Tacoma Christian Counselor
Anger, I would say, is one of the most uncomfortable emotions to observe. Often people feel frozen in time unaware of what to do or say in response to someone experiencing it. Anger is defined as a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure or hostility.
Anger is a common emotion and there should be an understanding that no emotion is bad but it is how you behave in response to your emotion that matters.
In James 1:19-20 it states, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
People who become angry feel they have no control over the situations at hand or feel a sense of unfairness. I find there a pattern with those who have deep and destructive anger – it is often because they have not learned to externalize their emotions but instead they turn all of their feelings inward, holding onto the weight and negativity of each emotion.
Taking a look into the individual’s coping and seeing what avenues they have implemented to decrease their anger is often helpful in providing more effective tools for changing the explosiveness of anger itself. How you respond to your anger is a learned behavior.
As children, we watch our family – dads and moms, sisters and brothers and observe how they regulate their emotions and what they do in conflict. We then take what we have observed and implement it in our own lives. This is a topic discussed in sessions. Therapists’ may look at the client’s past family dynamic to bring awareness to what patterns have been repeated and are currently negatively affecting their present.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. – James 4:1-2
Anger is a symptom of what our heart is feeling. We need to dig deep and evaluate our desires, frustrations, and expectations. Checking the way we think about the world around us, our core beliefs, our inner dialogue, as well as the media and cultures messages that tell us what we should have and need.
We are brainwashed through advertising and social media pages that tell us what we should have and what we are missing out on by not having it. As individuals, we need to see the false identity and lies in the idea of materialistic things changing our happiness. We need to challenge these concepts to see their actual importance in our own lives, evaluating how much anger and frustration is caused due to our belief systems of happiness being in the things the media projects.
In the United States, we raise little boys to be tough, to wipe off the dirt and blood, pick themselves up, quit crying, and get back in the game. We do not allow them to feel their emotions outwardly. Instead, we send them a message that they are not allowed to feel these emotions but instead pretend they aren’t there.There is no time to process or feel but to just instead ignore and move forward. Little boys do not feel, they do not cry – they are boys. Boys are conditioned to believe this statement and that they aren’t allowed to be vulnerable or to outwardly show their emotions, brush it off and keep moving forward.
This is the message that the little boy receives and carries into manhood and into his romantic relationships. When a man is conditioned to not share his hurts or verbalize his emotions, anger follows shortly after and creates a problematic dynamic when not handled properly among all relationships, personal as well as professional.
Anger can become explosive and unhealthy if not verbalized or handled appropriately. Individuals who continually hold onto their anger put themselves into a ticking time bomb, with each negative event it continues to get closer and closer to going off. Every negative experience, feeling, conversation builds on top of one another…tick, tick, tick…each tick brings the individual closer to the occurrence of the explosion.
Anger is normal. It is how we handle our anger that can become negative and create issues in our personal and professional lives. Emotions are apart of every day life. Imagine the amount of conflict an individual must feel if they are unable to properly handle their emotion effectively.
So as women, we ask “my man has anger issues, what do I do?” And to that I first say, you cannot change your man. Know that you are not going to be the one to fix him. He may temporarily fix his issues relating to his anger to appease you but if they are not truly examined and changed because he wanted to learn how to respond differently then this is just a band-aid fix.
There will be a time in your relationship when he feels you are not leaving and he can relax again. His anger will come back because he did not truly fix the issue. He has to see how his negative ways of handling anger effect his life and your relationship. He needs to feel the urgency of handling his anger issues differently and be willing to do the work within himself to decrease his explosiveness.
So until then, you are only in control of how you respond to his anger and what you are willing to tolerate. Obviously, anger has a range of severity. So each situation has a specific and different approach from another.
As a woman, I urge you that if you are in a relationship with a man who is verbally or physically abusive in his anger please find a support system and make a plan on how to leave the relationship. I do not care how great he is to you when he is not being abusive, you deserve something better, you are worth it, your future is bright and you have options.
