Living with Chronic Pain

How to Avoid Taking Anger Out on Loved Ones

Source: Mayo Clinic, WebMD

Anger or frustration is a natural and healthy emotion; however, uncontrolled anger can negatively impact health and relationships. Anger typically occurs due to being threatened or provoked, feeling hurt, or as a defense mechanism. If anger spirals out of control, a person is likely to lash out and say or do things they later regret.

Anger may be misdirected at loved ones, which can result in strained or damaged relationships. In order to prevent this from occurring, a person must learn how to control their anger and reveal it responsibly. There are several ways to avoid expressing anger unhealthily.

Take a break

When experiencing anger, it is best to take a step back. Creating space to calm down might involve going into a separate room, counting to ten, or asking a person to pause the conversation.

Laugh it off

Humor helps situations seem less intimidating. Making a joke, instead of lashing out, can lighten the mood. However, humor is not an excuse to discredit feelings or use passive-aggressiveness.

Think before speaking

Oftentimes, when someone is angry, they say things that they don’t mean or that are inappropriate. Once the words have been spoken, they cannot be unheard by the listener. Be mindful during conversations with loved ones and take a moment to consider whether the words spoken are true, helpful and kind.

Use assertive communication

Not to be confused with aggressive communication, assertive communication focuses on the needs of both parties in an effort to solve the problem. Assertive communication involves using “I” statements (e.g., “I feel upset when people talk badly about me” or “I feel angry when the house is a mess”). “I” statements center around the feelings concerning the situation, without placing blame on others.

Practice relaxation skills

Relaxation exercises can relieve feelings of stress and anger. Examples include breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or guided meditation. This makes it easier to deal with challenges that arise.

Identify triggers

Having the knowledge of what causes anger is powerful. For example, if a person knows they have a short temper following work meetings, they can practice coping skills and communicate to their loved ones that they need space. However, this does not excuse harmful behavior towards loved ones because they were given a “warning.” The anger still needs to be processed healthily.

Address the issue

If a person has a habit of taking misdirected anger out on their loved ones, it may be due to the inability to address the situation that is provoking anger. This is a defense mechanism called “displacement.” Taking anger out on a loved one might provide a small moment of relief, but it will not solve the real issue. By addressing the actual problem, the buildup of anger can be avoided to decrease the probability of taking anger out on loved ones.

Additional sources: Verywell Mind, BetterHelp, and Verywell Mind

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