Hopefully, in the previous post on anger, you were able to learn a bit about how you tend to respond to anger. Now that you have had a chance to explore your anger style, this post focuses on how to resolve anger once you feel it.
If you are not noticing your anger, you have no way to be aware when your anger is creeping up. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one?” So how do we become aware of our anger? Assess your anger as a scientist assesses results of an experiment. Ask your self the following questions…
- “On a scale of 1-10, how angry am I?”
- “What was happening right before I became angry” (list everything no matter how arbitrary it seems, you never know what patterns you may begin seeing)
- “Why do I feel angry?” – surprisingly, this can be really hard at times. We get so wound up, especially if we hold our frustrations and anger inside, that we forget what originally made us upset in the first place.
Express How You Feel
So that you can do not continue to hold your anger in, or even if you need practice expressing your anger in an acceptable way, there are certain ways of telling someone how you feel without being passive or aggressive. We want to tell the person how we feel, what we think, and what we need or want. This can be done using “I statements“
Remember, we cannot control others, but we can control our own responses. When we say “you make me so mad” we are giving the other person control over us. We are assigning blame and downplaying the importance of our feeling. To regain our control, and to be assertive, it is much more productive to say, “I feel frustrated and disrespected when you do not help me with the laundry.” When we start explaining how we feel to the other person, the focus stays on each person’s feeling and interpretation instead of who is more to blame for something.
Decide What You Want
After you have explained how you feel, tell the other person what would help ease your uncomfortable feeling. However, before you tell the other person how you feel, you may need some time to think about what would make you feel better.
So after saying, “I feel frustrated and disrespected when you do not help me with laundry. I would like it if you would at least offer to help with it once in a while.” No matter what you are talking about, what you want may not always be something the other person is able, or willing to do; however, it should at least get the discussion going. This will allow productive communication to flow, instead of each person becoming defensive and argumentative.
After you have expressed your thoughts, feelings, needs, and/or wants to the other person, it’s very important that you give them a chance to respond. When they do respond, actively listen to what they are saying. If the other person is not able to give you what you want or need, acknowledge that they are not able to this, and start working on a negotiation on what the resolution could be. Remember – allrelationships, whether family, friends, spouse, coworkers – they all involve compromising. Be willing to give a little, but without giving up too much and becoming a doormat.
Like stated in the previous article, we may not always be able to express our thoughts and feelings to someone else… whether it is because it is not appropriate timing, or maybe because you are unable to physically have a conversation with the other person. However, at least being able to express to someone else how you feel, or figuring out what it is that is upsetting you allows you to gain insight to see what options are available for you to ease your anger.
Stepping Stones Group Therapy Exercise on Anger Resolution
Nicole Paulie is a Counselling Psychologist, and co-author of “How to be Happy and Healthy – The seven natural elements of mental health.” She provides therapy in the Dublin city area. Contact us to learn more or to book an appointment.