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Julie Morrell, MFT


I often see an Inner rebel in someone abruptly arrive on the scene when I am doing couples counseling work. Obviously couples who seek couples counseling, will often feel not only frustrated but also rebellious toward each other. I am sure that’s not surprising to you, right?

While they are in session with me perhaps a story of what happened between them isn’t told quite right by the other, so there is eye rolling, and heaving sighing. Or a partner’s interpretation of what really happened irritates the other, and suddenly the inner rebel of one or both parties appears on the scene.

When in a relationship an inner rebel could simply pop into the counseling room because things are not going our way. Or we feel bored, trapped or disrespected in some manner. Someone’s inner rebel can be triggered to arrive on the scene simply because of needing to deal with some injustice that is or was perceived. It might not be a real injustice, but if it’s perceived as real it does explain the confusing indignant behavior that might suddenly take place. This could be very perplexing to the spouse who didn’t intend for an injustice to be perceived.

Have you ever thought about your own inner rebel and what happens in your life to bring your inner rebel out?

Think about this, what happens in your life that makes you not want to be cooperative or respectful to your partner or a co-worker?  What makes you not want to be kind and gentle to the people around you? Is it because you feel your partner or co-worker isn’t or wasn’t considering your feelings? That’s usually what does it.

The Inner Rebel can get you into serious trouble when you are in an important relationship. You might talk back to your boss or lash out at someone you care about. Either with your words or your behavior states, “I don’t care about your feelings.” And not saying anything can be just as rebellious as calling someone names.

The silent treatment is also not a sign of maturity either. Although sometimes, it’s a good and wise to be silent in the heat of the moment to not say something in anger that you might regret later.

I have heard couples recently call each other names like you are insane, ( when they clearly are not) but it’s a way of exhibiting the inner discontent and rebelliousness to what may currently be going on.

And obviously this is not a way to handle things with maturity and respect.

The release of pent up anger or energy and calling people names or exhibiting your distaste for them might feel good in the moment, but it could cost you or job or the relationship in the long run.

And if your friends see you handle your partner in this way, they will then get a sense of how you might handle a conflict with them in the future. So you have to consider is that what you really want?

Learning mature communication skills will make such a huge difference but these mature skills are hard to employ when someone is triggered to emotionally feel that an injustice has taken place.

So then it might mean that we may need to figure out what negative childhood experiences might be influencing how we are reacting to our partner and co-worker.

An unhealed childhood experience that might have left you feeling enraged, disrespected, or powerless might be the driving force of causing your rebel side to take over an interaction.

So think about this, who is in control here? The mature side of you, or your rebel side?

Maybe your parents often told you to be nice to someone who wasn’t nice to you, or maybe your parents didn’t support you in some important ways in your childhood and that anger toward them is still leaking into your current relationships. Maybe your parents didn’t have mature communication with each other, so no one modeled for you how to do that. Or maybe your voice was not heard by your parents when you were a child and so you learned to not speak up for yourself because it didn’t make a difference.

Or you felt like you had to be really different to be noticed or heard.

Or maybe your parents did not place importance on your childhood thoughts and opinions and you were not considered or taken seriously, so you again learned to not speak up for yourself, or the opposite you learned to be oppositional in quiet or aggressive ways to get attention.

Often times these childhood strategies worked for you in childhood, however, if you are still employing these strategies perhaps they are not working so good at this juncture in your life.

As surprising as it might be the energy of your rebel side has a good part to it too. Use this energy to be creative.

Think about how you canstand for something, rather than rebel against. Often times in therapy we together have to work through how the rebel gets activated in unhealthy ways, and figure out ways to heal the rebel and learn some healthy ways to calm down the rebel part of you. So the rebel works with you and not against you.

Maybe there is a cause that your rebel side can embrace. Maybe you can make your rebel side work for you rather than against you by adding more balance in to your life.

Maybe you can learn to give your rebel some creative space to take part in politics, sports, or a charity that could use you. And/or maybe you can heal the hurt little rebel inside by learning to ask for what you want in a clear, mature, direct way. Often times the rebel doesn’t realize that all we have to do is simply ask for what we want. Others won’t always comply, but they definitely won’t comply when a hidden wish or desire remains unexpressed. The evidence of the rebel part having grown up is that when triggered this part has learned to communicate it’s needs in an adult respectful way. ~

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”

Quote by Dorothy Nevill


Julie Morrell, MFT