Anger that destroys relationships
Raw anger can damage relationships. In the moment, you might do or say something you know is wrong, but you feel like you just can’t help it. What you get back only makes it worse. You can see the spiral of anger rising higher and higher, but you feel powerless to do anything to stop it or fix things.
Perhaps you say or do things you know you will regret. In the middle of this storm you feel driven on, but part of you knows what is happening is wrong, but you can’t back down.
Later you see what you have done; you have hurt someone you love and driven them away. You want to undo what has happened, what has been said and done, but you can’t. You promise to change. You want to change, but... you don’t know how.
Accepting your anger
First, you must see that this is your anger. Other people do not “make you angry”. You respond to a trigger, and you become angry. It is your responsibility to make the move towards positive change. Just as you cannot change other people, other people cannot change you. You can ask for their help, and you can explain what is going on for you, but you are the one that must change.
Making positive changes
It is possible to change, but you may need some help. The anger can be tackled in two stages. You can learn what is going on; how to sense the anger rising and take steps to control it.
Stage one: Managing your anger
- Recognition - be on the lookout for triggers that start the emotional build up.
- Pause - take a 'time-out', and force yourself to look at what is going on and ask questions about yourself, eg: what is happening to me? Do I feel under attack? Am I really being attacked? What do I need from them?
Ask questions about your partner - what is going on for the other? What might they be feeling? What do they need from me?
- Defuse - take a defusing action to break the anger spiral. Stop attacking; ask about their needs and state your needs.
Stage two: Deal with the source
The steps above will help break the cycle and let you manage your anger, but to really deal with it, you need to understand where it comes from. The anger is your inner rage being vented on others. You are like a thin-skinned volcano. You can toughen the skin, as described above, but you really need to calm the rage, to cool the volcano. This can only be done by tracing the source of the rage. Something has been lost, and the loss has hurt you and made you feel under attack.
This is the work of counselling; to have a guide who can help you explore the source of this rage and the underlying beliefs that stoke. Once these have been uncovered they can be examined and tamed. It is a process that takes time, but one that will pay off. You can feel calmer, more in control all of the time.
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