As a couples therapist in Oakland, CA, I often advise partners to "approach the bear" when their partner is angry. 🔥 𝘙𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴' 𝘢𝘯𝘨𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘨𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘤𝘺. 🔥
Anger is just an emotion like any other. Anger is not inherently bad and does not need to be suppressed. Anger is here to protect us or our loved ones.
Many of us feel uncomfortable around any sign of anger and feel the need to remove ourselves or to shut down the anger in another person (for instance, with invalidating statements). This can be especially true if you have experienced trauma or are a highly sensitive person. Unfortunately, this response shuts down an opportunity to connect and be there for another person. This shuts down an opportunity to heal your own relationship with anger.
Anger is often expressed in unhealthy, hurtful, or scary ways.
At these times you may need to set boundaries or remove yourself from the situation. Learn about expressing healthy anger here.
What happens when you can't manage anger:
If we were taught that anger means we are in trouble or that anger is dangerous, we may become defensive of ourselves or invalidate our partner's position. This can evoke feelings of shame, increased anger, or abandonment in one's partner.
If we were taught that anger is dangerous, we may shut down or move away from someone who is angry. Shutting down or walking away from someone expressing feelings can lead to feelings abandoned or ashamed.
Anger can be expressed in a healthy way and needs response and connection just like any other feeling. Learning to feel safe with your own anger and regulating yourself around other people's anger increases your ability to be in relationships.
Seeing anger as a sign of vulnerability:
When your partner is expressing anger, a threat has happened...to them or someone they care about. See and respond to the vulnerability and hurt just as you would if your partner was sad.
Validate and Join
Whether the anger is being expressed toward you or toward another, be curious, validate, and stay on the same team. Feeling connected and cared for is regulating and disarming.
Looking from a trauma therapist in Oakland, CA? Learn more here.
Looking for a queer couples therapist in Oakland, CA? Learn more here.
What to do when anger overwhelms you
Leave a Reply.
Stephanie Bain, LMFT
***Resources are not a substitute for therapy and are not intended for making diagnoses or providing treatment. Not all practices and tools are suitable for every person. Please discuss exercises, practices, and tools with your individual therapist or health care provider.