Taking Anger Out on Others

Taking Anger Out on Others

Clearly, we live in a time when many of our fellow citizens seem to harbor a great deal of anger. It appears that the source of this anger is complex and multi-layered. While we all have a right to act on our feelings, many of us fail to discriminate and thus often direct anger on targets totally undeserving of such a reaction. It is always shocking to me to read some of the comments submitted when articles are posted. For the life of me, I cannot begin to fathom the reason that the anger is expressed using emotionally charred negative words directed at those who are simply trying to reach out, open their lives to others in an effort to attempt to provide support to those living also with chronic pain. This is a simple act of kindness in an attempt to address the issue of social isolation so many chronically ill experience, Every time I and others have an article posted, we have to brace ourselves for being attacked and judged in often the most demeaning of ways.

We need, as a society, to remember kindness, remember we are not perfect and that we are all on our distinct journeys in life, trying to make the best of the gifts and/or trials we have been given. But to read something someone has written to try to help you from the kindness of their heart – why are you tearing them down? I understand the frustration, hurt, anger, the feeling of being lost, feeling abandoned, etc. Those are hurtful and difficult to deal with. But does that justify tearing down others around you just trying to offer support and offering suggestions to try to help you? These people that post on this site take the time to reach out to you and are not being compensated for their time and efforts.

Ellen Lenox Smith

What do you gain by being so negative towards others? Do you feel empowered by hurting others? Do you feel physically and emotionally better to attack others due to your issues you are coping with? And if the answer is NO, then what is your motivation to use such hurtful words towards others.

If you read carefully the articles printed, no one is attempting to say their issues are more important than yours. No one is claiming to have all the answers for you to follow. No one is seeing pain as a competition. Instead, these articles are filled with the raw emotion of those attempting to cope and hoping to help you see you are not alone. The articles sometimes offer suggestions that have helped that might help you. And the people writing to try to help you are also trying to figure out how to accept, fight, become empowered and live a life that has as for so many of us, turned more challenging and often emotionally overwhelming to a degree none of us anticipated or planned for.

So let’s see if you can consider what your words mean to one that is just trying to help you. Do you really want to turn them away from trying to help you and others? For if you do, you will slowly see some writers finding that the task of sharing in writing with the hope of perhaps providing even a shred of meaningful advice based upon one’s individual experience may simply not be worth the emotional drain caused by the often hostile negative reaction they may be exposed to.

So, feeling frustrated and overwhelmed? Why not try writing out what is on your mind and get the out onto paper and then set it aside. Return the next day and see how you feel about what you wrote down and decide if that made you feel better or if you feel you still need to share the negative with the writer. You may find it very liberating to write out your emotions and then taking a break to see if that is truly something that remains private or something that is better off shared.

Let’s try a bit more kindness towards each other in 2020!

May life be kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/

newest oldest
Notify of
Cindy Deim

Thanks so much Ellen. There have been times when I wanted to say something but I didn’t want to get jumped on by people. I can appreciate that people are in pain. I am. However, we always need to treat each other with respect and kindness.


Well said Liz!!!


I’m sorry that my last post was completely selfish and off the topic. When we suffer pain sometimes we tend to worry about only ourselves and not others. I I’m sorry I want off topic. To all of my fellow sufferers I hope I never have offended anyone and please understand if I have it was unintentional. God be with us all and how are Trail through life and that he pick us up when we stumble and fall.

Ellen I certainly hope that I was never unkind to anyone on any forum. We should all be akin to each others suffering and failures. Most of us have been so beaten down by pain that we lose sight of ourselves and hope itself. Even worse is being abused by a doctor who took an oath to do no harm but then turns around and does his best to hurt you. The way so many of us are treated and have been treated and how we suffer in pain has bred anger in us. Though we try not to let it show it is like a kettle that has to blow its top at times. Hopefully we do not vent that in the wrong way. I have been damaged for life physically and mentally. When I say mentally I mean I have lost trust in the medical community. I am being considered for a DRG implant and it is required that we see a psychologist for an evaluation to see if we are able to withstand the stress of an implant. We have to get permission to have it done. Being a person in pain should be proof enough that we are able to have the procedure. The implant is to try to trick my body into thinking I do not have abdominal pain. I was cleared by the way but they know I have anxiety and depression. It has been a month since I had the eval. and I have heard nothing yet in regards to the implant. My mind naturally goes into the suspicious mode wondering if they are playing games.It goes there because I have been abused so much. The doctor had told me that there is not much else left for me except the implant. The opioids helped me but now I am being forced to consider a surgical procedure with no guarantees it will work. I go day by day anymore with no real trust for any doctor. I have nothing at all to even try to ease my pain, no treatment what so ever. All this breeds anger. I have unrelenting abdominal pain, pancreatitis, arthritis and fibromyalgia. I am a christian and I do depend on my Lord Jesus to help me but it does not ease my pain. I put my worship music on and I sing, it helps me but not my pain.

