This week I have been deeply touched by a number of you sharing deeply personal stories about your own experiences with anger and rage. I have heard from people wrestling with the impact of someone else’s anger expressions but I have also heard from people who know that they might be the one expressing anger in ways that may hurt people they love.
Although I’m coming from a place of having to learn to express anger, I have learned a few things over the years that are relevant for those of you wanting to get better at expressing anger in ways that respect your relationships more.
1. It is rarely true that your point will be lost by not expressing it immediately.
Truly, having time to reflect on what you want to say and on how you are feeling can bring better clarity and can allow you to be more succinct when you share it. That urgency you feel to have to express yourself right now is most likely a reflection of an area that you may want to work on - in emotional intelligence work we call it “Impulse Control”. It’s about not needing to act on that impulse right now but knowing you will not lose anything by waiting and reflecting.
2. What you consider a passionate expression of your true feelings may cross the line and be a true hurting of someone else.
Growth is not about being less aware of your feelings or about being less passionate. It is about learning how to be heard more effectively when you are expressing them. When we escalate our message by threatening body language such as yelling or slamming or throwing things, we offer a choice to the person we are connecting with: fight or flight. Even highly trained professional mediators still experience this - it is deeply human.
Either the other person will respond back with escalated anger or they will find a way to protect themself. Either way, they are no longer able to hear you. Not only that but now you do not feel safe to them and emotional distance has likely been created.
3. It is easy to get so caught up in being heard and wanting to make our point that we don’t even notice how the way we are communicating is alienating and hurting the people we love the most in the world.
Have you noticed that once your passionate anger or rage kicks in you really are not very good at reading the body language of the person you are yelling at? It really does become all about you and you getting heard.
4. If the result you want is better understanding - for both parties - pick a time that you can both come able to talk.
The surprise attack or insisting on talking something through right then may indeed give you psychological advantage - what you win is the argument, possibly, but what you lose is intimacy, respect and the chance to really love how you communicated.
5. Taking turns sharing and being really heard on our point before allowing a response.
This is a great way to slow it down and make sure both parties get heard. The LAER model is a fantastic way to practice this. (Link below) Be courageous and even offer to be the first to listen. (This takes strength and a belief that if you listen well you will actually be listened to better by the other person.)
This is just scratching the surface. As I said last week, if this is an area you struggle with, it is so worth getting support while you work on changing!!!
A year and a half ago I sat with my Dad on his deathbed and heard him talk about how he had really wished he had learned this in his life. Believe me, many tears were shed.
Reach out please, if I can help.
Until next week,
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