You are so angry and you just want to tell that !#&*()#$! what you really think…and what you believe s/he needs to know!
Likely, that’s very unwise! Managing your anger is the most important issue at this moment. It’s a fleeting moment, don’t miss it.
Ask yourself: Where do I want to be with this relationship five minutes from now? If torching the relationship still seems like a good idea–and, you’re willing to live with the consequences–have at ‘er! If you’re willing to eat humble pie and come crawling back on your belly like a snake in an hour or two, have at ‘im! If you’re not, read on.
Opening your mouth when you’re fuming is seldom a good idea. You can’t be really angry and clear-headed at the same time. The body doesn’t work that way. The angrier you get the more brain dead you become. Well, maybe not brain dead, but you’re certainly not thinking as clearly and logically as you think you are!
(Scroll down to watch the video.)
When you cut yourself, your body doesn’t waste a lot of time deciding whether to start healing. It knows what to do to protect itself. The same is true when you get angry: your body goes into flight or fight mode and knows it has to take action to keep you safe. Safe from blowing a gasket, that is. Not safe from opening your mouth and setting all hell loose!
In increasing anger arousal, your body is focused on keeping your heart and lungs working for you. Your body wants you to survive any attack. Blood, then, moves from your extremities to keep that happening. Not rocket science to realize that it leaves your brain, too. Not so good for thinking!
Oh, yes, when you’re feeling righteous and you’ve got up a head of steam, you just want to tell it like it is. Yup! Let it all hang out. Leave no stone unturned. Let ‘er rip! And, it feels good in the moment because you are letting off all that pent-up emotion. You say things you’ve always wanted to say. No holds barred.
Now, you’ve blown things up. You walk away feeling righteous. Then, you start to come back to your senses–or the blood starts going back up into your head. You realize that you’ve had your say and you’ve said too much. You’ve ripped off someone’s arm and hit them with the wet end to make your point….but, they are left bleeding and you are the cause.
You’ve blurted and you’ve hurt. What now?
Anger is healthy. What you do with it is often not. Learn a new way.
Here’s what I tell my clients who want to be better at managing their anger:
- Have a quiet conversation with your partner (or other person) about your desire to work on your anger.
- Acknowledge that you have anger issues.
- Let him/her know that you are working to change how you handle it.
- Ask for your partner’s help and collaboration on this project.
- Share with your partner the strategy below that you will use to make things better when you’re feeling angry.
Next time you feel your body yelling that you are in anger arousal, do things differently.
Sincerely and honestly, say these four things to your partner:
- I feel myself getting angry.
- I care about the relationship.
- Therefore, I’m going to withdraw from the conversation and take some time to calm down.
- I’ll return in two hours* to talk about the issue, or make a time to talk about the issue with you.
Can you do that? Will you do that? It can save your relationship.
Recognizing that you’re getting angry is a great start.
Realizing that anger could blow up your relationship is awareness.
Removing yourself from the conversation in a respectful way (because you have already shared the strategy and your partner knows you’re going to do it) demonstrates your caring.
Returning when you are completely calm to work through your issue gives your relationship the best chance for deepening emotional intimacy. Yes, you’ll likely make a few false starts and have to repeat the four steps. Get relationship help, though. Get new insights and skills for managing this within yourself AND with your partner.
Do things differently to get a different result. Don’t let old habits and choices to fly off the handle rule your life and relationship. You can change all that.
Shift from “when you blurt, you hurt” to “when you care, you share!” You’ll feel so much more comfortable, competent, and confident. Who doesn’t want that!!
*Why two hours? That’s how long it takes to make sure that the blood has gone back into your head and you can think clearly again.