Some people blow up. Some people go cold and numb. Still others glaze over, and act like nothing happened.
My mom had her style. I talk about her a lot, I know, but that angry streak used to terrify me.
It was calm and demanding. Everything I did was short of her standards, just always...not good. Sometimes she would order me to find the flaws in my own work! There was always something I did wrong.
My mind would overload. And that’s a normal response to anger - I’d get scared, and disappear into withdrawal to self-protect. Ironically, the person getting angry is behaving the same way, lashing out in self-protection.
Did you know expectations lead to anger?
When you’ve set an expectation, you’ve already defined how something is supposed to look. When people then deviate from that - BOOM, you get angry.
It's trying to manage, even micromanage.
A lot of entrepreneurs run into this issue - I ran into it too! I had to learn to include fellow opinions in my work. The truth, of course, is everyone has something to contribute.
What to Do Instead
Fight, flight, or freeze are not your only options with anger!
Instead you can set a boundary. You can say something. Or you can just leave the room.
You can also offer a different point of view (“hey, have you considered this?”). That can bring the situation and feelings back down to earth.
We can even offer to help. A great way to offer help is to just leave the person alone.
Isn’t it great when we can choose something deliberately, even if someone else is having a bad day?
Non-Negotiables: a Technique for Good Relationship
Non-negotiables are things people require to be in a relationship.
One common example is monogamy. Maybe one of yours is an hour of “alone time” every day. Maybe it’s kindness, or keeping the common area in the home tidy.
These sound like expectations, but the difference is conversation. Non-negotiables are expectations after you talk about them.
Take my partner and I, for example. When we first got together, my partner had a list of things that were absolutely necessary in the relationship. I had my list too.
Our lists were really different actually! Mine was pretty short.
One was "water," haha! See, we bought a house together, and that sucker needed to have water.
And I got water: a pond, a river, and waterfalls! The sunsets are nice too.
We went over my partner’s list and made sure everything was honored.
This exercise made me think about what mattered, and of course I had to consider what my partner wanted too. It led to some hard conversations, where we had to discuss things, and get real.
Having a direct conversation prevents expectations. Sometimes do this with couples in therapy.
We review vows they used at their wedding. Then we set them aside and I ask if they’ve changed.
And of course they have!
People inevitably grow. It’s just that it distracts them from their unit with each other. It's understandable, all too human.
Mending a Relationship
Then it's essential to commit and act differently. That repairs a relationship. Acknowledging the wrong softens the wronged person's heart.
The good thing is it takes time - time is the essential thing that changes things, though.
When explosions happen, it's time to change something, whether it's business, relationship, yourself. It's not right.
We're not meant to explode - we're meant to live in calm. It's a signal that something is wrong.
The truth is I have a limited tolerance for anger. I dislike walking on eggshells, and have little tolerance for people brooding. I don’t really avail myself for relationships with people who act on anger.
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