Is Your Anger a Projection of Unresolved Depression?

It makes sense that many people do not want to feel sadness because it hurts inside. It is also widely known that if they are unable to deal with their pain and depression, what comes out instead are angry actions or words, and the target is usually someone they love. This is called negative projection.

The difference between anger (a symptom of depression) and other feelings is that, when you’re angry, you may have the impulse to hurt others. To heal, it helps to understand that most anger is based in some kind of deep resentment at being hurt. 

We all have a responsibility to take care of ourselves without hurting those we love. As bizarre as it sounds, sometimes we want to hurt the ones we love because they are the ones who can hurt us the most. I’ve heard couples in therapy say, “The reason I hate you so much is because I love you so much.” 

Anger comes in overt and covert forms. One way covert anger hurts us is by subconsciously directing us to relive old painful memories. For example, if a woman has been hurt or ridiculed by her father or her brother and doesn’t deal with it, she will find a man who will treat her the same way. 

In relationships, covert anger hurts the ones we love because when a person is being distant or withdrawn, the partner feels it. If we pull away from our partners, it hurts them. Feelings like this need to come out and be dealt with so they can heal. Behaving in a manner that makes someone you love feel as bad as you do is not constructive; it’s destructive and everybody loses. 

If you release anger in an unconscious or passive-aggressive way (like being continually late for dinner or not responding to your partner romantically) you don’t really let it out. 

Unfortunately, adults can turn their rage inward and act it out with anger. Anger pushes away those who love you and that diminishes the depth you can have in a relationship. 

• It’s actually healing to tell someone you love how you really feel, rather than holding it in. It’s much easier than lying to yourself or trying to manipulate your partner. You are living a dishonest relationship when no one knows what the real feelings are, and relationships can’t survive in a sea of dishonesty. 

• How do you deal with someone who holds his or her anger in or acts it out covertly? You can’t point out to them that they’re angry; they won’t believe it. Instead, give them clear boundaries; for example, if they are always late, you can say, “If you’re more than 20 minutes late, I’ll start dinner without you.” 

• If your partner is withholding affection and attention, you need to communicate that you understand he or she is angry and that you are willing to discuss it and are willing to make appropriate changes if necessary. 

• If you can’t talk about it without it escalating into a fight, you need to see a qualified therapist. The therapist’s job is to create a safe place for clients to express their feelings and explore their destructive impulses. 

A final note: If there is ANY sign of violence, you must protect yourself and your loved ones by getting help, even if that means calling the police. This may be scary because of the possible repercussions, but the alternative can be a lot more devastating. 

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