Anger Management: When Things Go Wrong at Work or Home, Don’t Think Like a Victim

By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, W. Doyle Gentry

Bad, terrible, and downright outrageous things happen with regular frequency at work, home, and with friends. If you have trouble managing your anger, you need to try and not think like a victim. For example, people get laid off, couples get divorced, friends betray friends, and kids misbehave and show disrespect. Often, there’s no real reason for these occurrences; other times, there’s a reason, but the reason feels unfair. At such times, people declare, “Why me?”

Actually, there’s no answer to that question. When bad events occur, you’re likely to feel powerful feelings of despair or anger and rage. Those feelings often lead people to feel like victims of the unfair or horrible event.

Usually, people who know the victim well, try to help out. They offer solace, support, and advice. The victim feels a bit better with the care and attention of others. And for a while, that reaction sort of works.

Cultures across the world have created the roles of victim and helpers for good reasons. These roles make it easy for people to give and receive help. However, over time, the role of victim changes to the point that it causes more harm than benefit.

As the belief in victimhood continues, people start fixating on the unfairness of life, and they become enraged. Their chronic anger makes them feel powerless. They may even feel that no one can possibly help them enough.

They’re likely to start taking their anger out on their spouses, family, friends, or coworkers. These people, once supportive, get tired of the abuse and distance themselves from the victim. But you can take on an alternative role when the inevitable struggles of life push you into the victim role.

That alternative role is what’s known as a coper. Copers have been on the receiving end of unfair or even horrible circumstances just like victims. But at a certain point, copers let go of their grief, anger, and rage and begin to move forward. They look for ways to deal with what’s happened to them and find meaning and purpose in their lives.

Realize that letting go of anger and focusing on moving forward doesn’t take anything away from the significance of the bad things that have happened to you. Moving from victim to coper isn’t easy. But the rewards of leaving the victim role behind are enormous. So the next time you feel like a victim to life, remind yourself to look for ways to cope.