How knowing the source of your anger can heal your relationships.
You know the feeling. When things get difficult, angry outbursts often lead to more confrontation or withdrawal. Anger can be productive, think of activists, or it can be destructive, and we have unfortunately enough examples of that lately.
It’s not the anger, but what lies underneath the anger that we need to look at and become aware of in order to keep the peace at work and at home.
Years ago, I was a full-time working single mom with two little kids, juggling work-life balance and often feeling overwhelmed and guilty towards them. I regularly felt angry and directed my anger sometimes towards my kids or other family members who happen to be close by. Deep down inside I always knew I wasn’t angry with my kids. I knew there was something else going on that provoked my anger, but never could put my finger on it.
I discovered overtime that we are either angry with ourselves, because we made a mistake, feel overwhelmed, ashamed or attacked in a situation or we are angry at someone else. This other person did or said something that impacts us in a hurtful way.
I’ve heard anger sometimes referred to as a secondary emotion. I would like you think about it as anger being like the Tsunami after an earthquake hit us under the surface. When we find out what the earthquake was about, we can address these underlying vulnerabilities and the Tsunami calms down.
To examine the earthquake, here are 2 questions I want you to ask yourself:
1. What did I feel first before I got angry?
Let’s say it is sadness that you felt first, or fear.
2. Then ask yourself: “What was my thought, just before I felt the sadness that caused my Tsunami of anger?”
A thought always precedes an emotion and so you can dig deeper into the cause of the earthquake. First we experience something, we form a thought or a belief (conscious or unconscious) that provokes a feeling that may lead to anger.
How would your relationships be improved, if you consistently express your feelings of sadness, shame, and frustration before you have an angry outburst? So you are angry, what are you really feeling beneath the anger?
What does this blogpost bring up for you? Please post it in the comments below!
I’ve designed a card set with uplifting quotes for people going through a rough time in a relationship, in conflict or just in life in general and called them Little Upsides ™. I regularly share my thoughts and beliefs behind these Little Upsides here on my blog.
Here is what a client wrote me recently about Little Upsides: “Just got your card set. Thank you so much. I love these…I pulled a few out randomly, and my colleague and I both couldn’t believe how pertinent they are – to work, home, personal…life! Wow, you’ve nailed it.” L.A.
More information on tips how to use Little Upsides here.