Underneath anger is hurt and pain. Underneath tears is hurt and pain.
It is the same emotion, just expressed differently….
Anger is a signal that something is wrong, we are in a state of stress/distress and are being triggered. Whatever it is that we are facing needs to be resolved in order for us to function again.
If we don’t resolve or channel our anger it can affect our productivity, well-being and even lead to long term effects such as illness.
We face conflict everyday throughout our lifetime:
- When we are facing a crossroad or decision we need to make = inner turmoil
- In our relationships with our partner = relationship problems
- With our children and families = family issues
- With our friends and in the workplace with our colleagues, customers and suppliers = peer pressure and social norms
- At times we also have turmoil on a spiritual level where we question our faith and beliefs.
Conflict can result in a number of emotions being expressed as everyone deals with conflict differently. Some try to avoid it by shutting down, disengaging and withdrawing (a Minimiser). Others are seen to attack and/or become aggressive (a Maximiser). Both of these reactions are defensive mechanisms to protect us from being exposed and vulnerable on an emotional level.
Anger can become a major health issue. Seeing as our childhood forms the foundation of our emotional intelligence (this is where we are taught how to express ourselves, to communicate, to show affection, how to manage conflict and more) we need to help children find healthy ways of dealing with their emotions, especially anger.
Parents typically respond to their child’s outbursts with punishment, rejection or their own outbursts. They might give their child time-out in their room or the naughty corner, high school kids are given detention, suspended or even expelled. But children don’t understand where their anger comes from, we have to help them identify their underlying emotions and how to express their emotions in a way they understand e.g. they might be feeling left out, rejected or misunderstood. If children are not taught how to do this, they will find ways of dealing with what they are feeling that will become their adaptive patterns in adulthood and by then these traits are well entrenched.
The key to understanding our emotions is self-awareness.Becoming self-aware – We all have a trigger system that gives us clues as to what is going on inside of us. The sooner we identify these triggers (e.g. increased breathing, knot in the stomach, heart rate etc), the sooner we can do something about it.
- Self-regulate – The quickest and easiest way to self-regulate is to focus on your breathing. So if you need to count to 10 (or 100), walk away and do a quick breathing exercise then do that. It is the body’s natural way of self-regulating.
- Consider your options – In every situation we always have a choice. By weighing up the options and consequences for all the options we can make an informed decision and ultimately better choice than one based on pure reactivity.
When we learn to Embrace Conflict and not see conflict as a bad thing but rather be curious as to what is going on and what is triggering us, real change can happen vs. repeating the same patterns over and over again. As adults, we owe it to ourselves to learn these basic skills in order to provide a better emotional foundation for our children and future generations.