In this article, I discuss the attractiveness of ruminating on self-righteous anger and the high price of doing so.


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes.

The appeal of focusing on self-righteous anger reminds me of the lure of the sirens in Greek mythology. The seductive song of the sirens was so pleasurable to sailors that they were lured to their deaths.

Like the sirens, self-righteous anger can be seductive and pleasurable. It feels good internally to express to others and to yourself that you are in the right and one or more others are wrong. Being able to ‘vent’ to supportive listeners in such circumstances feels good as we are validated for our views and opinions.

Unfortunately, as with the sirens there is a cost to focusing on thoughts which fuel self-righteous anger. The cost is so high that this is a behaviour which I encourage people to manage—not necessarily by eliminating it but by avoiding ruminating or dwelling on it. In the following sections, I will discuss these costs.

The costs of ruminating on self-righteous anger

1. It takes an emotional and physical toll on you

Ruminating on self-righteous anger can literally eat away at you emotionally and physically—keeping the ‘fight or flight’ stress response in your body in overdrive on an ongoing basis. This can take a physical toll on you and leave you vulnerable to stress-related physical health issues.

2. It decreases your ability to focus on tasks and perform effectively

Ruminating on self-righteous anger interferes with your concentration and focus on tasks in various domains including work/school, home, sports, music and many others. Not being able to give your full attention to these tasks can lead to decreased performance.

3. It detracts from your enjoyment of pleasurable activities

Ruminating on self-righteous anger also interferes with your ability to immerse yourself in pleasurable activities so that your enjoyment of these activities decreases. In turn, this can have a negative effect on your mood and your enjoyment of life.

4. It impairs your social relationships

Ruminating on self-righteous anger also interferes with your ability to immerse yourself in enjoyable social interactions with people such as relationship partners, family and friends. This results in decreased enjoyment of these interactions both for you and for the people with whom you interact. In turn, this can have a negative effect on the quantity and quality of your social relationships.

5. It leads to a cycle of negativity

In terms of the law of attraction, ruminating on self-righteous anger leads you to give off negative vibrations or ‘vibes’ which occurs whenever you are experiencing negative emotions. Doing so leads you to attract more negativity to you including negative events and negative behaviours displayed toward you. This leads you to experiencing more negative emotions as the cycle of negativity unfolds. This ultimately detracts from your enjoyment of life.

In my next article, I will discuss strategies you can use to avoid ruminating on self-righteous anger.

May you avoid ruminating on self-righteous anger,

-Dr. Pat