Getting angry is easy, but dealing with its effects can be anything but that. When you get angry your breathing becomes more rapid, your heart rate increases, your muscles tense up, and you narrow in on whatever provoked your anger. Whether you were cut off in traffic, yelled at by your boss, or talked down to by your spouse or friend, the effects of one episode of anger can last for a long period of time even after the situation is over that caused the anger to surface.
If you deal with frequent anger, you know what it is like to lose control. It feels good in the moment and it seems as if you have to get it out or it will continue to build until you lose it. People around you, whether they be close friends or family, all know too well what you are like when you get pissed off. Maybe some people walk on eggshells around you because they have been hurt by your outbursts in the past while other less familiar people may know you as the over-passionate person who always seems to be irritated or worked up about something. If you are a boss, there is almost a guarantee your employees are atrophying from your constant frustration, and if you are in a relationship, your significant other is bound to be hurt by your lack of control and painful remarks.
Anger in Relationships
Uncontrolled anger puts you in an ironic predicament of attempting to gain control by losing it. At times, it can seem to be working, but over time, after consistent outbursts, it does just the opposite. Yelling at your employees to get things done works at first. Soon though, they will either shrivel from fear of your temper, which can cripple their ability to get things done, or leave the company hoping to find a boss who doesn’t blow up on them every chance they get. Within the context of a relationship with a significant other, things aren’t much different. Depending upon the spouse, they may shrivel in fear or match your anger with their own. Regardless, over time, there will be a lack of intimacy and connection, leading to drifting apart, which can feel like living with a stranger.
Anger Underneath The Surface
Anger isn’t what it seems on the surface. Underneath the raised voice and red face is oftentimes a lack of support and fulfillment. The angry boss and spouse long for support and connection, and when they don’t get it, they lash out, attempting to control people or situations to get that support. Whether that’s projects done on time or the chores done around the house, it is all an attempt at connection and support. The angry boss has his own boss, who demands results, and he needs his employees to perform or he will get into serious trouble. So when he asks his employees to get things done, and they don’t, it seems like a personal attack and he becomes angry. The same goes for the angry spouse. They ask for the chores to be done because when they weren’t done before mom or dad got home growing up, they were punished or ridiculed.
So now a messy house brings up feelings of anxiety and whenever their significant other refuses to do chores, it seems like they don’t care about them or how they feel.
Anger is not simple. It is layered and can exist on the surface of deep hurt and pain. Usually, the stronger and more pervasive the anger, the deeper and more complex the hurt and pain is right below it. We long for connection and support, and the more we continue to face rejection and unmet needs, the more we become defensive to protect ourselves from the vulnerable place of being hurt over and over. That protection and defense can be anger.
Luckily, there is hope. Anger does not have to be something that overpowers you in the moment. Instead, if you make some adjustments, it becomes a great ally. Part two of this blog explores some tips for dealing with your anger and harness its usefulness as your great ally.