We love the work that Dr Gary Chapman does around relationships and how to improve them. If you haven’t looked at his website you will find a lot of information here.
We were particularly interested in an email he sent stating that anger is real.
What does anger mean to you?
We all know that anger is a real thing that we feel. But, did you know that anger is a secondary emotion? It’s normally a reaction to feeling sad or frightened about something. Often we don’t like the feeling that the primary emotion brings and we get angry to push it away.
If you get so angry that you lose it that will have a big impact on your life and relationships. Similarly if you try to keep your anger inside you may become resentful and one day explode. What if we could find a more effective way to deal with the anger we feel? Wouldn’t that make life a lot easier and harmonious?
How do we deal with anger?
One of the first thing to do is to acknowledge when you feel angry. Not by shouting and screaming, but just accepting the fact that you feel angry. And allow other people around you to be angry too. The anger is an indicator that you feel that something is unfair.
How many of us use the stock phrase “I’m fine” when someone asks us what’s wrong? We try to convey what we are feeling by giving dirty looks or going into a huff. The other person may realise something is wrong but what if they pick the wrong reason? Or they may think that everything is indeed fine and that someone else has upset you. By acting in this way, communication breaks down. It makes it harder for you to feel affection for each other because you just can’t get close. This kind of discussion can be quite scary – especially if you are struggling to know where it is coming from in you.
How can I change what I do?
In order for things to change, you need to take responsibility to do things differently. There is no point in sitting back and waiting for your partner to do something differently. The only person you can change is yourself. But if you change the way you do things then the other person may respond differently.
Here is something you can try to get a different outcome to your discussions
- Pause – if you react straight away when you are feeling angry it will only make the situation worse.
- Understand – taking some time will help you to think about why you are angry. What frightened you or made you upset? Why did that make you so angry? The more you understand the easier it will be to explain.
- Responsibility – take responsibility for your own feelings. No one can make you feel a certain way – it’s your reaction to what they say to you which causes the feelings. But you can ask your partner to have a conversation with you about it.
- Plan – arrange a time to discuss what’s going on for you when you won’t be interrupted and you can give each other your full attention. No TV, no phones, no kids. Somewhere you both feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Open up – ask your partner to listen without interrupting and then explain what you feel. A good way to explain it to someone is by telling them “when you said or did X I felt Y. I was having a think about it and I think it’s because I felt frightened/something was unfair. I just wondered if you could explain what you meant.
- Sit back – once you have explained what you felt, then sit back and listen to what your partner wants to say to you. Give them your full attention and when they have finished, take a little time to reflect back what have heard them say.
- Expand on this great start to the discussion. Ask open questions and try not to bring up things from the past or use unhelpful statements.
Phrases like you always, you never, 3 years ago…….. Are very unhelpful. Try to keep to the topic and say things that are constructive. This is a great chance for you both to agree on the way forward.
Having PURPOSE can improve your relationship and reduce your anger.