But when we can mix in some honest recollection of the ways we have been helped by the person we are angry with, the things they have done that we have appreciated or needed or benefited from, we can soften the bad feelings just enough to get some relief and deal with things in a more productive way.
Spouses who frustrate us may also have helped us co-parent well, or encouraged us in our career. Parents who behave irrationally may have helped support us in some way. Bosses who are difficult may have gone to bat for our raise. Friends who have been neglectful may have once listened well to us when we were a mess. And we ourselves, when we make mistakes, also have our good points. We are well served to remember them and appreciate them while we are taking a look at the things that we do that no longer serve us well.
Of course, I am not excusing bad behavior, but I think everyone fares better when we seek to understand it, and when we can support our efforts by telling the whole story, not just the painful parts. And of course, I know its not so easy to call up things to be grateful for when you are on brain rev from anger or fear or frustration or self attack. But still....
I maintain my great respect for anger and frustration, for talking and talking and talking some more. About what shapes us, what we believe, what we would like and what might be in the way of getting it. And I think that as we tell our stories, we are missing out if we don't also include the things that we have and are and do that work well.
Gratitude is the antidote to self pity. And since self pity (which you can certainly indulge in if you like) usually runs us in circles inside, a bit of gratitude can pull us out. I know I might be stretching it, but if your legs work, or your eyes, or you have a bed to sleep in, you have something to go on.
Yes, sometimes it is about perspective. But I think its also about allowing ourselves to have all our feelings, the good and bad ones, and fostering the hope that we can have them and get relief from them. And create resilient selves and resilient relationships.