By: Barbara Desmarais
It seems that anger is a common theme while raising a family. In my last newsletter, I wrote a short article on anger and had several people tell me it touched a chord with them. They admitted their anger was out of control and they knew it was adversely affecting the relationship they had with their partner and their children.
While I don’t consider myself an expert on anger by any means, through my own research and my work, I’ve learned that anger is a secondary emotion stemming from pain, fear or frustration. The anger we express to people we love, we know is disproportionate to the issue we claim to be angry about. We might yell at a child for taking so long to brush his/her teeth, or leaving toys on the floor or jumping on the furniture. We might lash out at our teenager for not calling. We might vehemently argue with a spouse for not helping around the house more.
Every one of us has triggers that mostly stem from our childhood. It might also be an unpleasant experience we had in our early adult years. Someone might say something that triggers a memory that made us feel unworthy or afraid. Often times we yell out of pure frustration because we feel we’re not being heard or taken seriously.
I often say that those of us who are parents are given the best opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves. All our triggers are opportunities to dig deeper – to explore them and learn to take on a new perspective. Sometimes it means forgiving someone or better still, forgiving yourself. Sometimes it means we’re not communicating our needs clearly enough.
When we’re angry, the tendency is to blame someone else. If only she/he would do things differently, everything would be fine. Blaming others never moves us in a positive direction. It only makes the other person defensive and then the dance continues. Whenever we take ownership of our own part in a relationship that isn’t working, whether it be our kids or our partner, great things start to happen.