Anger is a curious thing.
We all know what it’s like to feel annoyed with someone close to us. To have the ensuing conversation “not go well.” Or to do or say things we regret.
We never want this to happen. Yet it easily can.
And why is it so hard to express yourself. What “they did” makes you feel terrible yet you can’t explain why. Not really.
You could put a psychiatrist’s couch through the holes in your argument. But do you stop? Of course not. You have to sort this out. You can’t have this bad feeling happen again.
So you yell louder. Sulk harder. Talk longer.
And before you know it you’ve spent three hours with the person you love more than anyone – also the person who you want to dig you more than anyone – driving home chip-eating etiquette.
You want to feel close, but things feel weird.
There are various ways we’re taught to deal with anger: from calming techniques to learning how to express yourself in a non-yelly or non-sulky way.
The problem is, these techniques can miss the point and are often just a sneaky way of blaming someone else for how YOU feel.
The reason anger is so challenging and confusing is because most people don’t understand what’s really going on.
Here are 3 insights to deal with anger in a way that truly helps you get over it and doesn’t cause havoc in your relationship:
1. The biggest mistake people make
Water boils at 100 degrees. Not on the odd occasion, but every single time. It’s a law of physics.
(On the other hand, a coffee pot without water left on a hot element while you excitedly fill out a form – because you like filling out forms – does not boil, it just fills the room with smoke, sets off the smoke alarm, and gets so hot the handle falls of and the coffee pot gets glued together. Yesterday.)
Here’s another law: Your anger really has very little to do with the other person.
Your anger is a reflection of your lack of self worth around something. Even though in the heat of the moment, it never seems like it.
But see that’s the trick your mind plays on you – your mind will always tell you your pain is because of someone or something else. But it’s not. It’s about a belief you have; a belief about your self-worth.
Whenever you feel annoyed it’s more likely someone has bumped into one of these beliefs, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
And like any self-respecting iceberg most of the bulk lies beneath the water: a lifetime of experiences mixed with faulty interpretations.
Sometimes anger is triggered by a large event, like infidelity or loss, other times it might be as simple as being asked to bake two cakes for the church fair when everyone else only has to bake one.
Your partner is your teammate, not your clone and you will naturally have different beliefs and opinions about things. But when there is rage attached, the real issue is yours.
It’s the same for everyone. We all have our icebergs. This isn’t about blame; it’s about being real about what’s going on.
2. Dealing with the insanity
Anger is a classic case of imbalance between your heart and your mind.
Your mind is all yelling and everything (or sulking, which is kind of the same thing)
But your heart is still talking in its regular sized voice.
Only you can’t hear it because of all the noise your mind is making.
Feeling annoyed is like a temporary insanity; you simply don’t have access to your full arsenal of inner wisdom and guidance – to feelings of love and compassion, to the bit of you that can see possibilities and solutions.
All you have is a mind out of control. This is why anger can be so confusing. This is why when you’re angry, you know you love the other person yet you can’t feel it.
Trying to communicate when you’re angry is not only a waste of time but you run the risk of being unkind. Sometimes the initial grievance pales in comparison to how ugly your reaction is. Anyway, most of what you’re annoyed about is your issue only you’re too hopped up to tell the difference.
As much as you think you need to sort things out immediately, you don’t. And frankly, you’re not equipped to. Ignore your mind, and wait: Go for a run, take a bath or curl up with a tub of Häagen Dazs and binge watch some Breaking Bad.
And if you’re the one being yelled at, it’s not mandatory you remain in the conversation.
When you’ve calmed down. Pitchforks in eyes have dissolved. It’s far easier to untangle the real issue from your trigger point.
This isn’t about suppressing feelings or staying in a relationship when it’s time to leave, learning to manage anger is about dealing with issues, big and small, in a loving compassionate way. Using all your faculties.
3. Why you don’t need to know WHY
And so we come to the berg beneath the water – the insecurity that caused you to fly off the handle in the first place.
The question is: What do you do to “fix yourself” so this never happens again?
In truth, you’ve already done a lot. Acknowledging that your anger is your gig is a huge thing. Not letting the issue spew all over your partner is another monumental thing.
Your mind is all
Ignoring that tirade is job enough.
We live in a world that likes to analyze everything. It’s how we think we can heal and move on. But it’s not. The better way is to have a little bit of understanding and then let the healing happen on its own.
Generally speaking what you’re annoyed at in the other person is exactly what you’re angry with yourself about. Same same.
But more important is to know – beneath your thoughts you love yourself completely. Beneath your thoughts you have no insecurities. All your insecurities lie in old beliefs you’ve picked up and carry with you.
The problem is only in your mind. Which is good. Because the thoughts in your head will pass soon enough. that’s what thoughts do, come and go. Best to wait for this angry bunch to pass before doing anything.
When you faithfully respond to all your angry thoughts as if they’re real, you feed the faulty beliefs and insecurities. Ignore them, and your Iceberg of Insecurity melts a little.
And, it’s much less embarrassing.
PS: Does this resonate with you? Do you know what I mean about those strange conversations that go round in circles? Love to hear your thoughts!!
Is Your Anger Messing Up Your Relationship?