righteous anger

Being Angry Over Abuse Doesn’t Make You a Narcissist: It’s Righteous Anger

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It’s a situation every victim of narcissistic abuse finds themselves in. After yet another argument, you ask yourself, “am I really being irrational? Maybe I’m the narcissist.”

You’re understanding, level-headed, and compassionate. When someone accuses you of acting out of line, you take a step back and examine yourself.

You reflect over the times you felt filled with rage and snapped in the past month. Maybe it’s true. Maybe you are overly dramatic.

But wait. Something isn’t right. You can’t remember snapping with resentment like this before you met the narcissist. Now that you think about it, you don’t respond to other people this way.

The truth is, you aren’t being irrational, and your anger is entirely justified.  It has nothing to do with you being a bad person or being on the same level as the narcissist in your life.

The narcissist is merely reframing your righteous anger as baseless rage. It’s an important tool abusers use to normalize their own narcissistic rage while discrediting your genuine grievances.

Righteous indignation can be a powerful weapon of positive change, but you need to know how to harness and use it.

It’s Not Hapless Anger – It’s Righteous Indignation

Righteous anger (or righteous indignation) is a reactive emotion to being mistreated and abused. It’s similar to the feelings we have when we see a child being bullied by their parent or a defenseless animal being mistreated.

It’s a natural response to a situation of injustice.

Anger is a completely normal reaction to injustice. Narcissists, however, see this righteous indignation as a vulnerability. You expressed emotion and let your guard down – to the narcissist, that’s a weakness to exploit.

Narcissists of all kinds will try to gaslight you by rewriting your righteous anger as irrationality. Narcissistic parents come to mind, in particular.

Imagine your mother loves to point out your flaws in front of other people. She gets a good laugh and enjoys it, but it hurts you.

You’ve tried to bring this up to her on several occasions, but she always writes you off and tells you to stop being so emotional. Maybe you’ve even dared to respond with some anger behind your voice, but this only brought out her narcissistic rage and escalated the situation.

At the end of the day, what happened?

You started to believe that she is right – you’re just too sensitive. You also believed her behavior was normal and if you didn’t want her to become enraged, you shouldn’t bring up your problem again.

This is exactly how the narcissist trains us to think their abuse is normal. We think that our behavior is the one that needs to be corrected – not the narcissist’s behavior. Maybe we’re the narcissist after all.

In reality, you have every right to be angry when someone puts you down, attempts to control you, or uses you for their own ego boost. That’s righteous indignation, and it’s a completely natural response.

How Does Your Righteous Anger Differ from Narcissistic Rage?

Righteous anger is a response to genuine injustice.

When non-narcissistic people feel angry, it’s usually because someone has hurt them. We may not always respond the way we’d like, but the source of the anger is typically justified.

When we react to our anger irrationally, we tend to feel embarrassed and regret it later. We feel the need to apologize for acting out of line when we let our emotions get the best of us.

Narcissistic rage comes from a different place.

This type of anger usually stems from an attack on the narcissist’s ego or a threat to their entire charade (which throws the narcissist into an existential crisis).

What Does Narcissistic Rage Look Like?

Here are a few examples of situations that trigger narcissistic anger to help illustrate how it differs from justifiable anger.

  • Someone made a reasonable and constructive criticism of the narcissist.
  • The narcissist is not the center of attention.
  • The narcissist was caught lying, cheating, or breaking any other blatant social standards of conduct.
  • Someone threatened the narcissist’s sense of entitlement.
  • Someone pointed out the narcissist’s manipulation, gaslighting, or abuse.
  • The narcissist feels like they’re losing control.

In general, the narcissist’s reaction to anger is extremely unreasonable, and they will never feel any type of regret or need to apologize for their outburst.

When a narcissist expresses anger, it’s almost never justified. In the off chance there is a justifiable reason to be angry, the narcissist will cling to this wrongdoing for months or years. Expect to hear about it every time you get into an argument and every time you bring up something the narcissist does that hurts you.

Keep in mind that narcissists can also use passive-aggressive rage to make their victim’s lives hell. Not all anger is blatant and loud – sometimes it’s subtle, quiet, and cunning.

Stop Reacting to Your Righteous Anger and Train Yourself to Respond

The most important thing to understand at this point is that you’re experiencing righteous anger. The narcissist has hurt you and is manipulating you. Don’t allow them to gaslight you into believing that you have no right to be angry.

You are absolutely not the narcissist in this relationship (whether it be a romantic partner, parent, sibling, or coworker).

Even if you’re aware that your anger is actually righteous indignation, it’s still difficult not to react unreasonably. After all, the narcissist has trained you to respond this way because responding to things irrationally is what works for them.

But by reacting out of anger, you’re also giving the narcissist ammunition to use against you.

Non-narcissistic people respond positively to justified anger-induced outbursts. They immediately apologize and attempt to correct the situation. Narcissists, however, only respond with more gaslighting and narcissistic rage.

How to Process and Respond to Righteous Indignation

Anger, sadness, fear, stress, and guilt are all normal emotions part of the human experience.

Things start to go south, however, when we make decisions based solely on these emotions without taking a step back and looking at things from a distance.

