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Is It Anger or Abuse?

Is It Anger or Abuse?

In the heat of the moment, it can be sometimes difficult to tell the difference between true anger and abuse. This handy checklist can help.

True anger is always mindful.
Abuse is ego-driven and caught in mindsets.

True anger is a form of assertiveness that shows respect.
Abuse is aggressive, an attack.

True anger shows tough love that enriches or repairs the relationship.
Abuse explodes in rough or damaging mistreatment that endangers the relationship.

True anger arises from displeasure at an injustice.
Abuse arises from the sense of an affront to a bruised, indignant ego.

True anger focuses on the injustice as intolerable but reparable.
Abuse focuses on the other person as bad.

True anger aims at a deeper and more effective bond; an angry person moves toward the other.
Abuse wants to get the rage out no matter who gets hurt: an abuser moves against the other.

True anger coexists with and empowers love: fearless.
Abuse cancels love in favor of fear: fear-based.

True anger is nonviolent, in control, and always remains within safe limits.
Abuse is violent, out of control, derisive, punitive, hostile, and retaliatory.

True anger includes grief and acknowledges this.
Abuse includes grief but masks it with feigned invulnerability or denial.

True anger believes the other is a catalyst of anger.
Abuse believes the other is a cause of anger.

True anger treats the other as a peer.
Abuse treats the other as a target.

True anger is a form of addressing, processing, and resolving.
Abuse is a form of avoiding one’s own grief and distress.

Read more: Spirit, Guidance, Self-Help, , ,

Adapted from How to Be An Adult in Relationships, by David Richo (Shambhala, 2002). Copyright (c) 2002 by David Richo. Reprinted by permission of Shambhala.
Adapted from How to Be An Adult in Relationships, by David Richo (Shambhala, 2002).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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How to Be An Adult in Relationships

The five keys to mindful now


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11:15PM PDT on May 1, 2013


9:05AM PDT on Apr 30, 2013


8:55AM PDT on Apr 9, 2013

Thanks for sharing

4:58AM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

Great article. Thanks for sharing.

3:33AM PST on Jan 20, 2013

Interesting article

4:57PM PST on Jan 17, 2013

yes.. i always know... its an abuse.. just that it is not physical..

8:44PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

8:43PM PST on Nov 6, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

5:49AM PDT on Oct 31, 2012

thank you for sharing!

12:21PM PDT on Oct 30, 2012

Interesting list and differentiation. As it is sometime said : abused people often become abusers themselves, triggered by the anger the abuse creates within them.
If you keep in mind your anger should be mindful, respectful and constructive, and used to fight injustice (for everyone, not only yourself) then the circle is broken.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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