About Randi

Randi Kreger has brought the concerns of people who have a family member with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) to an international forefront through her best-selling books, informative website, and popular online family support community Welcome to Oz.

 
 

Is Your "Guilt "Really Anger?


Doing research for a new book involves a great deal of reading. As I go over material for my new book for partners of high conflict people (HCPs, many of whom have borderline or narcissistic personality disorder) I am finding much material on anger. Not just the anger of people with BPD, but our own anger.

As it turns out, we have a lot of trouble with anger. It may threaten us because anger is a vital signal that something needs to change. And change is scary.

In one of my very favorite books, The Dance of Anger, author Harriet Goldhor Lerner writes:

 

As with depression or feeling hurt, we may cultivate guilt to blot out the awareness of our own anger. Anger and guilt are just about incompatible. If we feel guilty about not giving enough or not doing enough for others, it is unlikely we will be angry at not getting enough...Nothing, but nothing, will block the awareness of anger so effectively and self-doubt...It is not easy to gain the courage to stop feeling guilty and begin to use our anger to question and define what is right and appropriate for our own lives.

Just at that point when we are serious about change, others may redouble their guilt-inducing tactics. We may be called selfish, immature, egocentric, rebellious, unfeminine, neurotic, irresponsible, ungiving, cold, or castrating....How tempting it may be to shuffle apologetically back to our "proper place" to gain the approval of others.

The author is writing about women, but from what I see, many men are also afraid of their own anger. They see it as a bad thing that shows they are inconsiderate and insensitive.

It is possible to handle our anger and be true to ourselves without blowing others away with the force of our feelings. It has to do with being assertive, not aggressive, and talking about our true feelings. That isn't easy when someone in your family is an HCP. They will immediately turn it against you. That is what they do.

When others turn on the screws to try to turn us away from healthy change, stand your ground. Don't be afraid of the word "selfish." If someone uses it to describe you when you're taking care of yourself, it may mean you're starting to do the right thing.

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