What am I angry about? What is the problem? And whose problem is it? How can I figure out who is responsible for what? When I’m angry, what do I need to say to clearly communicate my stance without becoming defensive or aggressive?
As women, many of us have been taught to be ashamed of our anger and have thus not learned how to use it effectively or to our benefit. Many of us have pretty unproductive ways of expressing our anger, the common culprits being passive aggression, the silent treatment, or crumbling under a sea of tears. All of these expressions of repressed anger keep us from making clear statements about our thoughts or emotions – often because we believe being clear and assertive will make another person feel uncomfortable. When this occurs the real issue is never addressed and thus the real problem never resolved. I’m sure many of us women have seen this happen – we turn to tears in the heat of an argument with a partner or close friend: The arguing is quickly replaced by their attempts to comfort us in order to stop the crying, and thus the actual issues goes unresolved. Problem not solved.
Of course there is much more to be said about women and anger… actually a whole book. It’s an easy read and I highly recommend: The Dance of Anger.
So, my challenge to my female readers: next time you feel yourself hottening in the head and burning in the belly, aka anger, take a second to breathe, ask yourself what is really going on: What about this situation makes me angry? What is the real issue here? What am I thinking and feeling? What do I want to accomplish by expressing my thoughts and feelings? What do I want to see happen? And what are the things I will do to see the change I want to see? And then express what you are thinking and feeling using clear “I feel” statements, and try to keep the tears at bay… at least as much as you can… for now.