this person may have triggered a memory of a time when you felt vulnerable and unable to respond, often, in relation to a parent or guardian.

You might find a counselor or coach can help you identify the answers to these questions at first. Once you learn the skill of taking responsibility for your reactions, you will be on the road to feeling less stress and experiencing better relationships!

If the other person truly was responsible for how you felt, there is nothing you can do about it. The good news is ... being responsible for your feelings is the way out. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.