ERP 018: How To Deal With Feelings Of Anger In Relationship

By Posted in - Podcast June 4th, 2015 0 Comments

Show Notes: Be sure to listen to the episode to hear stories, examples, and more tips.

emoticons-154050_1280 copyIn this episode, we are exploring how to deal with feelings of anger in relationship.

Anger is a healthy, normal, and natural emotion. Anger is a cue. It lets us know that something is hurting us or has crossed a line. The way we deal with anger makes it destructive or constructive.

Anger is often a secondary emotion. Meaning, there is a primary emotion underneath the anger, like feeling hurt or scared. Anger usually shows up when we are feeling protective or defensive.

Stereotypically, men are more comfortable with anger than women. Men tend to be able to access the fight or dominant mode more easily. Women tend to avoid getting angry, as to not hurt someone’s feelings. Women will tend to prioritize the relationship over expressing their anger. Louann Brizendine discussed the neurological science behind these findings in The Female Brain.

Most of us do not know how to deal with anger effectively or constructively. With my clients, I sometimes ask them, “how was anger dealt with in your family growing up?” Most people say, “it wasn’t.” Or, some people will say, “not well.”

Here are some common ineffective approaches:

  • Avoiding anger leads to more tension and build up within the relationship.
  • Blowing up when angry can feel scary and unsafe to our partners.
  • Passive aggression is confusing and hurtful to our partners

conversation-545621_1280These methods result in little resolution and can negatively impact levels of trust and emotional safety within the relationship. Research shows that just venting and expressing anger is not that helpful, and that it can sometimes make us even more angry.

Learning constructive ways to dealing with our anger is critical. It promotes individual health and well-being. It supports the success and intimacy within relationship. A couple will be able to experience  more resolution with their conflicts, and they will become stronger, closer, and more evolved as a couple (by dealing with anger constructively).

Choice point: How am I going to react or respond? How am I going to deal with this situation? How am I going to deal with my anger?

Six Step Approach:

1. Recognize:

2. Identify:

  • How upset am I?
  • Red zone: fight, flight, or freeze
  •  1-10
  • Traffic light
  • Traffic lightLabel or name it. “I am angry.”
  • Regulate and calm the nervous system
  • Slow down
  • Breathing (6-2-7)
  • Clear thinking

3. Inquiry:

  • Seek to understand
  • Be curious without blame
  • What happened?
  • What am I really angry about?
  • Take global anger and look for specific content.
  • Ask yourself what does this remind me of? Or what does this bring up for me? Look at the first thing that pops in your mind. How might this be related to my current situation?

4. Self-regard:

love-683403_12805. Need:

6. Moving forward:

  • What could I do to get my needs met in the future?
  • What can I ask for?
  • What boundaries do I need to set?

Thank you for listening. If you have more ideas or thoughts, I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment below.

If you missed my discussion of the Stages Of Intimacy on Bruce Van Horn’s podcast, Life Is A Marathon, you can check it out here. I had a great time talking with him.

If you have a topic that you would like me to discuss or a situation that you would like me to speak to, please contact me by clicking on the “Ask Dr. Jessica Higgins” button here. Thank you so much for being interested in improving the quality of your relationship.

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