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Anger - how to let it out EFFECTIVELY


How to communicate anger effectively. Darling Health Sydney

I see many women in my clinic who struggle to communicate their emotions, in particular anger. Our social and cultural norms tell us that women are supposed to be the caretakers and make everyone else feel better. They are only ‘allowed’ to be sad and vulnerable, but not angry. Men on the other hand are allowed to feel angry, but not sad and vulnerable, which leads to another whole bunch of problems....for a whole other blog-post. When women are angry or even assertive, they’re labelled as “aggressive” or “hysterical” which causes an immediate shut-down and blocks a relationship. This includes in the workplace – I hear so many stories from my female clients where feedback given to them would never have happened to a man.  


Humans have a range of emotions and all of them are necessary. I no longer think of emotions as positive or negative, yet some do, naturally, cause discomfort. Think of them as visitors that come into your emotional house – some stay for a cup of tea, others will stay a week or more, but they will always leave eventually. And new visitors will come too. If you are a human, you are not going to live a life free of anger or anxiety, they are essential for our wellbeing, they signal to us that something isn’t right in our world.


Learning to express anger effectively takes practice and a shift of habits. When the problem is expressed with intense anger-energy, the message behind the anger isn’t heard. The receiver's brain goes into a ‘fight/flight/freeze’ (stress) mode and their frontal lobe shuts down, meaning it can’t take in the message or meaning behind the anger. This is how misunderstandings can happen as the person expressing the anger thinks they are heard, when the receiver has effectively checked out. So, how can we prevent this from happening and communicate our anger in a more effective manner? Some of my top tips for communicating anger effectively include:  


  • Discharge some of the adrenalin and cortisol produced when you feel angry by having a physical release – go for a run, scream in your car, punch some soft furnishings, journal out your feelings, or book in a time to talk to myself or someone similar to discharge the intense energy.  

  • Write down what the issue is for you and what you’d like to communicate using “I” statements. E.g. “I feel angry at the way I was talked to because I found the tone to be dismissive and demeaning” has a far better chance of being heard than “You are being so rude!”. Remember you can only control how you communicate, not how it’s received by the other person.  

  • Choose a time to talk. Many of us make the mistake of thinking we have to solve every issue in the moment, using the right words and tone but in reality, this is impossible. If you find your emotions too intense, park the issue, and agree to return to it at a set time. In an hour, a day, a week, it doesn’t matter. The important part is that you will return to debrief it and not let it fester.  

  • If you feel better/safer writing down your feelings and sharing them this way rather than verbally, this is OK too. It gives you time to think about what you want to say, and the other person time to digest it. Ideally, you’d come together to discuss it further if necessary, but even if that doesn’t happen you’ve aired your truth. Airing your truth will always be the healthier option than keeping it inside. A moment of discomfort as you express yourself is better than a lifetime of resentment.  

 

If you need support in getting clear on what you wish to communicate to those in your life, book a session in with our Psychologist, Jacqui Manning. Book online here.

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