Unmanaged anger can damage relationships. In the moment you might do or say something you know is wrong, but you just can’t help it. What you get back only makes it worse. You can see the spiral of anger rise higher, but you feel powerless to do anything about it. 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 its wrong, but you can’t back down. Later you see what you have done, you have hurt someone you love, driven them away, you want to undo the past, but you can’t. You promise to change, you want to change, but you don’t know how.
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 a change. You cannot change other people. You can ask for their help and you can explain what is going on for you, but YOU are the one that must change.
It is possible to change but you may need some help. The anger can be tackled in two stages:
Stage one: Manage the anger
You can learn what is going on; how to sense the anger rising and take steps to control it. These steps are:
- Recognition: Be on the look out 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 you: what is happening to me, do I feel under attack, am I really being attacked? What do I need from them?
- 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; 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, has 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.