Anger is a healthy emotion. However, when it is not managed, it is one of the most destructive emotions we have. Whether our partner is the cause of our anger or not, we naturally lash out at the people closest to us and in the long term this can seriously jeopardise our relationships. Some of the following anger management tips may help.
Identify the feeling behind the anger
In my clinical experience, anger never seems to be the primary emotion. It may feel like getting angry with our partner is a natural reaction to some sort of aggravation. But if we take some time to unpack the feeling that gave rise to us getting angry or seeing red, you will usually find an underlying emotion.
For example, you may find yourself flying into a rage when your partner drives erratically and you have a near miss with another car. You feel angry, you feel rage! Your safety has been threatened. But if you thought about what you experienced in that split second before you exploded, you will recognise that the feeling was one of worry and fear. Or have you ever lost your temper, had a huge argument and then burst into tears? The underlying emotion here is sadness.
Think about what you are hiding from
Once we can establish the feeling we are masking, we can start to manage the secondary anger. We use this secondary anger as a defence against what may feel like painful or unbearable emotions to acknowledge. These are strategies we have learnt to use since we were babies. It’s the place we naturally go when we need to protect ourselves and cope with certain situations. If you anger easily, it’s likely you have taught yourself that anger is a more acceptable emotion to use.
It can be difficult to ‘unlearn’ these strategies. However, identifying the source of our anger creates awareness. A useful tip in this case would be to pay more attention to what triggers our anger. Once you are aware of the primary emotion, it could be easier for you to control the anger that follows.
Bringing this insight into your relationship
Instead of dealing with the vulnerability that feelings of fear, sadness, guilt or shame can cause, being angry with your partner will feel much easier. Next time you feel anger bubbling up with you partner, if you are able to, walk away. Removing yourself from the situation can give you some time to think about what is going on for you. It is important to remember that only you can control your anger. Although your anger may be directed at them, the emotion is yours.
For most couples, anger is not the problem. The problem is how the anger is dealt with. Anger is a defence, so trying to be open with your partner about the underlying cause can be a difficult conversation, but in doing this you are making yourself accountable. By owning your anger you are expressing yourself to you partner and encouraging an openness that could bring you closer to resolving your issues.
So talking to each other is key. If your anger issues are ignored, they will escalate. These feelings have to go somewhere. Without feeling heard you will feel resentful. This emotion goes hand in hand with anger. If we try bury our resentment and anger, it will almost certainly be communicated to our partners in other unhealthy ways.
If you’d like to find out more about anger in relationships or have a free consultation with me to see how I can help, email me at [email protected] to get started today.
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