Breaking into the Three Unhealthy R’s
Rage, Revenge and Retaliation
Author: Lynne Namka, Ed. D.
The grudging ego runs the show and wants to keep you upset by focusing on injustice, hatred and how others did you wrong. The ego is a crafty thing-it can totally forget or repress what you said or did to injure the other person during an altercation. Amnesia for one’s own part of the problem allows the unfortunate inability to take responsibility for behavior change. Building the thick wall of amnesiac denial helps angry people ward off feelings of disappointment and rejection. Of course walls built of these strong emotions can keep people who might give you love away.
One person described his wall building process; “I learned to build such a wall around me so others can’t get in. My walls are titanium. Nobody gets past these solid hard walls. They keep me safe although I am lonely a lot.” A woman described her wall made of cactus which also described her personality-prickly and sharp tongued. Another man who couldn’t maintain a relationship with partners or his children said, “The hurt and grudges build up until I can’t take it anymore and I turn tail and run. I have to be a loner. I’m great at starting relationships but I wall off then lash out and can’t keep them going.”
Grudges fuel adrenalin and fan the fire of anger with beliefs that you are powerful. Self-justification and the pride of the ego at holding on to beliefs of unfairness manifest as “I’m proud about keeping my anger.” These fantasy beliefs have an addictive quality. There can be huge payoffs in self-righteous anger. There can be a consolation in whipping yourself into a self-angering hatred that you wipe out the helpless feelings of impotence. Vengeful thoughts can create pseudo self-esteem and trigger endorphins in the brain. This defense is challenging to break into because of enjoyment and feelings of prerogative and privilege that say, “I have the right to hurt someone and feel good about it.”
Hatred and revenge are defense mechanisms that are used to push down feelings of guilt and shame of things that the person did wrong and can’t address. Some hatred is shown in prejudice and bigotry where the person is envious about the skills in people of a minority group or fearful that their own privileges or jobs will be replaced.
Research shows that revenge in an attribute of power-seeking individuals who desire social dominance. They seek regained status for a slight or betrayal as they fear losing face. In this light, revenge is a thwarted attempt to shore up a feeble self-esteem. Exacting revenge is not necessary sweet as some people think. Ruminating or thinking about something does not bring relief. It can make some individuals feel worse at an unconscious level by stoking the fires of negativity. What you focus on will increase; you do create your own reality.
There are huge costs to your body which trembles with fury as you try to hold back the rage, to your self-esteem which becomes tied up in major errors of thinking and to your relationships because you can’t be fully present for those you care about. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni said, “Revenge is like a spiced mango chutney; delicious at first, it leaves your tongue stinging. How long can you enjoy the suffering of your enemy before you notice you are bleeding, too?” Raging over unfairness creates a self-perpetuating emotional bondage with the person who hurt you. Hatred chews up your central nervous system. The extreme emotions consume you. As the opening poem says at the beginning of this book, you become the skeleton at the feast. The extreme emotions are extremes of fear due to life’s injustices and in being from social groups that teach hate.
The Complexity of Big Anger that Leads to Revenge
We think of anger as one emotion, but actually it’s a catch-all reaction for many other jumbled-up feelings. The more intense emotions you carry, the more you look for reasons to be upset and guess what? What you look for you will find. In the search and watch-out mode, you narrow your attention, looking for objects of danger that may not be real. With the anger chip on your shoulder, you can misperceive neutral situations. To continue chewing on unhappy memories only leaves a bitter taste in your mouth.
We all have had experiences in life that hold the opportunity for us to become bitter or deal with the disappointment and move on. Continuing to dwell on sourness because someone wronged you creates stress in your body and upsets your brain chemistry and serotonin level. Bitter musings cost a happy life; you become ruled by your intense emotions and not by your logical mind.
Intense anger is so complex and challenging to release because there are so many other emotions that accompany it or hide underneath it. But the million-dollar questions to ask yourself are, “Do I want to be bitter or better as a result of that experience?” “Do I want to live in love or fear?” The Big Anger technique described below helps to break into hostility by factoring out the different emotions that keep the total anger load stuck. Remember the purpose in doing this exercise is to help you overcome a resentment that may be legitimate and to help you move on from your pain.
