Let's talk about anger
Photo credit goes to Dmitri Ulitin.
This week we are looking at another uncomfortable emotion. Anger. Oh what fun, now what?
I have heard from more than one parent, ( me included), that we are shocked at how angry we can get at our little ones! Or spouses are shocked at the unleashing of anger at each other. And yet, we do experience anger, don't we? If we are honest?
So with this uncomfortable emotion, wouldn't it be best to get rid of it?
Last week we looked at sadness. When someone is sad, we we want to comfort. We want to go to that person and help them. Not so with anger. We are pulling away, because it signals danger.
When anger is triggered, it is very hard to override it with our best intentions.
As a parent and spouse, my question to myself and to you is :" How do I want to show up ? What kind of parent/spouse do I want to be? "
If we want to show up with kindness we need to think ahead of time and know how we would like to respond to a given situation. That means we need to do some prep work, ahead of time.
For example, when we feel triggered and the anger is filling us up like a surge, it is very healthy to remove yourself from the situation for a while. As Russel Kolts, PhD says :
"I'm not shutting you out, I'm shutting me in."
It is very important that we take responsibility for it. We need to be careful not to shame others or ourselves either. Like :" I'm such a terrible parent/spouse."
Russel also points out that, for men, it might have been the only emotion they were allowed to show as a boy."He's all boy," is something you might have heard or said . It is also encouraged in sports like hockey or football. In Brene Brown's book "Daring Greatly" , she found in her research that boys are often not allowed to show fear, and they turn that fear into a more " acceptable" form of emotion. Anger. Many carry that into adulthood. Few ever search for the underlying fear that is causing it.
Anger in nature is aggressive.
I love Russel's quote:
"Anger is a wonderful sign and a terrible strategy."
Anger tells you something is not right.
We also say unhelpful things like ;"You don't have a right to get angry." Or what about our girls? Do we tell them that anger is not lady like?
So am I saying to express anger unfiltered? Not at all.
I encourage you to identify it. Name it. To a child I might say:" You look like you are feeling angry." As an adult, we need to recognize it and notice it when we feel angry.
That's the first step and then take a few slow breaths. Step back and remove yourself if needed. Dr. Gottman found in his research that it takes a couple about 20 minutes to return to regular breathing and heart rate.
I leave you with this question: "How do I want to respond?"
My new mantra is :
relationship over rules
connection over control.
Send me an email or text if you would like me to help you name and tame your anger.
You are loved. Deeply loved. Loved beyond measure.
Until next time,