All too often in our society anger has received a negative connotation, especially in our relationships, be it at work or in social situations. In romantic relationships in particular, partners often don’t take kindly to it. Anger, though, is a very important signal worth listening to, telling us that we are not aligned with ourselves.
A very important, I believe, point needs to be made here, right away; a point that comes across as inconvenient and well...leading to anger with some of the people I work with:
That’s right. Nobody or nothing on this planet has the power to make us angry except for ourselves. At most, others ad/or situations can be a trigger, a contributing factor yet, nothing or nobody has this power except for ourselves.
Pretty huge claim, some might say: “can you back this up in any way?”
Yes, I can and very easily. There are basically two stages in our “anger moment”, although the full psychological mechanism would require a depth and length of explanation that are beyond the scope of this article.
For more on how to deal with our anger in relationships, I invite you to download my FREE e-book, "In 4 steps, to a healthy romantic relationship". In it, I will show you 4 easy-to-learn steps that you can apply right away to create harmony between your partner and you. Click on the picture or follow this link.
We experience a situation
In a split second, we have some thinking processes going on in our heads and we decide what our reaction will be.
It is in the latter that the “problem”, if we can call it such, arises. Very often our thinking processes are happening in something akin to an automatic mode. In other words, we have conditioned, indeed programmed ourselves to act out a certain script when certain situations occur. For example, I remember that some time ago, I used to get insane when my partner-at-the-time changed the subject of the dialogue we were having.
I had taught myself to respond to this behavior of hers with the sentence: “she doesn’t listen to me!” and that drove me insane.
What of course I didn’t know at the time, because I hadn’t studied psychology yet, was that it was my sentence that was driving me berserk, and not the actual action of my partner. So, perhaps here you can see the nexus between the two bullet point and my example. Let’s go through it together:
We experience a situation: In this case of mine, the other person changing the subject of the dialogue.
In a split second, we have some thinking processes going on in our heads and we decide what our reaction will be: In my case, it was the “based-on-nothing” sentence in my head: “she doesn’t listen to me” that would set off my anger.
Net result of this behavior if kept up? Resentment, pain, eventually split between partners.
Note, once again that these three factors – resentment, pain, split - came about because of some mechanisms in my head; nothing to do with actual circumstances.
So, what to do about it?
Couple Mindfulness practice:
Practice recognizing your triggers and practice calling a break with yourself and your partner, out loud. In other words, when you are in a situation that you feel really, really intensely about and you see that anger is about to take you over, take the two aforementioned steps. Say out loud something like: “My partner, I am starting to feel really angry and I need to find out what I am telling myself about you. I am going to go for a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood. Then, ask yourself, for example: “What am I telling myself about this situation with my partner?” and “What am I telling myself about my partner?”. In the beginning this will be very hard, as it is not the behavior you are used to yet with time, as the saying goes: “practice makes the master”...:-). And if you haven't already, once again, I invite you to download my FREE e-book, "In 4 steps, to a healthy romantic relationship" by following this link.