Kathleen Kaiser

I can’t agree that we all have a “right” to act on our feeling. I think it is often rude and unnecessary the way people think we all need to hear their angry and often hostile opinions. I can only imagine what prompted your letter and for the individual(s) that wrote mean spirited things in reply, for that I am sorry. Humanity has lost a lot of decorum in the face of righteousness we have in the US.


Thank you. What you addressed is at the heart of my approach to posting here this year. I haven’t spoken poorly of other’s and I’ve discounted myself. That too is a form of disrespect. I’m beginning to advocate on mine and other’s behalf for a clear difference between pain medicine use and drug abuse.
I would do well to curb my well earned feelings when doing so. I’m learning.
Thank you for caring enough to speak to this.
In my world, love is a function of communication.

Nancy Wilson

Liz, what makes you think Ellen is not in pain too! She is taking time to write articles to encourage us. So you need to calm down, and learn some manners! I am in pain, but still conduct myself like a responsible, caring human being!


How when at the very nex t meeting it could be your last because our government is snnufing out your life just like Nazi Germany where we are deemed we have to die becuase we need more than 90 mme. Yo have to live like a hermit and even family hates you?


Thank you for an excellent post! The anger in people’s posts can be quite off putting & hurtful. I love your suggestion of writing it out and waiting. If I find myself getting angry I try to reread the post that upset me critically & identify what upset me & why. Also to see did I interpret a tone that wasn’t there or was stronger only because of my feelings? If I’m not sure I try to ask a question or see if the person had other posts in the thread and what thier tone was. Last, I ask how will I or others benefit if I respond?
If I respond I try to stick to facts or comment only on the actions within the thread and not attack the person’s character or make assumptions of them. I may say what they said about me is wrong but I don’t call them names. I name the action. If the topic is in dispute, I provide citations and ask for thiers. If they have none then I end with saying the convo can continue end or continue when they have some.
Sometimes you just have to walk away. But its sad. There is no reason to be mean or take anger out on others. It’s not ok if you’re “right” or mad or whatever. Thank you for the reminder. I hope people take it to heart!


Amen! Thank you, Ellen! Blessings!


Thanks, Ellen…

Unfortunately, at its core, pain is a raw, emotional experience. Some people are far enough in their journey, and blessed with enough functional moments to express themselves as a pain-free person might…and others, not so much.

Some people have bad intentions, and choose to lash out because the ‘fight’ via rude remarks lets them blow off some steam… or it lets them attack others (in the name of righteousness, from their perspective). Some are overwhelmed by their pain, so they lash out but sound ‘victimy’ to their readers… Others, many others, just have a different point of view or set of life experiences, so when they read ‘advice’ that causes them to tilt, they respond in a raw, unfiltered manner..no fluff or other trappings…they respond from the gut as people constantly in pain do…

One of the things ALL people in pain need is compassion…and another is forgiveness. I am often told that I give others ‘a way out’…but that is not how I see it. I prefer to believe that I am evolved enough to understand and accept that many people are on their own journey..dealing with their own tortous pain…and depending on the moment, they might not have the finesse to communicate in a polite way… Their spoons might be all used up for that day.

In the end, I just say a prayer and let it go. Many people lashing out have words and behaviors that say tons about them, yet nothing about me.

My advice for 2020: let it go. Accept that the majority of people are struggling, and due to thwir longtwrm pain and struggles, their finesse is about gone.

James McCay


I think Ellen’s pain is far more controlled than ours, or she’s speaking from DIRECT EXPERIENCE because none of us who’ve experienced TRUE Excruciating unending pain for long periods have been able to “TRY A BIT MORE KINDNESS”… now I know Ellen never experienced my level of pain after rereading that one! Sorry, but you just don’t “get it” Ellen.

I never lie or exaggerate, those who don’t like it can IGNORE MY POSTS as I am PURPOSELY in a position where I’ve been LIVING COMPLETELY ALONE SINCE 2014 (and purposely shield myself from having anyone in my dwelling) because there are times in the last couple of years (getting more often); I DON’T EVEN WANT TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR ME, but I can’t escape myself (nor do I do illegal drugs), my mediation doesn’t come close to helping, and most non-Chronic Intractable Pain patients will never “GET IT” unless we inflict OUR KIND OF PAIN UPON THEM (which I don’t suggest anyone do, but sadly it’s the ONLY WAY they’d “get it”!).

