Anger and Disrespect

Out of my work with all the anger management clients, I am told that “being disrespected” is the number one thing that makes them angry. This makes sense. Who would not be angry with being disrespected?

Here is my question: What does it mean to be disrespected. My clients have a variety of answers for this one. I do not think there is any one consensus on the definition of “being disrespected.” It is a feeling that people get and they know it when they see it. Since this feeling is rather subjective, I want to point out that there is a great possibility that its the person’s thinking that is causing them to feel disrespected, even when there is truly no disrespect.

A person often feels disrespected when, for example, their child does not do as they are told. However, does the child say, “I want to disrespect my parent by not doing as I am told.”? I really doubt that. The problem here is the parent views the behavior as “disrespectful,” instead of seeing that there may be many reasons the child does not do as he/she is told (because they simply don’t want to do it, they have ADHD, they have some strong negative feeling and so on).

I encourage my clients to look at the actions behind another person’s “disrespect.” A lot of people behave in a “disrespectful” manner because they are scared, they are trying to look tough to cover insecurities, they are blind to their own behavior, or they are simply angry in general.

If you immediately tell yourself that you are being disrespected when a person does not behave the way you want them to, remind yourself that you are jumping to conclusions and then think about the alternative reasons the person is acting that way. Few people make it a goal to disrespect others.

Anger Iceberg

Anger is like an iceberg. There is that tip that is sticking out, which everyone sees. So, it is not difficult to see when a person is angry. However, Icebergs have about 90% more to them that what meets the eye. Anger is the same way.

Anger is the symptom. Symptom of what? Well, it is different for each person. Many people’s anger iceberg includes fears, insecurities, bottled up frustrations, hurt pride, feelings of disrespect, and various other emotions.

Given that it is usually quite easy to see a person’s anger, but difficult to see the rest of their anger iceberg, the task of helping a person reduce his or her anger often takes a bit of detective work. The best way to control a person’s anger is for them to ask “What is making me feel this way?” When the person examines his or her feelings causing the anger, then the problem can be addressed. If there is simply a focus on deep breathing, counting to ten and meditation, this will only treat the symptom and is doomed to fail in the long run.

Here are some quick one liners that a person can repeat to reduce anger:

  • Will [whatever makes me angry] matter one year from now? Will it matter one week from now?
  • What right do I have that is being violated?
  • How would the average person respond to this?
  • How is getting angry about this really going to change anything?
  • Other than anger, what else am I feeling?
  • What belief do I have that is making me angry? Is that belief reasonable?

Trying Too Hard?

MANAGE your anger. CONTROL your anxiety. STOP having panic attacks. FIX the relationship.

All of these are great ideas and actually work for a large percentage of people. However, for some, the more they emphasize on attacking the problem, the worse it gets.

How can this be? You have to take the bull by the horns, right? Well, most of the time you do. But not always.

There really is such a thing as trying too hard. Yes, believe it or not! Sometimes, I urge people to accept the feelings they are having. There can be a lot said by admitting that you are really nervous, angry, sad, or upset. Giving yourself permission to feel these things can actually help these unpleasant feelings pass.

The next time you have an unwanted feeling, try to stay with it for a bit and see what happens.

Anger as Energy

Anger is energy. Are you going to use your anger productively or destructively? You can do a lot of positive things with your anger…stand up for yourself, challenge unfair laws, or express your anger with a person/situation in a reasonable manner.

Do Disrespectful People Make You Angry?

The feeling of being disrespected is one of those things that often enrages people. Who has any tolerance for being disrespected? I hope no one does, actually. Willingly subjecting yourself to disrespectful people can cause plenty of problems, such as poor self esteem and bottled up anger.

However, jumping to conclusions that you are being disrespected (when you are not) can cause plenty more problems.

Here is my question: What does it mean to be disrespected? Many people have a variety of answers for this one. Therefore, I do not think there is any one consensus on this definition. It is a feeling that people get and they know it when they see it—at least that’s what they think. Since this feeling is rather subjective, I want to point out the great possibility that its the person’s thinking that is causing them to feel disrespected. This is often the case when the other person means no disrespect. Therefore, I urge everyone to step back and ask why they are having these feelings.

A person often feels disrespected when, for example, their child does not do as they are told. However, does the child say, “I want to disrespect my parent by not doing as I am told.”? I really doubt that. The problem here is the parent views the behavior as “disrespectful,” instead of seeing that there may be many reasons the child does not do as he/she is told (because they simply don’t want to do it, they have ADHD, they have some strong negative feeling and so on).

Another person might feel disrespected when she is cut- off in traffic. She might say, “I can’t believe how inconsiderate that idiot is!” This kind of thinking starts road rage incidents everyday. However, if she were to take a step back and think about the situation, there is a fair chance that he did not see her because of a blind spot in the mirror, or he was distracted by his young child. Yes, it is also possible that he cut her off on purpose, but this is rarely the case.

The number of explanations for “disrespectful” behaviors are numerous. everyone to look at the actions behind these behaviors. A lot of people behave in a “disrespectful” manner because they are scared, they are trying to look tough to cover insecurities, they are blind to their own behavior, or they are simply angry in general.

If you immediately tell yourself that you are being disrespected when a person does not behave the way you want them to, remind yourself that you are jumping to conclusions. Think about the alternative reasons the person is acting this way. Few people make it a goal to disrespect others.

Here are some quick one-liners that a person can ask themselves in order to reduce anger:

  • Will (whatever makes me angry) matter one year from now? Will it matter one week from now?
  • What right do I have that is being violated?
  • How would the average person respond to this?
  • How is getting angry about this really going to change anything?
  • Other than anger, what else am I feeling?
  • What belief do I have that is making me angry? Is that belief reasonable.
  • What is really causing this person to behave in a matter that makes me angry?