When You or Someone You Love Gets Angry
Anger is one of the hardest emotions to handle - let alone express. It can destroy relationships and self-esteem. If you're concerned about your anger or someone else's you're in the right place!
Anger is still considered a "taboo" emotion because it's thought of as a negative emotion. Exploding in anger or stuffing feelings are typical but they lead to problems.
This blog shows you how to handle anger, recognize it early and get simple tools that work!
How was anger viewed in your family?
- Children should be seen and not heard.
- Feeling angry isn't okay.
- Only adults can be angry.
- Women are viewed negatively when angry.
- Anger is scary and people can get physically hurt.
- Disagreements lead to trouble.
- Conflict should be avoided at all costs.
What You Were Taught
If you're silently laughing right now, join the club. I don't know anyone that learned how to handle anger well growing up. Learning how you deal with anger decreases stress and makes relationships healthier.
Emotions Connected to Anger
There are many different emotions associated with anger. These are some feelings related to anger which may surprise you. Which ones do you relate to?
Do you notice that when you're irritable your focus becomes negative? These feelings build until you deal with them directly. Unexpressed upset leaks out in passive aggressiveness and resentment. Feeling annoyed is okay, letting it fester isn't.
Holding onto past hurt leads to resentment. This can go on for years until you reach your limit. As the person feeling the resentment, you suffer the most. Ironically, the other person usually has no idea. Not speaking up keeps the negative, victim story alive.
Accountability changes that story because admitting your behavior often lessens the resentment. Acknowledging your part helps you feel more empathetic which promotes resolution.
Feeling like a martyr
Feeling like you're being taken advantage of is a sign of martyrdom. Thinking that no one understands you becomes the story. You may fall into self-pity but it is the attachment to suffering and telling the story over and over again that defines martyrdom. Telling these stories is emotionally exhausting and can drive friends and family away.
(This should not be true if you are a victim of abuse.)
Sometimes anger is easier because admitting hurt feels more vulnerable. Expressing hurt is a not sign of weakness. Those are old beliefs that no longer serve you. They bind you into silence.
Stuffing the hurt increases stress and relationship problems. Often, partners are unaware of your hurt which creates emotional distancing.
Exploding anger or rage has lasting consequences in relationship by creating severe trust issues, terror, poor role modeling for children, and abuse. Admitting you or someone you love needs help is the first step.
If you simmer...
- Pay attention and rate your stress level.
- Are you holding on to resentments?
- Speak up early if you're upset.
- Use journal writing to express yourself.
- Get it out of your body and exercise!
- Use meditation to get in touch with feelings and release them.
If you explode...
- Watch your stress level throughout the day.
- Rate it from 1-10 1 being not stressed to 10 being enraged.
- Know your triggers, what tends to provoke your anger?
- When you know your triggers, plan ahead to do something to calm down.
- Use time- outs EARLY to avoid yelling or abusive behaviors.
What does anger feel like?
- Physical signs - rapid heart rate, sweating, muscle tension, teeth clenched, stomach or head aches
- Emotional signs- feelings of irritability, annoyance, frustration, helpless, powerless, fear, self pity, martyrdom
- Behavioral signs - pacing, swearing, throwing things, slamming doors, walking out etc.
Check Your Tone
One of the first things I notice is their tone. You can tell a lot about a person's stress level in how they speak.
You may be totally unaware of your tone until it leaks out. Changing tone of voice can greatly improve communication. If you sound pleasant, it sets a different tone - especially with difficult people.
What to do?
Helpful tools to handle anger effectively and avoid abuse:
- Rate your stress level from 1-10 (10 being rage) throughout the day
- Avoid swearing and "you" statements
- Be accountable for any part you played
- Walk away if the conversation gets intense (be sure to tell your partner first)
- Communicate your feelings before they pile up
- Get regular exercise to relieve tension
- Get a hug, studies show it helps
- State your feeling then a fact - I feel upset when you are late. No judgements or attacks
According to John and Julie Gottman, there is a fight or flight response that happens when you get angry or emotionally flooded. Your body starts to sweat, heart rate goes up, you may feel blank or confused. The brain cannot process information at that point. The ability to hear what your partner is saying is greatly reduced. This is the worst time to try sorting things out.
How to Protect Yourself from Someone Else's Anger
If you are in an unsafe situation, make a safety plan. Gather money, extra car keys, a bag of clothes, important documents and keep them in your car. If you have been abused or feel threatened call 911 or the police for help. There are support services available.
If you're afraid of other people's anger here are some suggestions.
- Breathe and use positive self talk
- Make sure you have plenty of physical space from them
- Don't take it personally, it's not about you (even if they say it is)
- You cannot MAKE someone angry
- You can only control how you respond
- I statements work well to avoid escalation
- Take a time-out if you feel uncomfortable
- Avoid telling the other person to take a time out
What's one thing that you could practice today about your anger?
Check out my free 5 day email course on anger. Click below to get access now!