Many of us are afraid of conflict. Our parents taught us to avoid it, sweep it under the rug, or go in guns blazing! If you're able to be calm enough to express your anger, you may actually create a deeper connection with the other person you disagree with.
Teaching anger management for over 4 years, and learning to manage my own anger has been quite an enlightening experience. I've noticed some very important patterns in myself and my clients that are definitely worth mentioning.
- Everyone is different. Some people need to punch a pillow when they're angry, other's need to go to a quiet place and meditate. If you're trying to figure out what to do with your anger, try something non-destructive and see what happens. Keep doing what works!
- There are a couple similarities. Even though we each need different things when we feel conflict coming on, we all share a similar biological system called the nervous system. How can you calm this system? Breathing exercises. Slowing down the breath will slow down that racing heart and mind. Stop and breathe. Walking away can also help temporarily allow you to recover and start thinking clearly. Create a plan with a partner, friend or family member if you find that walking away is one of the most effective strategies. And now finally the reason I started blogging about this...
- Talking about your feelings, concerns, values, needs, wants and ideas can create a connection. Your anger is actually a very effective barometer. Your mind and body are telling you, "something is wrong!" If you can stay calm enough to communicate about your strong feelings, your partner will learn things about you that you may have never been able to express. This is a great learning opportunity for the both of you!
- Disagreeing, arguing and other forms of non-destructive conflict can actually bring you closer together! If you can be open to conflict as an opportunity for a deeper connection, you might not try to avoid it. And guess what! The more you practice disagreeing in a non-violent way, the better you will get at it.