Anger is actually a very powerful and useful emotion. Plenty of revolutions and positive social change in the world start with righteous indignation.

But what happens to a revolution when righteous anger runs the show, and there’s no one behind the scenes doing any logical political planning? It turns into violent anarchy.

As tempting as it is to respond to the narcissist with anger, it does us no good and produces no long-term change. In reality, it’s only giving you that short-lived adrenaline rush and giving the narcissist much-desired supply in the form of your emotional outburst.

The trick is to develop a healthy level of apathy. This takes work, and you may screw up a few times but trust me, it’s best for long-term results.

Here are a few steps to help you process your righteous indignation and move past the reaction so you can use it for a tool of change.

  1. Play the tape. Addicts are often told to do this when they think about drinking or using. Play the tape in your head: what will happen when you respond out of anger? The narcissist will respond with rage, and the situation will escalate. The situation will end the same as it always has.
  2. Let yourself get angry. No, not in front of the narcissist. Go somewhere you can be alone – let out a primal scream and say everything you wanted to say. Feel better? If the narcissist hasn’t isolated you too much, call a trusted friend and let it out.
  3. Start writing. Yes, writing down our angry word vomit is always good for venting, but this still does little to create any actual change. Once you’ve got the emotional stuff out of the way, write down a list of changes you can make to get out of the abusive situation you’re in. Start small if you have to and set deadlines for everything.
  4. Do something physical. Anger tends to accumulate in our muscles leading to pain from tension. Find a healthy way to let it out. This could include punching a heavy bag or pillow (where the narcissist can’t see, of course), taking a relaxing bath, hugging a friend, or treating yourself to a massage.
  5. Revisit your anger. This step isn’t necessary for everyone. However, if you’ve suffered narcissistic abuse long enough, you may have started to disassociate and drift into helpless apathy aka learned helplessness. In this case, you’ll need to find the strength in yourself to get angry again so you can realize that the situation is not normal, and changes must be made.

Left untreated, even righteous anger and the stress it brings can lead to plenty of unpleasant symptoms like ulcers, migraines, weight gain, strokes, and heart attacks. Don’t let narcissistic rage kill you.

Break Yourself Free from the Chains of Narcissistic Rage for Good

Acknowledging that your anger is actually righteous indignation and not baseless rage is the first step to overcoming your abuse. You’re not accepting the narcissist’s gaslighting anymore. You know that your anger is justified, and you will now respond to it rationally.

At the end of the day, the only way to rid yourself of the abuse for good is to go no contact. Your physical health, mental wellness, and everyone who loves you wants your freedom from narcissistic abuse.

It may seem impossible now but it’s entirely attainable, and your future, liberated self will thank you.

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6 Types of Spiritual Bypassing Holding Back Your Abuse Recovery - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says February 18, 2020

[…] at narcissistic abuse and saying “maybe I’m the manipulative one” is not recovery. It keeps you stagnant and opens the door to future abuse.  Too many people who’ve been on the […]

MR F MACKIN says February 2, 2020

The final realization that you have been unjustifiably abused by a Malignant Narc, is the same as finally realizing you have been lied to since childhood, about a fictitious big man up in the sky? You slowly get very angry at the litany of lies, as you also do at the abuser. My Dad systematically psychologically abused Mom, me and all my siblings since we were small kids. In so doing he was tandem abusing Mom who witnessed it. When she’d complain, he’d gaslight her as overreacting? I finally almost beat his brains in, in his elder years, for abusing Mom. I now feel that Narc abuse is a form of madness, low IQ, and mental retardation combined. And also possibly copied behavior from their own childhood, or possibly also partly genetic, so it can have a knock-on intergenerational effect. Some malignant ones are eventually killed, or jailed for Pape, murder or Paedophilia. I have spent around 2/5 of my life in various prisons for various things, and have written a book about my life with these issues, and much, much more, the reader will no doubt, find hard to believe: = Forgive us our Sins, Patrick Lewis. Amazon Kindle books, or Facebook. The realization that they are simply sick, sad and toxic, is the key to ridding yourself of their sad existence with no regrets, 3xcept your misfortune at having ever had anything ever to do with them. Enjoy the rest of your life in freedom.

Kandi says November 10, 2019

Thank you for this article on anger. I have been attempting to leave my husband for almost 2 decades. I finally think my righteous anger has kicked in and I’m taking real steps to leave. I’m overwhelmed, at times anxious and very worried about what it’s going to take to end up on the other side of this – for my myself – but mostly for my kids. I know I am absolutely done and have the support of everyone who loves me. Thank you for articles like this that I can keep to encourage me when my righteous anger begins to morph in to apathy and then fear. Trying to manage the sense of doom is paralyzing – but seriously ridiculous that I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years.

