Monday, October 19, 2009

What to Do If You Are with Someone Who Is Angry

When you are feeling very angry, it is not the time to talk about your emotions. If you are standing when you are feeling angry, sit down, take several deep breaths inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Try counting backwards from twenty and get some distance between feelings and actions. When we are feeling angry and standing, we have an inner drive to approach and this could lead to a physical encounter. Go off, and cool down. However, let the other person know that you will be back. It shows that you have respect for the other person and that will count for a lot when you come back together to discuss the issue.

If you are with someone whose anger is escalating you can help the situation by telling them to “stop” and “calm down.” Get them to sit down if they are standing. If the other person is already out of control with their anger, just get out of their way and physically leave the situation. Do not engage them if they have a potential weapon in their hand.

Do not try to talk with each other about feelings when one person is very angry. This can lead to tracking. Tracking is when one person follows the other around and continues with the verbal attack. Tracking can lead to physical violence when the person being followed feels there’s no escape. We track because we have a fear of being abandoned. Do not track another person. Just allow them to go off and cool down.

Anger always has another emotion behind it. Often our anger is a front for fear, pain, hurt, shame or guilt or any combination of those. When angry, sit down quietly and ask yourself, “What is behind my anger?” What am I afraid of, what am I hurt by? What am I ashamed of? What is my guilt? Doing this can help you gain insight into your anger and allow you to deal with it more appropriately.

If you are yelling and hitting things or acting out of control in any other way, you are not expressing your feelings clearly. When we act out our feelings in place of verbalizing them in plain English, others interpret our actions from their own personal past experiences. For instance, if I tell you in a calm and controlled manner that I felt angry over your being late for dinner, I am clearly expressing my feelings in plain language that leaves little room for misinterpretation. However, if I begin to jump up and down and start yelling and hitting things because I am angry at your being late, you will become defensive and begin to shut down to what I am trying to say. You will move away emotionally. You will not be able to clearly understand my message because you are too busy trying to protect yourself.

We interpret actions from our reservoir of past experiences. By acting out anger through actions instead of clearly verbalizing it through words, our listeners are left to interpret our actions in their own way. We then have no control of their interpretation. It is like playing a dangerous game of charades.

When we act out our anger, we are in danger of feeding upon its energy and expanding it. Contrary to popular belief, acting out anger whether shouting or hitting something does not release us from anger. It actually amps up our angry feelings. Instead, it is better to do something that will calm us down.

It is important to quiet ourselves in the midst of our anger. When we are angry, we fill our heads with angry words and leave no space for listening to our inner voice. This is the reason why we are so off center when we are angry. We have no connection with our internal wisdom at those times.

For more information on Dr. Walton’s anger self-help, log onto You can also follow his tips of the day on Twitter@LAtherapist. For more information on Dr. Walton, and to obtain free sample audio affirmations log onto his website at Press Release

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