The drawings show a nobleman whose expression changes from rage to gradually less intense anger and finally sorrow and resignation.

''Once upon a time, there was an angry man who did not know that anger covers over sorrow, and that sorrow covers up over resignation. What the resignation was about, he did not know - it was unperceived or long forgotten.''

The notion of anger

In the emotional hierarchy, anger always covers up sorrow or sadness, which in turn covers up resignation. Effective therapeutic treatment therefore has to enact a quick descent in this hierarchy in order to get to the core source of the sorrow and the anger. The source of sorrow and anger is always a burst hope, wish or dream. For example, if I am furious with my partner over something she is refusing to give me or help me fulfil, I am actually sad. On a deeper level, part of my dream about my relationship with my partner has burst.

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My task now is to express that sorrow. To see her clearly, including the aspect where she differs from how I wanted her to be. Next, I have to establish a new and more realistic dream based on who she really is, not who I thought she was. Alternatively, I may have to leave her if my need is so specific and so important that it must be fulfilled.

Perspective 

If the nobleman from the illustration had come to see me during the early stages of my therapeutic training, I would have addressed his anger and tried to make him process it and move past it. Then I would have to see what happened next. Today, when I encounter anger or sorrow in a client, my focus is on preventing the person from losing him/herself in the feeling and instead identify the source and give that area room, care and tenderness. Next, I help the client establish a new dream for the future. The method is highly effective, impactful and constructive.

The nobleman’s resigned expression and the closing words of the description ­(‘it was unperceived or long forgotten’) illustrate what happens when we fail to deal with our resignation, or when our inward contact is not sufficient for identifying it. I have seen many people with the same expression on their face as the nobleman. It usually reflects repeated resignation in relation to needs big and small. Eventually, the feeling of resignation becomes detached from the specific needs and becomes a negative and unconstructive basic feeling that sucks energy out of the person’s ­surroundings. However, contactful and loving conversation therapy typically ­resolves anger and negativity with relative ease.

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