• Debbie Covino, PhD

Bad Thought: I’m ashamed of my anger.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently that reminded me of Carl Jung’s famous concept of “the shadow.” My friend--I’ll call him Jay--expressed to me his deep shame about the anger that regularly rises up in him whenever anyone questions his authority at work. Jay’s shame is understandable, given that anger is the most taboo emotion in our society due to its association with aggression and violence.

I told Jay that he really has nothing of which to be ashamed though: his anger has a clear cause (it’s rooted in his experiences in childhood with 2 older, bullying brothers); he doesn’t act out the anger in inappropriate ways (he mostly bottles it up and tries to get past it); and what he feels is a perfectly normal, and useful, human emotion. We all feel anger when we believe that we are being mistreated. Notice that I use the word “believe”: anger may be based on a false perception or be misdirected (Jay’s colleague may not actually be questioning his authority and/or Jay may really be angry at himself for not being the one to think of the concern his colleague raised). Whether Jay’s anger is justified or not, the idea is that anger is a normal part of the human experience.

There are of course a number of ways to consciously interact with a negative emotion such as anger, including talking to a therapist in order to question one’s perceptions and assumptions and to process old traumas more fully. But mainly I wanted Jay to realize that there’s no shame in having a negative emotion; on the contrary, anger can be an opportunity for self-reflection and personal evolution. Jung believed that we become psychologically whole only when we make our “shadow” or undesirable parts conscious and then integrate them into our total personality.

You're reading the Bad Thoughts Blog, which maintains that feeling good is as simple as thinking a better thought. I'm Debbie Covino, hypnotherapist, coach, and creator of the Master Your Own Mind self-hypnosis audio program and the All Day Hypnosis audio courses, available at https://www.hypnotic-wellbeing.com/digital-audio-programs

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