Detachment: Anger vs. Empathy

I have some big questions on my mind.

How do you move past anger when someone has mistreated you? When you realize the people who hurt you are hurting themselves how do you let the anger go and show empathy?

How do you detach yourself from unhealthy situations? I discovered that distance from unhealthy people in my life has done my recovery wonders, but it hasn’t erased the anger – even though I realize the people who mistreated me need help themselves. 

It has been so important for me to focus on my own mental health to be able to be a good mom and help others. I feel detachment and distance are necessary not to derail that crucial self-care. 

But at the same time, how do you encourage others to focus on self-care? I still care about the people who wronged me. I wouldn’t be so angry if I didn’t care, but I wish I could just move on. 

Sometimes my anger tells me I want revenge, but really I just want relief.

I know this is kind of vague, but can you relate? Can you show anger and empathy at the same time? Is detachment necessary or just avoiding the problem? Is a resolution always needed to move on?

(Also, I am currently in therapy to address these and other issues. Even though my blog is an excellent outlet for me, I really recommend therapy for anyone. It really helps to have a sounding board, learn coping techniques, and get an objective viewpoint. If you are considering it, do it.)


  1. Katydid says

    In the past you’ve spoken about your extended family causing you hurt. It’s harder to separate from family than acquaintances.

  2. antaresrichard says

    I dunno, entering my twilight years, I haven’t that many years left to be or remain actively angry at past treacheries and cruelties perpetrated against me.* It’s the despair at the current misdeeds I witness in the world at large that affects me to a larger degree nowadays. For every time a new darkness befalls us, my time waiting to reach the next dawn grows more limited, and I, as everyone else, want be there to enjoy the light.

    *Curiously, while I don’t feel any ongoing angers in conscious life, my dreams now and then, have me unreasonably raging at the slightest indignities; so maybe I’m not so past my hurts as I suppose.

  3. SailorStar says

    Here’s a thought: you’re dealing with adults, not children. A lot of people had bad things happen to them in childhood, and a lot of people got dealt a bad hand in life. An adult is capable of choosing to behave civilly, to not hurt other people. You make that choice over and over, every single day.

    As for urging others to find self-care, I don’t think that’s possible if they don’t want to change. Something that’s dismayed me the past few years is realizing just how many people go through life irrationally furious and like it that way. An entire news network caters to their need to feed on outrage, and cultural conditions have made it acceptable to pitch a fit in public whenever the urge hits, no matter how crazy or absurd it is–or worse, to inflict pain just because it’s fun.

    Example: I recently got a bill from my doctor’s office that I owed a co-pay. I had to be there for another reason, so I presented myself at the receptionist’s desk to pay. I was told that bill was a mistake–that everything was covered in full with no co-pay. I said, “Well, I’m not going to fight you about not having to pay,” and the receptionist sighed and said she’d been dealing all day with people who did want to fight about it. Specifically with her, and she didn’t set up the rules.

    I think the question you should be asking yourself and maybe explore with your therapist is why you’re putting up with people who don’t treat you well. You don’t have to tell us here–a bunch of internet strangers–but you should consider whether your empathy is hurting you in this specific situation. The answer might be that you’re family, or that you’ve known them for a long time, or that everyone around you acts like that. But it’s hurting you, so you need to find a solution.

  4. brightmoon says

    Well I’m pissed at Dolt45 and the people who support him. But if the truth were known frankly I’m just scared. His entire presidency I felt like I had a target on my back , I’m a woman , I’m science literate, and I’m Black. I think my useless lingering anger at my toxic parents is due to spending my childhood in a state of extreme anxiety leavened by terror. Dolt45’s verbal abuse, undeserved attacks , malignant narcissism and reality denial reminds me of them . I’m tired of the flashbacks

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