Thursday, June 3, 2010
What Do You DoWith Your Anger? continued
In my last post, I wrote about the power of anger. In this post I write about some of the ways anger can be handled so that it has a better chance of being heard and responded to.
Here are some of the options I use. You decide what's best for you.
Pick your battles. Decide what you can let pass, and what you really need to address. And when you address it, preface it by saying something like, "I need your help and some uninterrupted time with you. I have been holding something back and I think I need to share it with you. It may be hard to hear, but if I don't talk about it, that will be worse. This is all in the spirit of clearing the air. When would it be a good time to talk?" By framing it in this way and by including your partner in deciding when to talk, you give him some sense of control and reduce the instantaneous defensiveness which could otherwise erupt.
Write it down. In your journal. In a letter you don't send. Write fearlessly without stopping. After you see what you have written, you can pick out the pieces that can form a more coherent message. That's the message to share, not the rant.
Talk it out with a neutral party -- a friend or a counselor. This is the safe place to unleash full bore emotion. When it's run its course, extract the message to share with your partner, find a quiet time, and frame it well.
Shout it out. Find a time when you are alone. Go to the room in which you feel the safest. Shout out your anger. Say all the things your feel and think, no matter how hurtful and ugly they sound. Shout out: "I hate you." "You're a (expletive of your choosing) ." "I can't go on like this anymore." Drain yourself. If you're concerned the neighbors will hear you, shout into a pillow or into your mattress. Then extract the key messages and set up a time to talk with your partner.
The purpose of these options is not to strip out all emotion from your message. You should not neutralize all your energy and become robotic. The purpose is to get clarity.
Anger is a loud emotion and can drown out wisdom. Anger can drive you to win the battle and lose the peace. If you no longer care about your partner and only want to obliterate him and any chance of reconciliation, then blast away. But if you want to be heard, if you want your partner to try to behave differently, if you want to build a bridge, then blasting won't get you there. Do what you can to divest your rage of its venom. Then approach your partner, with a cleaner anger, with clarity about what you need, and with the love that makes you want to stay connected.
What do you do with anger?