Angry or upset?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Rachel Wesley, BSc (Hons), PG (Dip) in Counselling, Registered Member MBACP
12th November, 2010
Why is it that men say they are angry when in fact they are feeling scared and women often talk about being upset when they are angry?
The number of male clients I see (either on their own or as part of a couple) reconfirms the different emotional language that men and women use and how society influences our choice of feelings-type words.
Male clients will often refer themselves for anger management counselling when in fact they are experiencing loss or have anxiety issues. Female clients will often refer to feeling ‘low’ or ‘anxious’ when in fact they are feeling rightful anger. This anger may have been buried inside rather than expressed in a healthy way often in large part creating the depressive state the client presents with.
In hetrosexual relationship counselling, a male partner will often feel that he is automatically to blame if his female partner is upset and will react in anger towards her when he is unable to quickly ‘fix the problem’. Sometimes there is a problem that can be fixed but equally often there isn’t – it’s just a complex set of circumstances or perhaps he just came home with the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ ie “sorry but I forgot the milk”. However the truth and real reasons so easily get lost in the immediate argument that ensues.
The dynamic of each couple’s relationship is unique and even as a therapist I recognise that I only get a tiny glimpse of the real relationship that goes on behind closed doors and in the private exchanges. Hopefully though therapy can untangle the web of unspoken issues that may simmer underneath the surface and help the couple communicate in a way that each understands. Feeling anger becomes “I am angry”, anxiety becomes “I am scared” and low is “I am sad” whoever says it.
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