How To Deal With An Angry Partner
Gratitude also kills anger and stress. It’s very hard to be grateful and angry at the same time, which means gratitude directly increases relaxation – the state where creativity thrives. – Dan Norris, Create Or Hate
Living with a partner who has difficulty managing his or her emotions and stress can be very difficult. You might begin to feel like you are the cause of their angry outbursts. You might begin to think that if you just change this or that about yourself then maybe they will be less angry. Maybe if you hold back from bringing up points to discuss things will go more smoothly. A lot of the time it can feel like you are walking through a minefield and hoping against hope that nothing will explode.
This blog post explores this highly sensitive and all too present reality. Hopefully, you will find some answers and help if you are dealing with an angry partner.
Angry people fall into certain patterns or ways of seeing and interacting with the world around them, particularly those closest to them. Here are four main patterns of anger.
A Victim Mentality
People who have a tendency to be resentful and angry often find themselves in a victim mindset and not even aware that this is how they are processing information. Typically, they are easily offended, easily triggered by words or behaviors of others and overall, tend to carry a chip on their shoulder. They frequently see the failings in the behaviors and words of others, but when their faults are pointed out they take this as an attack. The line of thought becomes if you attack me, I will attack you. Angry and resentful people have high expectations of how people should treat them and behave around them.
A Blaming Habit
Rather than accept responsibility for their emotions and failings, angry and resentful, people project their pain onto people around them by shifting the blame from themselves to others. It is easier and less painful to blame another person for how they are feeling. Blaming becomes a default reaction whenever these people are uncomfortable in their skin. the problem, they believe, is clearly not them. By lashing out and blaming another person they can gain short term relief and a rush of energy that comes from bursts of anger. Any pain that they might be feeling is temporarily numbed. This burst of anger energy gives them a sense of power and control over the other person.
The Narcissistic label is thrown around quite a bit and, while there is true narcissist among us, the truth is that we can all have times when we are in a temporary narcissistic state. Our negative emotions can lock us into this state where we become self-focused and self-absorbed. In this emotional state, angry people tend to feel that they deserve to be treated better than they perceive they are being treated. They also tend to feel more important and more valuable than those who have “provoked” them to anger.
Negatively Tinted Glasses
The debilitating emotional state of anger narrows the vision of the angry person to where it is impossible for them to see anything but the negative around them – a tunnel vision. They will see nothing but the negative traits and behaviors of the person they are targeting with their anger. They are in a completely unbalanced and irrational state. Rightly or wrongly, they will associate the person disagreeing with them as being incompetent, inadequate and even malevolent. They will nothing but bad in the other person and will devalue them accordingly.
Dr. Paul Jenkins of Live On Purpose offers a very simple strategy for dealing with angry and abusive outbursts. He emphasizes, however, that if the situation endangers your safety in any way, that you take steps to get out. This is very important.
Everyone is entitled to be treated with kindness and respect at all times and wherever they are. Disrespect must never be tolerated in any form.
Here are the three simple steps you can take to address angry or disrespectful behavior:
The person caught up in his or her anger may not even be aware of the impact on those around them. Quite probably, they do not know any other way to deal with their own emotions and their emotions can literally blind them from being able to see reality. so, the first thing to do would be to make them aware of the impact their anger has on you. Let them know what is going on. You could say: “when X happens I feel Y to connect the behavior with how it makes you feel (ex. disrespected).
The next step Dr. Jenkins proposes is to immediately verify if this outcome is their intention: “Was that your intention, or is that what you were hoping to accomplish”? The person may respond by saying something like “No, I didn’t intend that or they might accuse you of being overly sensitive and reading into things. In any case, no matter what the response is, move on to the third and final step, which is
Accept the person’s response, but not the abuse or angry outbursts. You can simply say “OK” and nothing more. This response keeps you from getting tangled in a web of arguments, justifications, and accusations. It is simply an acknowledgment of their response. No one can argue when you say “OK”.
The reality is that angry people will get angry, some more intensely than others. So what can you do int the heat of one of these angry tornadoes and what should you not do?
The Dos And The Don’ts
1. Set Boundaries
State what you will and will not accept. Even in the heat of anger, you can firmly say something like: “I am not your enemy. We are on the same team. I need you to treat me respectfully.” Reassert your boundaries each and every time so that they are known. If you do not establish any boundaries then the person with anger issues will assume their disrespectful behavior is accepted.
2. Stay Calm
Yes, this does seem hard to do especially if you are the target of the anger. However, there is strength and power in remaining the calm person in the storm. Listen, affirm boundaries and resist the urge to react. Let the person spin their angry tires on their own.
3. Examine Yourself
Hold yourself accountable for any areas of misbehavior on your part. Apologize where needed and make any adjustments that need to be made on your end to clear your own slate.
4. Exercise Compassion
In as much as you are able, try to be kind, and sincere. Listen and seek to understand. People who are angry frequently are also people who are hurting. Hurting is the root cause of anger. They may have been hurt in the past and have never been able to resolve their hurts and maybe they are very uncomfortable dealing with conflicting emotions. Recognize that a hurting soul is behind the anger.
5. Don’t Fight Back
It is always counterproductive to try to meet an angry person on his or her level. Fire added to fire will not make the fire go out. In fact, the damage will be greater and the fire will last longer. It is better to set an example of how to properly deal with conflict.
6. Don’t Tolerate Disrespect and Abuse
Do not allow yourself to be yelled at, put down, shamed or stonewalled ever. If you tolerate these behaviors over and over, you are essentially letting your partner know that this is normal and acceptable behavior. It is neither normal nor acceptable and you need to make that clear.
7. Don’t Become Like Them
Remember who you are and what you stand for and believe. Remember your values. It s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of another person’s anger. It can suck you in and choke you. But you are not the other person and you do not have to get sucked in. Stay firm and stay grounded.
8. Don’t Neglect Outside Help
Don,t fall into the trap of believing you can take it on alone. Have a trusted friend you can speak to and lean on. Reach out to friends to spend time with and build yourself up. If necessary seek out professional counseling or support groups. Don’t try to take on this “Goliath” in your own strength; you will exhaust yourself and your resources.
Has this post been helpful to you? Please let me know in the comment section below.
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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, traveling, learning, and pursuing a debt-free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca