Anger experts report that anger develops more often within marriages and families than anywhere else. The second most common place for episodes of anger is the work place. Did you need an expert to tell you that? While you may not need experts to tell you when and where you are angry, a little help in understanding how to deal with this powerful emotion can be helpful.
Last week I discussed BLOW OUT and STRIKE OUT as two ways people deal with anger. This week I’ll talk about three more ways people deal with anger.
FAKE OUT! The FAKE OUT way of dealing with anger is used by people who think they have to be nice all the time so they try to FAKE OUT others by repressing their anger and not dealing with it (denial). This is the “peace at any price” way. If you employ this method of anger expression (or lack of it) you will go through life frustrated by your false face and you will never have your own needs met. You will allow people walk all over you for the sake of momentary tranquility.
What to do about it? Take a risk and tell the offending person how they are impacting your life.
SNUFF OUT! Here I’m talking about people who on the one hand act as if everything is fine while beneath the surface they seethe with resentment. If someone makes them angry they SNUFF OUT (repress) their real feelings and relegate them to their quiet, restrained inner self where they churn and burn, agitate and exasperate.
Psychologists call them “passive-aggressive;” they appear passive while they think aggressive. Their aggressiveness, however, is not usually expressed directly. It is expressed subtly and indirectly by stubbornness, procrastination, cynicism, or the intentional failure to do requested tasks. For example, someone who uses SNUFF OUT to express their anger will create unusual delays in getting ready for a party they do not want to attend. It is their quiet way (passive) of expressing their anger (aggressive).
This kind of behavior has a negative impact on almost everyone, especially the one practicing it. It will undermine your most valuable relationships and prevent you from taking the action necessary to solve real and present problems. It can impact you both personally and professionally.
What to do about it? Convince yourself that it’s OK to be angry and even more OK to not allow others to ruin your life with their negative and nasty behavior. If you are being treated unfairly, speak out! Get in the habit of gently expressing your anger so others don’t take advantage of you.
PULL OUT! Some people prefer to avoid anger altogether and walk away; so they PULL OUT. They are able to escape from the people or the situation that is causing them grief but they never resolve the conflict. Are those who PULL OUT not angry? Of course they are, but they won’t admit it. They are probably angry most of the time because their needs are never met. Many turn the anger against themselves and some suffer depression and even serious physical ailments.
What to do about it? Anger avoiders need to learn to get in touch with this very real emotion. They need to learn to be assertive in dealing with others. They must secure a proper view of themselves and their place in this world; they must correct their mistaken beliefs about anger.
Next week I will discuss the sixth way to express anger – and it is the right way, it is the way that brings healing and wholeness to your relationships. See you next week.
NOTICE: If you are experiencing nearly uncontrollable anger, you may need to seek professional help. I recommend family therapist Steve Litt at www.SmarterRelationships.com