When someone loses, the relationship also loses. We may win the argument but lose the relationship.
This article presents the final portion of the anger journal.
6. How did you express your anger?
Commentary: Most of us express our anger in one of two ways: fight or flight. Fight is when we try to win the conflict by overpowering our partner by being super critical, threatening to injure, using abandonment language, or overwhelming them with intellectual arguments.
Flight is when we 'hold it in' and don't talk about what's making us angry. We do this by sulking, pouting, placating, or using a long silent treatment. Neither one of these methods is healthy for our relationship because someone has to lose. When someone loses, the relationship also loses. We may win the argument but lose the relationship.
Questions we need to ask as we record our reactions:
Was my anger expressed in a way that honored my spouse?
Am I happy with the way I handle conflict or express anger?
Did the way I handle my anger bring us closer or create distance?
Did I focus on the behavior or resort to blaming and denial?
Did I validate my partner's viewpoint or shoot it down?
By our actions am I sending a message to my partner that it is not acceptable for him or her to express feelings and thoughts? Does my partner feel safe when I express my anger?
Did I internalize my anger so that I am vulnerable to depression and emotional outbursts?
Did I damage the relationship by threatening, blaming, denial, ulti- matums, impossible demands, or by bringing in everything but the kitchen sink?
Did my partner feel I heard and under- stood what she wants and is saying?
Did I attack my partner or the problem? Did I make my partner the problem?
Did I get angry to avoid talking about the problem?
Would I want my children to express their anger the way I do?
7. Record any insights you have about what happened. Read over the week's log and ask, 'What have I learned about myself?'
8. Write down how you would like to have handled the situation.
This tells my mind that there is another way of handling the anger. So instead of quickly reacting, we can recognize the warning signals so we can respond in a different way.
Commentary: After seeing how we handled our anger, we are to write down ways we could have handled the situation more productively. What advice would we give ourselves? Perhaps we might write: 'I would have called a 'time-out' and cooled off. I would have asked myself if there were any other way of interpreting what happened? I would have voiced my hurt to that person or said how I wanted to be treated. I would not have let my anger fester and build up.
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700
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