This exercise is long, but rage, grudges and hatred are layered and you are the one being hurt now by the complexity of your unresolved feelings. Its purpose is to get you back to your ‘heart of hearts’ where you can remember the truth of your innocence and beauty that was there before you were harmed. This is a great technique for couples with anger issues to do together several times. Tap together to release unnecessary resentments and anger!
Tap to Release Big Anger, Grudges and Hatred Technique
Think of a situation where you feel an injustice has been done to you that you continue to dwell on. Some value of yours was trespassed. Think of what happened and complete this sentence: “People are not supposed to _____ to other people.” There is a disparity between your belief and the reality of what happened to you. Think about your belief that “This wasn’t fair.” See the event in your mind’s eye and allow any feeling to come up. Rate the event on a scale of one to ten for distress, with ten being the highest level of being upset. Ask yourself, “Do I want to remain angry or do I want peace of mind?” Set your intention for change to release disturbing thoughts and feelings and to forgive yourself for wanting to harm someone else.
Take a deep breath after each tapping point. As you tap, notice any place where there is tenderness or pain-this may be an area where energy is stuck and you need to spend more time tapping.
Irritation and Overwhelmed: Tap briskly on the inside of your eyebrows at the bony ridge of the eye sockets above the upper bridge of your nose. Think of feeling irritated and overwhelmed by the wrong that was done to you and breathe into this area. Forgive yourself for having these challenging emotions. This is the Bladder 2 acupressure point and also an allergy point that often becomes tender in people when they are irritated.
Resentment: Think of the resentment that you feel about the injustice. Rub your temples on both sides of your head with a circular motion and then tap sharply. Think of the energy that it takes to hold onto resentment and breathe it out. The Gall Bladder Meridian that runs around the temple area and around the ears represents resentment and frustration. You are rubbing Gall Bladder 14.
Frustration: Think of being frustrated and feeling out of control about the event. Cup your fingers and tap around your ears. Think of letting go of frustration as it truly doesn’t help you. You are the one being hurt by holding onto frustration. You are tapping Gall Bladder point 8 through 12, and Triple Warmer points 18 through 21.
Bitterness and Hatred: Tap at the outside of your nostrils and breathe in deeply. Think about your inflexibility, bitterness, regret, guilt and the inability to forgive. Do not judge yourself for the mind trap you put yourself in. Forgive yourself as you have done the best you could until now. You are tapping Large Intestine 19 associated with holding on to negative beliefs.
Fear of Being Hurt Again: Tap on your collarbone and take a sharp breath and hold it for awhile before letting it out slowly. Forgive yourself for holding onto the grudge to protect yourself from being harmed again and resolve to avoid situations of harm. You are tapping Kidney 27 which holds the emotion of fear.
Feeling Stuck: Tap on the fleshy part of the back of your hand in the indentation between your thumb and index finger. Focus on holding on the grudge. Change hands and tap on the same area of the other hand. You are tapping Large Intestine 4 that helps release tough ego attachments and the fear of letting go of dogmatic thinking.
Anger: Think of what you tell yourself that causes self-angering. For example, “It’s not fair that he gets away with _____.” Go straight down your body from your nipples and tap firmly on your lower front ribs and take a deep breath. Think of anger and breathe into this point. Anger is an energy that wants to move. Forgive yourself for having angry feelings which are normal when you have been betrayed. Forgive yourself for any harm that you have done to others. This point is Liver Meridian 14 which holds the emotion of anger.
Betrayal and Injustice: Think of the belief of how you were hurt. Tap the sides of your body firmly at your waist down from the armpits on the lower ribs. We are all capable of doing things that betray and hurt others. Allow the feelings of injustice and the hurt feelings to slowly melt away. Forgive yourself for being a normal human being who wants justice to be served after being wronged. This point is Liver Meridian 13 which also stores anger.
