How to Handle Anger from Narcissistic Abuse in a Healthy, Biblical Manner
Biblical Perspective on Handling Anger
When I learned there is a name for all of the abuse, lying, and manipulative maneuvers of my narcissistic mother, I almost immediately acquired an insatiable appetite for reading everything I could about the disorder. I was astounded that complete strangers I had never met experienced the same abuse no one ever seemed to understand. Of course, after a lifetime of invalidation, the temporarily unquenchable thirst for more makes perfect sense.
Besides being validating to learn the name of the problem was narcissistic personality disorder, it was also validating and healing to learn my narcissistic mother's maneuvers have names.
There is healing power in being able to name the problem. It helps break through the denial, clears the fog, and helps reveal the reality of the situation. Learning about these tactics can also make some of them less effective. So name your narcissistic mother's stunts.
As you learn about narcissism and manipulation tactics the realizations begin to break through the denial. The natural response is to become angry about the abuse and the injustice of it all. Then, if you haven't already, you notice another double standard. It is fine for narcissistic mother to fly into a rage, but it is not okay for you to be angry. It is especially not okay for you to be angry with your narcissistic mother.
This article takes a look at that anger in a practical manner, including what the Bible has to say about anger and how to deal with it. Also begin to absorb the idea that emotions are not right or wrong, they just are.
Resentment Dating Back to Early Childhood
Is Anger Wrong?
Many of us have the idea that anger is wrong. We receive the message many times in our lives that it is unbecoming, unattractive, or unacceptable to be angry. If our anger from a lifetime of abuse is not resolved in 15 minutes, we repeatedly receive the message that we should get over it, leave it in the past and not become bitter.
However, being angry for a season of time in order to process our anger from the narcissistic abuse is exactly what prevents us from allowing bitterness to poison our lives. While it might feel that way at times during recovery, anger is not our identity, it is a phase of the healing process.
So resist giving in to some of these beliefs and pressures about anger, which can easily result in denying and stuffing the anger. Stuffed anger is about like trying to hold a beach ball under the water. It is going to come out somewhere, and probably with a lot more force than we expect.
During the course of my recovery from my narcissistic mother, I became so angry it was almost frightening. I would say enraged more closely described my emotions when the realizations flooded in, shattering the denial that had been in place for many years. I went through a similar period of time during recovery from childhood sexual abuse. Be sure to find the support of a good therapist during this time.
At this point in my recovery, my therapist told me when it is all said and done I will truly pity my mother. Quite honestly, I thought she was either crazy or giving me way too much credit. I did not believe there was any way in the world I would ever again feel anything but rage toward my narcissistic personality disordered mother. The anger was so deep and so consuming, it felt as if it would blaze nearly out of control forever. It didn't. It was anger built up over a lifetime of abuse, so it did take some time to process. However, it did finally subside as I persisted in processing it in healthy ways.
Again, continue fully accepting the idea the your emotions are not right or wrong, they just are. In this case, your anger is trying to tell you something. You don't want to ignore that message. It is kind of like the oil light coming on in your car. The light may be annoying. And, you can pull the fuse so that the oil light stops coming on to let you know there is a problem, but you may well end up with a bigger problem by ignoring it.
The Biblical Perspective on Anger
A narcissistic mother masquerading as a Christian may love to twist this one up as another way of attempting to beat you with the Bible, invalidate your righteous anger toward her evil behavior, and usher you into depression or bitterness.
A narcissist may broadly misapply Psalms 37:8, below, to every instance of your anger, especially righteous anger rather than unrighteous anger. However, she will not apply it to her seething anger or narcissistic rages.
Christian Psychiatrist Dr. Paul Meier states the following in Free to Forgive :
Over ninety percent of biochemical depressions are caused by holding on to our anger in the form of grudges and vengeful motives. If people learned to get in touch with their anger, verbalize it and forgive the abusers of this world then over half of our psychiatric practice would be eliminated.
Anger is a God-given emotion, which is why instructions for handling it are in the Bible. First of all, there is a distinction between unrighteous and righteous anger or righteous indignation in the Bible. Righteous anger is not forbidden, but we are warned about unrighteous anger or being hot tempered.
Avoid Unrighteous Anger
Proverbs 15:18 addresses unrighteous anger by telling us,
"A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention." This is a warning that can be applied to the unrighteous anger of a hot tempered narcissist.
Psalms 37:8 addresses unrighteous anger, as well as the wrath mentioned in Dr. Meier's quote, when it tells us to "refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not; it leads only to evil."
- Refrain from unrighteous anger.
- Forsake wrath, which is rage and vengeance.
- Fret not, it leads only to evil. Fretting is "to torment; irritate, annoy, or vex, to wear away or consume by gnawing, friction, rust, corrosives, etc."
- Romans 12:19 says, Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD.
Anger from Narcissistic Abuse
Righteous Anger or Indignation
Wikipedia defines righteous indignation as "a reactive emotion of anger over a perceived injustice." It is righteous indignation to become angry when someone hurts us or someone we love in a sinful manner. God Himself expresses righteous anger. It is under control, slowly provoked and expressed legally.
Secondly, Ephesians 4:26 gives instructions on dealing with anger. It says, "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not give the devil an opportunity." This is the epitome of the Biblical instructions for dealing with anger. Righteous anger is not forbidden. It says, be angry, sin not and deal with it quickly. It is so simply stated it would be easy to overlook the significance of these instructions.
- Be angry. Feel your God given emotions in response to injustice without denying, burying and stuffing the anger;
- Deal with the anger in a healthy, controlled manner. Anger can be a signal something is wrong that needs attention;
- Deal with the anger quickly. Do not stuff your anger;
- Do not give the devil an opportunity. The mishandling of anger can open the door for many other problems.
In addition to instructions for handling righteous indignation, the Bible gives other examples of righteous indignation, which stands in stark contrast to simply being hot-tempered:
- God is angered with the mistreatment of the helpless, orphans, widows and strangers in Exodus 22:21-24.
- Jesus was clearly angry when he cleared the temple in John 2:13-22.
- Righteous men in the Bible were also angered by unrighteousness.
- Most of Galatians is Paul expressing anger toward false teachings.
Anger is a healthy, even biblical response to injustice or abuse. Besides being an indicator something needs attention, it can be a powerful motivator. The key is finding healthy ways to process our anger rather than denying or stuffing it. For example, keeping a journal is beneficial to help process anger. Exercise, go for a drive, talk to a trusted friend, punch a pillow, join a support group, see a therapist, but find healthy ways to validate and process your anger. It is validating while processing it, can motivate us to make positive changes, and is like releasing an enormous weight once it begins to subside.
So, pay attention to your righteous indignation from the injustices of your abuse, find a good therapist for support during this time if you need one, and begin processing your righteous anger in healthy ways.
© 2018 Gail Meyers