Anger Issues: Relationship Red Flags
Outside of physically and emotionally abusive situations, I ask “Do you see any red flags in your relationship?” Let’s take a look at what some of these would be:
1. They constantly tell you how perfect you are
Seems nice and at first and you may think “wait, why is this bad?” Well, as you may know, you do have flaws and if your partner does not see these they are not seeing things at their true value and instead are romanticizing the idea of you instead of the actual you that you are.
2. They push your physical boundaries
They are continually trying to pressure you to do something you have already communicated to them you are not comfortable with. It also could be something as simple as needing a lot of physical touch in public settings and they may get angry if you do not constantly comply with expressing PDA in public. This could also be a sign that they do not respect you or your desires and the small issues now become bigger physical boundary issues later.
3. They rush a new relationship too quickly
They may express their heart to you very quickly in the very beginning stages of the relationship expressing how important you are and discuss marriage extremely soon.4. They isolate you from friends and family
They become jealous and needy when you try to make plans with others besides them. They may talk negatively about friends and family members to get you to see a different perspective putting the boyfriend in the hero role.
5. They describe all their exes as crazy
This shows that everything is one sided and they are not seeing their own flaws or issues, creating no room for growth individually. There is no ownership of choices, behavior or character.
6. Their emotions change drastically from anger to showering you with gifts or verbal praise
They are set off by miniscule things and become destructive in the way they handle their anger. They later feel guilty and try to make it up to you by showering you with gifts, profusely apologizing and telling you how great you are.
7. They are secretive
Even in the small things they seem mysterious and do not share things and are often closed off.
8. They need continual reassurance
They are constantly asking why you are with them, what you like about them. They need reassurance daily and sometimes multiple times a day. No matter how much you communicate what you like about them it is never enough and they always need more.
9. They make you feel less than
Anyone who makes you feel stupid or not worthy is not someone you should surround yourself with. In a healthy relationship, you should feel valued and shown respect.
These are not all but just some of the red flags that you should be mindful of when entering a new relationship. Especially if you are justifying his behavior or making excuses for his anger. There is no excuse of why you should feel worthless and underappreciated.
You cannot change him and being aware that he is the only one that can change himself is most important in moving forward. If you are seeing any of these signs above I beg you to reevaluate your relationship.
As to those women who have a man who is not displaying any of these red flags and just has an out of control temper I suggest you explore what boundaries you have created in your relationship and start implementing more. As people, we learn our relationships. We learn what is acceptable and what is allowed based on what others have communicated or shown to us.
If you are sitting through your partner’s anger and allowing him to yell at you or become explosive you are teaching him that you are ok with his behavior. You are communicating in your relationship whether you are verbally or passively communicating. He is being sent a message either way. So think, what do you want to communicate to him?
What is acceptable to you and how can you stand for it? If your partner is yelling and becoming irate, walk away. Refuse to discuss things with him until he can appropriately communicate with you – this enforces change. He will learn what he can and cannot get away with based on your reaction and consistency with your boundaries. He learns if you bend, so do not allow him to get away with creeping his negative responses back into your relationship dynamic.
So as asked before, “What can I do about my boyfriend’s anger?” You cannot do anything to change him – he has to change himself. So in the meantime, if you are not being verbally or physically abused then put up your boundaries take control of the only thing you can – your response and plan of action.
Encourage him to see someone. Communicate to him that if things do not improve you cannot stay in the relationship. Express your expectations and stand your ground. Perhaps individual counseling for yourself would be effective in identifying your boundaries and understanding yourself and your worth as a woman.
I urge you not to take this information lightly. Understand the importance of the fact that there is nothing you can do to change him, he has to be the change agent. Yes, support him, love him, and show him you are there for him but do not compromise yourself in the process. Respect yourself enough and implement boundaries during his time of changing himself so that you do not feel less than important in the process.
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