|How to Safely
by Dr. Steve
the most challenging relationship skills for anybody to master is how to safely and
effectively express their anger. For most people, even acknowledging that theyre
angry is hard enough. But to actually express their anger, well thats even more
unimaginable. So without the comfort or the skills to express ones anger, many
people have no other alternative but to swallow their anger, deny their anger, or turn
their anger against them in one form or another of such destructive emotional states or
behaviors as depression, alcoholism, affairs, or any other form of self-sabotage.
Because people are more comfortable stifling rather than expressing their anger very few
people are practiced at how to directly express their anger. As a result, most people deal
with their anger by: 1.) Denying their anger, 2.) Disowning their anger, 3.) Projectile
vomiting their anger on another person, and/or 4.) Acting out behaviorally their anger.
Im sure you
recognize the first method of coping with your own angerdenial. Your partner comes
up to you and says, Whats the matter, is anything bothering you. And of
course you reply through clenched teeth, No nothing at all. Why do you ask?
And so it goes, your partner probes and prods but you dont budge an inch.
Youre mad as hell, but, for whatever reason, youre not going to talk about it!
The second method of
coping, disowning your anger is much less obvious. Disowning your anger is a form of
denial where you arent even connected to feeling angry but somehow, someway it gets
expressed indirectly through ones tone of voice, facial expression, sarcastic
manner, or as a hidden message embedded in a seemingly innocent comment. So how can you
tell that youre expressing angry feelings if youve disowned the feeling? Does
your partner ever feel like theyve been cut off at the knees but claims they never
saw the weed whacker with which you cut them down to size? Does you partner look in the
mirror trying to figure out how to pull the knife out of their back that you have
surgically implanted but dont know how you put it there? Does your partner feel
beaten down by you, no matter how calm and serene you appear on the surface? When those
conditions exist between two people, its an easy bet that if one or both of you are
feeling the target of the other persons anger, then its likely that anger is
leaking out into the relationship.
The third method of coping with your angerprojectile vomiting, is something that we
all recognize. This is a style of expressing anger whereby the person expressing their
feelings does so by dumping them on the object of their anger. When one projectile vomits
their anger they mix in to the batch judgment, disrespect, blame, demeaning, diminishment,
and shame. The goal of projectile vomiting is similar to that of scorched earth policy
where nothing is left standing, no prisoners are taken.
The fourth method of
coping for expressing angeracting out behaviorally, is also known as passive
aggressive behavior. This form of expressing anger takes the form of just joking or
forgotten promises that are never kept or practical jokes that feel more mean
spirited than funny.
The question that you
must be asking yourself is what is the best way to express your anger. Although anger is a
feeling as normal as love and joy, its often treated like a three-headed monster.
Its likely that youve been taught that anger is an inappropriate emotion. As a
result, its likely that youre most comfortable when anger is kept out of your
relationships. But its important that you give you and your partner permission to
express your anger rather than act it out or suppress it altogether.
Let me offer you the
following suggestions. Just remember, although expressing your anger is never easy it can
be easier for you if you follow some simple dos and donts.
Bridge Builders Checklist
1.) Commit to having clearly defined limits that distinguish the expression of anger
from the acting out of rage and violence.
2.) Commit to honoring your partners dignity.
3.) Commit to focusing on how you were affected by the event or circumstance that
precipitated your anger.
4.) Commit to focusing on behavior rather personality.
5.) Commit to expressing yourself in I statements rather than You
6.) Commit to not blaming your partner.
7.) Commit to not attacking your partner.
8.) Commit to not belittling your partner.
9.) Commit to not throwing old history at your partner.
10.) Commit to not editorializing about the quality of your partners character.
11.) Commit to not interpreting your partners motivation.
12.) Commit to not analyzing your partners character.
13.) Commit to not using the words of your partner against them.
14.) Commit to not issuing ultimatums.
For more information
about how to resolve conflict in your relationships read my free online book, Making
Molehills Out of Mountains.