Updated: Mar 16
Anger is probably one of the most common issues complained about among my clients. It usually has come to a point where friends, family, and partners start distancing and avoiding my client due to intensity of their angry outbursts. What I find after probing for my client's triggers/buttons are that anger is a secondary reaction to another primary response.
The best visual to describe anger as a secondary response is the "Anger Iceberg" shown here at The Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-anger-iceberg/ Essentially, when someone feels disrespected, sad, guilty, scared, hurt, confused, etc. Naming/labeling your emotions through your own self-talk or aloud using an "I-statement" to neutrally express yourself. Saying, "I felt pretty hurt when _____. I'd appreciate it if ___." rather than, "YOU always make me ____!" can help change the tone and success of your reconciliation. For those looking to build up their feelings vocabulary, a very helpful visual list can be found here: https://thechalkboardmag.com/the-feelings-circle-chart-emotional-communication You can more effectively address your anger by going to the root causes that set you off and accepting your other difficult emotions.
When that voice comes back to criticize you for your human struggles: 1) Get curious about what/where this thought is coming from. 2) Name the experience, "Oh that's pain running laps through my head right now. I'm going to let that run around in the distance while I sit back in the driver's seat." 3) Inviting your experiences along the ride can help you defuse/unhook from the conflict and power struggle with these difficult emotions. They can come along for the ride and you get to be in the driver's seat while they sit in the back. 4a) Changing the tone/accent of the thought in the voice of some funny character (SpongeBob, Patrick Star, Mickey Mouse, Homer Simpson, etc.). Having Mickey or Homer talking to you can help take away the intensity of those thoughts. 4b) Singing the thoughts to the tune of "Jingle Bells" or "Happy Birthday" can also provide instant relief.
Avoidance usually ties in with irritability and anger. The quicker you turn towards those difficult sensations, the faster they'll dissipate within you. Legal Disclaimer: The following content is not therapy advice and just my personal opinion.