Anger and anger management: What anger can tell you about yourself and your relationship…

And why this is important.

 

What tends to make you really angry?

How do you behave when you get angry?

What happens between you and your partner when one of you gets really angry about something the other one did or didn’t do? How does the argument tend to proceed? Does anger escalate or can you both usually get to some agreement or resolution of the issue without there being an unpleasant scene?

 

Anger is, of course, a universal and necessary emotion. However, anger is also a unique experience as each of us will differ on what we get angry about and the way in which we express our anger.

We reveal a great deal about ourselves through our expression of anger and we invariably see another “side’ of our partner (and our friends and family) when we get the opportunity to witness the way in which they handle anger and conflict situations. I notice this time and again in my couple counselling sessions when partners are in unhappy and troubled relationships. Often a partner will report to me that they have been “turned off” by their spouse after witnessing how he/she behaves in a high conflict situation.  

Your anger will reveal to you (and to others) what issues you feel intensely passionate about. Anger tends to be triggered within an individual when there is an (often unconsciously) perception that their integrity has been challenged and/or deeply held convictions and values have been disrespected or undermined in some way.

In addition, the way in which a person handles their angry feelings has a significant impact on their relationships and also on their health. Individuals tend to fall into two groups: those who like to confront and deal with issues as they arise and the other group who tend to “bottle up” their anger and to avoid potential conflict situations.  I have found that individuals who are experiencing problems in their relationships usually often become more extreme in the way in which they habitually handle conflict.

Both approaches can thus be problematic, especially when goodwill, mutual understanding and respect have been eroded. Couples in this situation usually report that communication has become a serious problem in their relationship. 

What is the “take home message” here? I believe that we could all benefit by paying more attention to the role that anger plays in our lives – what makes us angry, how we express that anger, what impact our anger has on our relationships and whether or not work needs to be done (on either an individual or relationship level) to improve on anger management for the sake of  personal well-being and the important relationships in our lives.

 

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