Anger in the Aftermath of a Narcissistic Relationship
(c) All Rights Reserved
The aftermath of narcissistic abuse will often include feelings of anger. Angry that they are disordered; angry that they had the arrogance/audacity/ hatred to abuse you; angry that they possibly wasted years of your life; angry that you need to heal simply for loving them. The reasons for anger are numerous.
But sometimes the anger can fuel thoughts of retaliation and revenge.
“How do I get back at him [her]?”
“How do I make her pay for what she did to me.”
“What can I do to cause him pain? I’m suffering!”
I get it. I understand why retaliation and revenge would be satisfying. Often people who are moral believe strongly in fairness and consequences. They only have feelings of revenge when they TRULY have been wronged or hurt (unlike some psychopaths who can be aggressive without provocation.)
Ok – Let’s talk the brain and neuroscience.
From a neurobiological standpoint, revenge and retaliation involves the insular cortex (i.e., bodily sensations, action, pain), portions of the prefrontal cortex, and the reward system (Chester & Dewall, 2016; Emmerling et al., 2016). With the involvement of those areas (and a few more) a person feels the sensations of pleasure and relief after an act of retaliation. To put it bluntly, it feels good!
the satisfaction, pleasure, and empowerment that follows from revenge can create a host of other problems, especially if your ex-partner is a psychopath or narcissist.
1) Depending on the chosen retaliation, it could lead to legal problems and serious consequences.
2) You risk harm to your mental, occupational, physical, financial well-being.
3) The temporary pleasure is not worth it, because psychopaths and narcissists often love to play the game. Many enjoy the stimulation of drama. It activates their reward system by a new experience and as we know, many of them are very pleasure driven. (Yes – many feel pleasure when entangled in a negative dramatic scenario. Recall how they were in the relationship. There was likely some chaos taking place – perhaps even secretly behind your back.) Most would feel challenged and elated by an opportunity to dabble in a win/lose game with you – especially since they know all your weaknesses.
As George Bernard Shaw stated, “I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”
Focusing your attention on retaliation and revenge is not worth it. There are ways to use anger to work wonders in fueling your healing forward (a mental health professional can be very helpful in assisting you).
As sweet as revenge may sound (and feel), you will be entering an arena they love – drama. Taking this route focuses you toward a goal that directly conflicts with your healing. Keep in mind that moving forward from your abusive partner is about disengaging from them emotionally. Revenge and retaliation are aggressive engagement. This is not in the direction of healing. Try not to engage. ?
Dr. Rhonda Freeman
(c) 2018 | All rights reserved
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