Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Do you believe your loved ones when they tell you that they love and want to be with you? OR are you suspicious of their intentions when they invite you to hang out with them?
Are you constantly testing them out? Then you may have a deep sense of insecurity just like forty-year-old Mackenzie, a stock broker, who blew up into a rage whenever he thought that his long-time girlfriend Pauline was lying about her wish to marry him.
Out at a restaurant with thirty-nine-year-old beautician Pauline and their friends, he was upset that she seemed engrossed in a conversation with Mark about a basketball game. Feeling excluded and uninteresting to her, he got scared that she would soon leave him. The vision of Pauline abandoning him brought up intense anger. He goaded her all way home about her disinterest in him during the meal. No matter what reassurances Pauline offered, he was determined to make her admit that she didn’t care for him because he was so insecure in their relationship.
By the time they got inside their apartment Mackenzie was trembling with anger and fear.
“Why don’t you admit it?” he yelled, “You think I bring your mood down!”
No longer able to hold her tongue against these false accusations, Pauline snapped.
“You know what! You’re right, when you poke and prod me into not liking you, then yes, I don’t like being out with you because you have habit of destroying the nice time we had,” she yelled as she walked out, refusing to be baited anymore.
Mackenzie’s rage at being rejected and victimized made him feel even more insecure – alone, uncertain as to what would happen between him and Pauline and scared as to whether he would ever be wanted or loved again. He started texting her furiously to try to reconnect but Pauline didn’t respond. Each of his frantic texts got more desperate and insulting hoping to spark a response but all he got was a blank screen.
In several studies conducted with chronically insecure people, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, (2009) found that the tendency to get angry and enraged got higher when the feelings of powerlessness and insecurity were at their strongest.
In addition, insecure people believe that their loved ones see them as insecure and likely to leave even when their loved ones do not judge them that way. The insecure individuals then became suspicious of their partner’s authenticity and damage the relationship.
Mackenzie fits the profile that the researchers described and lost out on a warm and nurturing relationship with Pauline. The anger that stemmed from his insecurity had previously ended a gentle and affectionate relationship with Mandy some three years ago. Two years before that his insecurity based anger had killed the friendship he had with a co-worker just as it was starting to move into a romantic phase.
Angry at himself for losing control and not being able to test Pauline out anymore, Mackenzie tried to meditate and calm himself down. He hoped it would prove to Pauline that he wasn’t a monster and that he could learn to be more secure. But she didn’t want to be put through his insecure tests again and left his life for good. His anger was still there as large as life despite his meditation exercises. So he gave it up.
Disgusted with himself for being so insecure and destructive, Mackenzie had a series of hypnotherapy sessions, hoping that his insecurity and anger could be eliminated from his being, washing him clean. It worked for three months; until Mackenzie got attached to a girl he met at a friend’s party. Within a month he started to feel those familiar pangs of insecurity when she wanted time to herself or was busy with something else. At their next meeting he was irritable, angry with her for not wanting to be with him, and the taunting and testing of her commitment started.
Shocked that he was still feeling angry and insecure so soon after the hypnotherapy, he decided to try psychotherapy. He hated having to do it with every bone in his body. He just wanted to get this annoying part of him out of the way and then everything would be fine. But what he discovered was that wishing it away just made it worse and then he was filled with self-loathing.
He started and stopped therapy over and over again for the first year, until he surrendered to the fact that he couldn’t change without understanding the roots and reasons for his insecurity – and he certainly couldn’t control his anger until he understood where it was coming from.
Reluctantly Mackenzie talked about his fears growing up when he saw his parents split and come together and split again. He was never secure in his mother’s love because she beat him when she was upset with his dad. Punished as a young boy Mackenzie dismissed the scars it left trying to be strong. But now the scars were throbbing and his rage at both his parents for creating so much insecurity in his life couldn’t be contained. As his therapy progressed and he felt more compassion for himself, letting out his anger at his parents, he was freed to build a relationship with a woman. He no longer had to sabotage his romantic relationships with his insecurity and anger.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
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Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.