Do Disrespectful People Make You Angry?

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Buck Black offers psychotherapy for anger issues through his practice in the Lafayette Indiana area ( via phone, email, and office visits. He ...Read More

The feeling of being disrespected is one of those things that often enrages people. Who has any tolerance for being disrespected? I hope no one does, actually. Willingly subjecting yourself to disrespectful people can cause plenty of problems, such as poor self esteem and bottled up anger. However, jumping to conclusions that you are being disrespected (when you are not) can cause plenty more problems.

Here is my question: What does it mean to be disrespected. Many people have a variety of answers for this one. Therefore, I do not think there is any one consensus on this definition. It is a feeling that people get and they know it when they see it—at least that’s what they think. Since this feeling is rather subjective, I want to point out the great possibility that its the person’s thinking that is causing them to feel disrespected. This is often the case when the other person means no disrespect. Therefore, I urge everyone to step back and ask why they are having these feelings.


A person often feels disrespected when, for example, their child does not do as they are told. However, does the child say, “I want to disrespect my parent by not doing as I am told.”? I really doubt that. The problem here is the parent views the behavior as “disrespectful,” instead of seeing that there may be many reasons the child does not do as he/she is told (because they simply don’t want to do it, they have ADHD, they have some strong negative feeling and so on).

Another person might feel disrespected when she is cutoff in traffic. She might say, “I can’t believe how inconsiderate that idiot is!” This kind of thinking starts road rage incidents everyday. However, if she were to take a step back and think about the situation, there is a fair chance that he did not see her because of a blind spot in the mirror, or he was distracted by his young child. Yes, it is also possible that he cut her off on purpose, but this is rarely the case.

The number of explanations for “disrespectful” behaviors are numerous. I encourage everyone to look at the actions behind these behaviors. A lot of people behave in a “disrespectful” manner because they are scared, they are trying to look tough to cover insecurities, they are blind to their own behavior, or they are simply angry in general. If you immediately tell yourself that you are being disrespected when a person does not behave the way you want them to, remind yourself that you are jumping to conclusions. Think about the alternative reasons the person is acting this way. Few people make it a goal to disrespect others.

Here are some quick one-liners that a person can ask themselves in order to reduce anger:

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* Will (whatever makes me angry) matter one year from now? Will it matter one week from now?
* What right do I have that is being violated?
* How would the average person respond to this?
* How is getting angry about this really going to change anything?
* Other than anger, what else am I feeling?
* What belief do I have that is making me angry? Is that belief reasonable.
* What is really causing this person to behave in a matter that makes me angry?

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