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Loving Yourself in the Face of Another's Rage

By Dr. Margaret Paul
June 11, 2017

For many people, learning to love themselves in the face of another's anger or rage is a very big challenge.

Close up black and white view of a man holding his fist outward. It is very challenging for many of us to be at the other end of someone’s anger or rage. I hear over and over from my clients and Inner Bonding Intensive participants how terrified they are of another’s anger and rage, and how often they walk on eggshells to not trigger their partner into rage.

For those of us who grew up with anger, rage or violence, the terror and trauma of this is deeply programmed into our wounded self, and we might automatically give ourselves up, shut down, or step into the fray with our own anger. None of these reactive responses are loving to ourselves.

Before I go into what would be loving to yourself, I want to state categorically that if there is physical or emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to end the relationship—at least until the person receives help and there is no longer a threat of harm. It’s not loving to your inner child to put yourself at the other end of abuse.

Loving yourself in the face of another’s rage often takes much practice, especially if you were traumatized as a child.

The first thing you need to fully accept is that when someone is raging, they are not in their ‘right’ mind. They are operating from fear and are in their lower, primitive brain, the amygdala—their wounded self. They have no access to their higher mind—their loving adult. So trying to reason with them is a waste of time, as they can’t hear you and they don’t care about you at that moment. You need to fully accept your lack of control over them and take loving care of yourself. I know it’s very challenging to accept helplessness over others, but we ARE completely helpless over a raging person. However, we are not helpless over ourselves.

This Is What You Can Practice Doing…

  • Breathe. Take a ‘sacred pause’ to give yourself the time to stay in your compassionate loving adult. The biggest challenge is to not be reactive.
  • Thinking of the person as being a five-year old in an adult body might help you stay compassionate with yourself and with them.
  • If you know that the person responds well to touch, gently touch them with love and kindness. This might help them to calm down. If you know from previous experience that touch doesn’t help them or might even inflame them further, then obviously don’t reach out.
  • Lovingly disengage, which means leaving the room or hanging up the phone, gently saying, “Let’s talk about this when we are both calm.”
  • If the raging person throws out a hook, such as “There you go again, always running away. You need to stay here and deal with this,” keep walking away without saying anything.
  • Do an Inner Bonding process to reassure your inner child that he or she isn’t alone—that you are here as an adult and Spirit is here. Compassionately embrace your core pain of the loneliness, heartache and helplessness over them that you will likely feel when someone is very angry or rageful.
  • In 30 minutes, check in with the other person. It generally takes about 30 minutes for people to calm down. If both of you are calm, then you can discuss the issue with an intent to learn.
  • If the other person never opens, then you need to take loving care of yourself in the face of this, and resolve the conflict for yourself as best as you can. Obviously if this happens frequently, you might want to consider leaving the relationship.

When you consistently disengage when there is anger or rage and take loving care of yourself instead, you might find that the other person becomes less angry. Anger is a form of control, and if it isn’t working for them, there is a possibility they will stop.

Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."

Join IBVillage to connect with others and receive compassionate help and support for learning to love yourself.


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