Anger Isn’t A Bad Word: Healing the Hurt of the Mother Wound the Mother Wound
Anger. This heavy word carries with it a burdensome load of emotions, especially for those who experienced a Mother Wound. For many in this situation, they were taught that anger is wrong to feel and “bad” to express. As a result, the complexity of emotions beneath the anger is left unattended. When the layers of anger are peeled back, many discover a well of hurt that drives their thoughts, actions, and emotional patterns. In order to heal, the anger needs to be recognized, shared and befriended so that the hurt can be seen, held, and understood.
The Burden of Anger and the Depth of Hurt
Anger is a powerful blend of emotions, and it can be difficult to manage. When you begin to process the burden of anger, you’re bound to find a cornucopia of underlying feelings. Sadness, disappointment, shame, and hopelessness, are often lurking beneath its shadows. At the root of many of these overwhelming feelings is hurt. It drives our responses, determines how we approach relationships and is a breeding ground for anger to fester if left ignored. The way we cope with this burden depends on our personality traits and childhood experiences—both of which influence how we deal with stress and suffering throughout life.
Those who experienced an insecure attachment to a mother figure are often taught that the expression of anger is selfish, immature, and even harmful. As a result, the underlying hurt becomes stuck in a holding pattern, locked in the darkness, and unable to be harnessed for healing. If you learned that expressing your true feelings leads to rejection or abandonment, this cycle of repression continues into adulthood.
Anger can have many functions, but at its heart, it is an emotion that tells us something within ourselves or our environment is hurting and needs to be healed. It is a life force that allows us to find truth, reclaim our power, and discover resilience. When this incredible energy is invalidated, punished, or silenced, our direct connection becomes lost.
Despite what you may have learned, anger is not bad. In fact, it plays a vital role in coping with attachment wounds and the resulting trauma and hurt. The beauty of recognizing anger is that it opens you up to a world of emotional vulnerability. By becoming aware of the feelings that lie beneath, you’re able to understand your past, cope with the present, and move towards lasting healing.
Anger, Hurt, and the Mother Wound
Anger is a natural reaction to a lack of security, warmth, and love in childhood. After all, every child expects and deserves to be loved securely by their primary attachment figure, the mother. Those who have experienced a Mother Wound are hurting and angry, and rightfully so. Some know it, some show it, some hide it even to themselves.
While there are several types of Mother Wounds, they all have one major underlying hurt in common: Not Being Valued for Who They Are. When you have a critical, absent, narcissistic, or overbearing mother, your feelings don’t matter, your thoughts don’t matter, and even your purpose doesn't matter. This experience of belittling your very worth leads to anger at your caregiver, anger at those who might not have protected you, and potentially anger at the world around you.
Moving into adulthood, interpersonal relationships and social environments become a breeding ground for the anger and underlying hurt to resurface. Any situation that challenges your value to others can open up the well of anger from your childhood experience. Feeling slighted, rejected, unseen or criticized suddenly elicits a level of emotion that is difficult to understand outside of the context of the attachment wound.
This makes it incredibly challenging to move throughout the world without developing anxiety, depression, aversion to vulnerability, and a lack of self-worth. When left unacknowledged, the anger from the Mother Wound becomes toxic—it eats away at your self-esteem, undermines your relationships with others, destroys self-confidence and self-worth, and can lead you down destructive paths.
In order to move past this cycle, our relationship with anger must change. Rather than viewing the anger as bad, scary, or unwarranted, healing a Mother Wound requires acknowledging that anger is simply hurt in disguise. It’s the dismissed parts of ourselves communicating that they need care, compassion, and a voice that is heard. By seeing it as a tool for healing and a valid reaction to attachment trauma, anger becomes a powerful tool for change.
How to Deal With Anger
Anger is usually much more accessible than what you may be feeling underneath. The roots beneath the anger are much more tender, vulnerable, and in pain. Your anger is trying to help you feel, see, and validate the underlying hurt, but it can be challenging to allow its voice to surface in a positive way.
Processing anger that resulted from a Mother Wound is an uphill journey. Along the way, you will likely feel overwhelmed, uncertain if it is worth the pain, and frustrated with the effort it takes to heal. However, you are not alone. By reaching out for support and being gentle with yourself throughout the process, you can, and will, find lasting healing.
The first step is to recognize the anger when it surfaces. You can do this by simply stating, “I’m noticing I’m feeling angry.” Once you’ve identified the emotion, try freehand journaling about the feeling. Where do you notice it in your body? Does it have a color associated with it? Can you identify any secondary emotions that are beneath the anger?
Next, share your anger with someone close to you who will listen without judgment and help you work through it together. This could be a friend or family member who has been there for you through thick and thin—someone who knows what kind of person you are at heart and won't judge your feelings. Alternatively, reach out to a professional counselor to offer guidance as you work through the anger.
Finally, befriend your anger. Acknowledge it as a helpful guide that is sharing important information about your inner self. What is your anger communicating to you? Is there a hurt it is disguising? Whatever the answer, it’s essential to respond with validation. Your feelings are justifiable, important, and worthy of being heard. Try and get curious about what you notice, and try to not rush this process.
Repeat after me: “Anger is not a bad word.” If you experienced a Mother Wound, you have the power to use your anger as a guide for healing the hurt that lies within. With support and self-compassion, you can use your anger as a helpful tool for rebuilding your self-worth, strengthening your emotional resilience, and improving your ability to connect with yourself and others.
Devin R. Burrill & Pamela A. Silver, Making Cellular Memories (2010).
Anna Lardone, Marianna Liparoti, Pierpaolo Sorrentino, Rosaria Rucco, et al., Mindfulness Meditation Is Related to Long-Lasting Changes in Hippocampal Functional Topology during Resting State: A Magnetoencephalography Study. (2018).