So many American people have chosen “STUPID” (or “ignorance” for those who are very sensitive- MY BUTT!!!) as their minute to minute lifestyles in this country over the last 10-years.
This is WHY this “WAR ON OPIOIDS” was BROKEN before it even started in some states (like mine; NY in 2011). I may unleash anger unintentionally, but I’d prefer that to STUPID any day!!!

Elizabeth Rogers

Thank you and others who post regularly for their patience and forbearance towards the rest of us. I really try not to seem angry when I comment. However, I do sometimes think anger is justified towards the healthy “experts” and decision-makers in the prime of life who advocate punitive policies that rule our lives. Almost universally, they appear to have no experience with or empathy for those living with long-term incurable pain. I will redouble my efforts in 2020 to ensure that any discontent I may express is appropriately directed.

Judy Jaeger

Thank you Ellen!!! This is by far one of the most meaningful & heart-felt articles I’ve read here in a long time. I used to comment on articles more frequently but not so much anymore. Yes, we’re all in pain, or we wouldn’t be here. We’re all hoping that someday we’ll come across something that could help us. Let’s leave judgment out of it. We need compassion, not pity. We’re all just trying to make the best of our pain situations. …..and we need to do that without being hurtful to others. Thank you & Happy New Year to ALL!!


Please, no one is taking anger out on you or anyone else! Pain patients do not know how to do this! If they did, you’d certainly know it and so would everyone else. People in real pain, and people are here, don’t have time to pussy foot around and always say nice things, they are IN PAIN and that is all their mind can focus on. So please don’t misconstrue things, and realize that we all are saying, we are in PAIN! We need help, not fancy words, we got over all that many moons ago when our pain was like yours, not nearly so bad; now we are in crisis with it. If you’re not trying to help us then please ‘get out of the kitchen’.

Thomas V.

Well said and thanks for sharing!

Christine Sparks

Right on, Ellen Lenox Smith, as always! I so admire all of you who take the time and energy to write these articles. And I know many of you, if not all, are also dealing with brain fog, as it seems to accompany chronic pain! I have so much respect for you. Thank you to you and to all who have written one or more articles here for the benefit of all of us. ♥️


You are so right!
I have control over my anger, I do not let it get the best of me. Be kind to all and kindness
Come back to you😊

Theresa L. Negrete

Great idea Ellen, thank you! I have been guilty of this and for this I deeply apologize. I have worked up anger in me, to have energy, to get through the day of physical work and the anger can not be contained, I must try other stragedies. I have no desire to hurt anyone who has and is trying to help, especially other Chronic Pain sufferers. In the spirit of contentment, which I hope for everyone and I’m working on now, I certainly will try this! Again Ellen, thank you for this and all the other helpful posts you have shared!

Lori T.

Happy New Year to all! Thank you Ellen, you are 100% correct. We all need to look carefully at what we are writing. You bring up a very good point. Speaking for myself only, I try to go over my post several times over to make sure that I am posting from my heart rather than what I may be thinking at any given moment. I try to put myself in others shoes or feelings, to make sure I am not slamming anyone. Each of us has a unique situation and no one wants to be “dressed down“ for simply trying to convey a helpful point or a kind word. I realize that I am not always perfect in this process, so if anybody feels that I have said something unkind or disheartening, I am truly very sorry. This is not a forum of hate, anger, or any of the other negative words one could use, this is a forum of LOVE. I look at each person posting as a little guardian angel who is doing their best to uplift my day. And I am going to take this moment to thank everyone who is sharing with a very heartfelt HUG. We are all at different points on the learning curve of life and this topic is no different. As Ellen so correctly points out, let us ALL do better in this new year and we ALL will be the better for it. Thank you for this great post Ellen. I have always appreciated your posts through the years. You are a real life hero in my playbook. Gentle hugs!


Yes!!I concur!! And thank you for bringing this to light, again…
Let’s think before we speak or write. This is a new world where many hide behind written ugly or demeaning words on the web. Most would not actually say this to our face.
We did not chose our specific illness but dealing with it the best we can and in a positive light most days.
We need to love one another regardless of their shortcomings whatever they be! Treat others the way we want to be treated!


You and Stu exemplify kindness, caring and compassion. The lives you touch are forever better. THANK YOU 🙏🏻

So sorry you have to experience this!! I really enjoy your articles, please keep them coming. You’ve been very helpful to me and I’m sure many others.