Have you ever come home from a stressful day at the office and found yourself snapping at your spouse or children for the slightest wrong? When you feel hurt or victimized, there is a natural reaction to lash out at others. They are often totally innocent third parties over whom you have some power, such as your employees or your children. This is your mind trying to assert control over how you feel—to stop the pain—but in the most destructive way possible.
This is called projected, misdirected, or displaced anger and it is important that you be able to identify and stop the process. Left unaddressed, displaced anger can hurt and alienate the people closest to you.
Recognizing and confronting the underlying things that hurt or anger you is hard, but the work is essential. The key to resolving displaced anger is recognizing that it is happening. If you find yourself yelling at your child for not eating dinner, ask yourself “is this really what I’m angry about?” If you are displacing your anger on others, apologize honestly and find a peer to talk to about the underlying issues.
You might also respond by trying to be more consciously empathetic to those around you. While this can be a challenging habit to build in the midst of a crisis, it provides a powerful outlet for releasing your built-up mental energy in a constructive and beneficial way.