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.
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).