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Coping with anger

When couples are separating many thoughts and feelings can bring anger to the surface. At different times you may be angry with your ex, your family, your friends or others around you – even with yourself.

Coping with anger

Though people often say or do bad things when they’re angry, anger itself isn’t a bad thing. In fact, anger can be a really healthy release of emotion. The trick is to express your anger in a harmless way.

Recognise your angry feelings

People often speak of their anger as “simmering away”. Like an old-fashioned kettle that needs to be switched off once it has brought water to the boil, when you start to simmer you need to find your off switch.

First though, only you know when your inner kettle has been switched on. Try to think through what happens from your switch going on, through the heating up stage, to simmering, to rapid boiling. There’s almost certainly a point when you’re in control, and then when you’re not. Work out the various stages for you.

Do something different

Once you learn to recognise the stages you go through in anger, you can go on to think of ways you can do things differently.

When you start to simmer, you may find it helpful to tell yourself, “This is not important”. Or you may find that holding on to a satisfied feeling of being in the right is more helpful for you.

Other things you can try include finding an alternative way of putting your points over, deciding to save your thoughts and feelings for another more suitable time, or just walking away.

Healthy way to express anger

People have lots of different ways to channel their angry thoughts and feelings, for example playing sport, cleaning the house or car, digging the garden, writing a blog, shopping, swimming or walking.

  • Think about what you do now.
  • Are there things you haven’t tried that may work better?

Managing your anger

Remember, anger itself is not a bad thing. It’s only if it’s expressed in a hurtful or destructive way.

Think carefully about a time when you were angry but did not act on your feelings.

  • Write down what led up to the angry moment?
  • Write down a word for the physical feeling and the emotional feeling at that moment.
  • Think about what stopped you from ‘boiling over’?
  • What did you do, say or think that helped?

You have now found a way to avoid boiling over. Next time you feel the angry moment coming on, use your word to tell yourself that you do not need to show the anger in a harmful way. This will not make the anger go away, so remind yourself about the things you do, say or think that help.

My partner’s so angry

Your partner’s anger can make you angry too. It may make you feel as if you’re under attack and so naturally you may want to fight back.

It can be especially hard to cope with your partner’s anger when you feel like you’re on your own rollercoaster of emotions, which may include your own angry feelings.

Yet it’s unlikely you’re going to be experiencing anger at the same time as your partner.

Where does it come from?

It can help to try to understand your partner’s anger. The most usual thing is that partners get angry when they’re sad, and sad when they’re angry.

Your partner’s angry feelings or words can also be their way of expressing anger at themselves. It can be so much easier for them to be angry with the world or you than for them to blame themselves.

Do something different

Anger can, in fact, be a healthy thing. However, expressing it in the wrong way isn’t healthy.

One way forward could be for you to show your partner you understand. You could try the following when you see or hear their anger:

  • Stop yourself from saying, “Yes, but”
  • Say instead, “I understand” or “I think I know what you may be feeling” or “I’ve felt like that myself”.

If you can do something different like this, it might be possible to get a better outcome.

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