12. Places We Go When We Feel Wronged
Anger, Contempt, Disgust, Dehumanization, Hate, Self-Righteousness
We feel anger when something gets in the way of a desired outcome or when we believe there’s a violation of the way things should be. We believe that someone or something else is to blame for an unfair or unjust situation, and that something can be done to resolve the problem.
- Anger often masks emotions that are more difficult to name and/or more difficult to own.
- Anger is a very effective emotional indicator light that tells us to pull over and check things out.
- Anger, in response to experiencing or witnessing injustice, pain, and struggle, can be a powerful catalyst for change. But, by definition, a catalyst sparks change, it’s not the change.
Contempt means we look down on the other person and we want to exclude or ignore them. Contempt says “I’m better than you. And you are lesser than me.” Contempt is one of the most damaging of the four negative communication patterns that predict divorce. The other three are criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling.
Disgust is a feeling of aversion towards something offensive.
With contempt, we look down on the other person and we want to exclude or ignore them. With disgust, the feeling is more physical—we want to avoid being “poisoned” (either literally or figuratively)
Dehumanization is the psychological process of demonizing the enemy, making them seem less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment.
Hate is a combination of various negative emotions including repulsion, disgust, anger, fear, and contempt
Self-righteousness is the conviction that one’s beliefs and behaviors are the most correct.
- Righteousness: we are appropriately reacting to a true injustice, we are trying to do the right thing.
- Self-righteousness: we feel morally superior to others and are trying to convince ourselves or others that we are doing the right thing.
Moral outrage in response to injustice can be classified as righteous anger when motivated by a “true” concern about injustice, whereas when moral outrage is self-enhancing, it is self-righteous anger.