    Brenda says February 8, 2024

    I believe you stayed for your children’s need for a stable home. Please don’t be hard on yourself, I stayed in a dead end marriage also for 20 years, without children involved. It wasn’t any physical abuse, just emotional neglect and me telling myself I chose this, I deserve it, and nothing is any better out there for an older woman. Well, I finally got him to agree to move out several years ago, and I can tell you that there is a whole new wonderful life out there, and I’m living it

Matthew Gerome says November 8, 2019

Thank you for this article !
I have been struggling with this for over a year now and it is reassuring to hear your words.The woman I was involved with is covert .
She also is a mennonite .
If you are unfamiliar with this religion it is based in pascifism.Anger and ANY display of such negative emotion is highly looked down upon.I am a good person.I have control of my temper but I am also a,very passionate person. I am not mennonite. I come from an italian family that was not afraid of strong emotions.
This was used by my ex to the fullest advantage when the time came for discard.
I played right into it!She could not have asked for a better response.unfortunately for me I live in a rather small town that is dominated by Mennonite culture.So I have been shunned.This has been very damaging to my reputation and my self esteem.It is good and helpful to be reminded of the truth because sometimes a person starts to believe the lie.Thank you again for all of your efforts and help in fighting this “disease” that is so unseen among us.

Monica says February 24, 2019

I am amost afraid to post but here goes. I have been married for 41 years and feel so ashamed. I have felt like the nacassist for so long now i almost believe it. Most of our marriage was delt with by silent treatment. Now i am trying to leave but feel so helpless. I feel everything is my fault. Thank you for this article.

Anonymous says February 13, 2019

This article meant so much to me. Just recently, I found myself questioning if I was actually the narcissist. The article spoke directly to my situation. I am one who had “learned helplessness” and I find it hard to allow myself to get angry anymore. I’m actually seeking help because I’ve realized just how abused I’ve been and the intense conditioning I’ve undergone. I’ve been married to a narcissist for 15 years now. I am struggling to break free from all the chains that bind me to this toxic relationship/soul-tie. Thanks to you, I’m seeing the truth and this truth will set me free.
I know that I cannot do this alone. Keep helping, you are anointed to do so through your own experience. Not too many understand what I am facing and have been able to help.
I am eternally grateful.

    Kim Saeed says February 14, 2019

    I am glad my article resonated with you, Anon. Wishing you all the best as you try to break free.

    Kim XoXo

Nancy Peden says February 13, 2019

Outstanding post, Kim. Have tortured myself: am I the narcissist? NO I question this and it is enough. Bless you.

Tatiana says February 12, 2019

The most annoying thing a narcissist can do is blantly lying about a situation, turning the blame on you in public when they know how things really happen. They feel great deceiving people no shame about it as long as only one person, the abused by them, know. This is a very, very sick kind of people

Michele moore says February 12, 2019

Been divorced from the narcissist for 6 1/2 years. Just went no contact 8 months ago. It has changed my life!! Last week he filed a petition with the court to modify child support based on him choosing to not work for about 9 months. Will see attorney this week but not allowing it to effect me much. One of his last attempts at some control. Youngest child will be 19 in 18 months and then there will be no ties. Wish I had gone no contact years ago!!!

Geraldine says February 12, 2019

Anger got me to leave the idiot. I remember feeling angry throughout most of the relationship as he hit all my boundaries. When I got out however my anger went to an unbearable level with anyone who tried to take any advantage of me even in the smallest way. It’s been a huge period of growth as I hated feeling that way. I fell out of love with the human race but I’ve worked on it and it is a whole lot better. I’ve always loved people and it’s great to feel it coming back. The anger I think was from a long way back, childhood etc and the idiot brought it to boiling point. Mostly I was angry at myself and I thought a lot better of myself than to be reduced by someone that way. It’s good to see the light.

    Jaynr says February 12, 2019

    I am 12 yrs post divorce and have family to him . I still have triggers of “righteous anger”but have no contact. But my ecstasy siblings who live far away have no idea what he has done to me that makes me mad. Do u think of should tell them even after all these years

Denise says February 12, 2019

I hope to strongly encourage the readers to use the writing idea. Write it down! I found a blogging site and made my blog private, and used it during those years to write down my feelings, my anger, and the situation leading up to the feelings. Now when I miss him and look back, and ESPECIALLY when I start to blame myself and feel like I’m some kind of crazy person who ruined the “very best thing that ever happened to me” [toxic thinking/self talk] I can look back and read my blog, and say, “Oh yes, I remember now why I was so upset” and “On this date, this happened, which caused me to break up with him yet again.” It helps to keep my feet on the ground and keep the entire nightmare in focus. As my head clears, I can recall the things that happened, and in what order, and it helps me not to romanticize the relationship, and see it for the abuse that it truly was. I cannot stress enough the importance of writing down what happens as it happens. You’ll look back some day and see it as a very valuable healing tool.

Shelagh says February 12, 2019

Absolutely brilliant Kim Narcissistic Personality Disorder must be horrific they only thing that bothers me is the fact that people who are Narcissistic never need to get help because they truly believe they don’t have a problem the person suffering Narcissistic Abuse they have to like myself

Anonymous says February 12, 2019

This article has really worked for me thanks you kim

Daun Everforest says February 12, 2019

You literally have saved my life. I can never thank you enough

    Kim Saeed says February 14, 2019

    Thank you for your kind praise, Daun. Wishing you all the best for your healing.

    Kim XoXo

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