Don’t get mad at. Get mad that.

There is often no bad guy. Events are collisions of millions of forces that leave people hanging with intense feelings with nowhere to point them. It’s really hard to let anger pass through you when you don’t have a place to put it.

The more intense the feeling, the less helpful this post. But maybe it can be a seed.

In situations where there is clearly no bad guy, try channeling your anger into being mad THAT it happened; rather than being mad AT someone.  The anger is pointed at the event.  At the collision.

Sometimes life just freakin blows. And there isn’t a single person in the equation who would’ve wanted an event to unfold the way it did. Nobody won. Nobody’s happy. It’s an abstract concept – and certainly easier said than done – but if you can grab onto glimpses of being mad THAT it happened, maybe this can be an effective channel to release some of the feelings and free yourself up a little.

Feelings never want to stay. They are best handled when they’re welcomed (once they’ve already entered) and then shown back to the place where they entered from.  The ’empty chair technique’ is beautiful when the feelings can be channeled at a specific person and placed right back towards the person who was the creator of the disturbance for you. But it’s not always that simple. So this post is for those types of events where there’s no bad guy, no single disturber whose needs ran into yours. It is wise of you to realize it would be inaccurate to get overly angry AT anyone involved, since not a single person would’ve pre-wished and pre-created this outcome. But then what to do with your anger?

Lastly, sitting with the words, “I am so angry that this happened,” will likely encourage your system to go deeper into the sadness, which is less pointed and doesn’t get stuck as easily (we generally don’t have a wish to stab someone with our sadness like we do with our anger). Finding the softer sadness can be a little more of a landing zone with more restful spaces (though still intensely uncomfortable). It’s a little easier to be sad without a secondary urge to have to “do something about it.” There is sometimes nothing to do. Life has some brutal edges, sometimes completely vulnerable to chance. Nothing can be done. Be sad. Be mad that it happened.  These are the worst.

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About Kip Watkins, MSEd, NCC, LPC

Kip is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in Midtown, Harrisburg. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Saint Vincent College and his Master's Degree from Duquesne University. Passionate about existential and systemic modes of therapy, he completed the post-graduate program at the Gestalt Institute of Pittsburgh. He deeply enjoys his work with his clients and he also loves helping other clinicians have more meaning and joy in their work.

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