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?


Toni said...

Barbara: I like all of the options you give. Anger is such a powerful emotion that it helps to have a lot of choices in how to deal with it. One of the things I do is to use a mindfulness practice that I call "drop it." I find that if I can drop the anger for just a few seconds, I can begin to find some space around it and "breath" again. So I bring it up clearly in my mind and then silently say "drop it." Then I let my attention move to whatever sensory input is there in the present moment. It might be a sound, a sight, the feel of the blanket on me, a nice odor coming from the kitchen. Anything that's right here in the present. It's a way of bringing my mind and body into the same place. My mind was off in anger but my body was experiencing some kind of sensory input. If I bring my mind "to" the body, so to speak, I find the anger loses some of its power.

Barbara K. said...

Hi Toni - your anger mitigation approach is brilliant. I love the idea of crating space around it to breath. I am definitely going to borrow this method.

dietary health said...

I definately agree with all of these statements. I especially like the ideas of writing it down on a piece of paper, talking it out with a neutral party, and shoting. I prefer to do it in a quiet place or in the car where no one will hear me or will never see me again. xD


Diz said...

Thanks for these suggestions. Breathing and walking meditation is usually what I do with mine... though sometimes, sadly, I just suppress it. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia four years ago, and I have been struggling daily just to get out of bed and go about my day. The treatments in the book "Beat Sugar Addiction Now!" by Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum ( have made a huge difference in my life. I am not cured, but my symptoms are much less and I have a lot less aching and less pain..........I feel that the SHINE protocol which is described in detail here has made such a huge improvement in my quality of life. I was surprised to see thatt he author had suffered with this same condition and had used the treatments he describes here to treat himself and to get himself well enough to complete medical school and live a good life. Knowing that he has been where I have been makes all the difference as far as I am concerned. Dr. T is one of the foremost experts on Fibromyalgia and CFS in the country - be sure to follow him on Twitter:

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on this topic by accidentally on purpose. Thank you! It is so apropos to what I struggle with in my marriage to a very strong-minded man.

Most recently, we had a disagreement when I requested that he hold the steering wheel with at least one hand when he's driving. To begin with, he is very expressive with his hands when he's excitedly talking about something, and has just recently developed a habit of doing so in the car, which makes me very nervous. Let's just say that the request didn't go over very well despite trying to approach the subject using an "I feel..." statement and neutral language. I was livid by the time he was done with his truly irrational response.

When we got home, I spent some time in the yard and then the bedroom using a version of your "shout it out" technique. I didn't shout my feelings but I did say them out loud, which helped to dissipate some of the bottled disgust and frustration I had. I will probably use this technique more in the future, along with working with a counselor (for more than just anger issues).