Scott’s Thoughts: Anger’s Mirror


“Everything that irritates others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

-Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Mirror in a mirror in a mirror.“I would never act that way.”

“I can’t believe how rude they were.”

“Someone needs to clue that person in.”

“This client is driving me absolutely nuts.”

Valuable self-perspective is hard to come by. Many of the habits and behaviors which dominate our lives have seldom-seen subconscious roots. Unearthing them is no easy task, especially when they may be connected to self-defense mechanisms, unpleasant truths, and difficult “life work” left to do. Growth is worth it, though. The returns are profound, especially later in life.

Anger┬áis a useful and unexpected tool for mining our own psyche. The emotion itself does not rise from a purely rational process, but strikes from our core. Our extreme irritation is automatic and can come from a variety of sources– anxiety, misunderstanding, fear, guilt, and others. Because of this, it is a pathway into ourselves. We only need to follow it as best we can.

Try to repurpose anger as a trigger for self-reflection. Consider, as you feel a streak of pique, that what you’re reacting to in others may be a reaction to something in yourself. This has two purposes: 1) it can help reduce your irritation, and 2) it can help you identify patterns revealed by recurring anger, and potentially the nature of their source.

We cannot help how we feel, but we can help how we react to those feelings. The next time anger comes calling, polish it up and use it as the mirror it can be.

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