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  • Eve Coker, PhD, LCMHC

Anger as a Privilege

There’s a saying – “No one makes you angry. You decided to use anger as a response.” This thought aligns with what Viktor Frankl wrote about in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. In this book, he wrote of his experience surviving a concentration camp and how it brought him to the realization that while we cannot always directly control the things happening around us or to us, we can control or at least manage the way that we respond to these events.


Our management of our emotions gets a little tricky when we also pay attention to how diet, personal development, hormones, stress, and trauma can deter our ability to respond as our optimal selves.


Additionally, we have to consider the goals that people wish to achieve when they choose their behavior. If a person is on a lower stage of development where they are just seeking to survive, their response is going to be oriented with trying to feed themselves, have shelter, feel safe, maintain healthiness, and feel a sense of belonging (per Maslow’s Hierarchy). If a person doesn’t need to worry about their survival needs, they are going to be more concerned with maintaining their sense of self-esteem (again, Maslow’s Hierarchy).


There are people who express anger and frustration over their survival-based situations and are seen as “less-than” or lacking in ability or gumption by those who’ve already met their survival needs. The ones who are instead seeking to meet self-esteem needs (which we are falsely told can be fulfilled by empty means like money, power, belongings, status, etc.) are able to express anger against the status quo changes which seek to disrupt that which gives them this false sense of esteem. They don’t understand the anger of those seeking to meet their survival needs and frequently ask the question, “Why can’t they just be like us?”


Also, it should strongly be noted that the “have-nots” typically do not have access to the things that help them be their best selves – lack of education, financial stability, home life stability, childhood trauma, poor diet, and lack of safety are among many of the things that can cause someone to present themselves in a way where they are less able to communicate clearly and directly and are more likely to communicate in the best ways they know how. These best ways may not always be considered tasteful by those who have not experienced the same things, further causing them to see the “have-nots” as problematic rather than truly in need of help.


Thus, we see the “haves” and the “have-nots” in a toxic relationship with each other.




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