Surprise and Shock: Tap on the inside of your little finger at the inside of the nail. Breathe deeply and forgive yourself for feeling surprised and shocked by what happened to you. Repeat on your other little finger and forgive yourself for being so overwhelmed. Surprise, shock and forgiveness are some of the emotions indicated by the Heart Meridian. You tap Heart 9 at the inside of the little finger.
Hurt and Sadness: Tap your two thumbs together at the nail. Feel any sadness about the event. Breathe into any feelings of hurt and sadness that come up. You are tapping Lung Meridian 11 which holds loss, sadness, regret, and anguish.
Injustice to Self with Self-Angering Beliefs: Use your fist to beat on your heart gently but firmly while breathing deeply. This is the Thymus Thump procedure which puts a strong vibration into the thymus gland and the heart. Think of your pride of holding onto anger and hatred. Forgive yourself for wanting to hurt the other person as you were hurt. Focus on how holding on to anger hurts you now more than the other person. Tap into your heart that wants forgiveness:
Anger at Yourself and Self-forgiveness: Tap on the inside of your little finger while saying, “I forgive myself for harboring any grudges and hatred. Even though I’ve held a belief that an injustice was done to me, I do a greater injustice to myself by holding onto strong feelings about what happened.
Do the Thymus Thump again pounding near your heart with your fist to stimulate your heart and thymus gland. As you pound, say out loud:
I choose to let go of hatred and the belief that justice must be served according to my specifications. I choose to move on with my life and not give energy to something from the past that I cannot change. I choose to release my belief that life must be fair. I choose to release all feelings and beliefs of harm. I forgive myself and I am a good person who deserves peace from this issue.
Check your distress level again to see if it has gone down. Repeat the exercise several times until your SUDS level goes down to a one or two. Repeat the exercise with the belief that “Life isn’t fair” because this terrible thing happened to you. Try to remember an earlier time in your life when you felt a similar injustice. Think of a memory of the person you are upset with doing something that seemed unfair. Maybe they broke a promise or treated your sibling differently.
Of course life is not fair. Holding onto beliefs that it must be will only bring you misery. Soften and forgive yourself and tell yourself that you are a good person even though you have strong feelings. Go through the exercise about the earlier memory. Repeat the exercise several times until you feel entirely calm about your issue.
Roll your eyes in a huge circle around the room thinking of the issue. Note where you feel a drag, resistance or a jump from one area to the next. Take a deep breath and blink your eyes quickly back and forth in the resistant area. Repeat the blinking until your eyes move smoothly around the circle with no tension.
Close your eyes and notice what color you see while thinking of your problem. If you see dark in your visual field, you still have some tension patterns around it. If you see purple, blue, green, yellow or white, you may have shifted the energy behind it.
The Three Unhealthy R’s: Rage, Revenge and Retaliation
These three unhealthy R’s chew up your central nervous system. They hang around in your brain making it less efficient for problem solving. If you have a tendency to go to the unhealthy three Rs, change it around. Let two other words that begin with “r” be your guide: responsibility and respect. Tap on each of the points again with the words “I choose respect and responsibility” to reprogram your mind.
One person reported her experience using this technique to release the depth of her anger at her ex-husband, “This first time through, I didn’t accomplish peace-too much was running through my mind. The second time through, concentration was more streamlined and I could breathe out the pain that was stored up inside. By the third time, I felt release. The breathing was calm and the bridge of my nose didn’t hurt as bad as before. The tension released. The anger subsided. Thank you.”
Rage, revenge and retaliation as well as hate are powerful emotions to be understood, brought into balance and harnessed. Transformed they can bring calmness to your life and an increase in self-esteem.
Author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni gives a strong metaphor for transforming rage: “I haven’t figured it out myself, what you reach for when the consolation of righteous rage no longer consoles you. But I hope it grows into a tree so huge its roots crack the foundation of the old palace. I hope the wind blows its seeds across the land, giving birth to more trees and more so… travelers everywhere will rest under their shade, and bless that which comes after vengeance.” Life becomes much more rewarding when you leave your mission of vengeance to the super heroes in Marvel comics and the action movies.