Anger is a powerful, perplexing and unpredictable emotion. When was the last time you climbed the anger ladder? The lower steps; minor irritation, annoyed, mild anger. And if fatigue and helplessness happen to be there, almost like unwelcome friends? You might find you skip some steps to the step up the ladder moment you explode and say that wrong thing. The mean thing, true for you but hurts them and in the moment, you don't care or even, you want to hurt them.....This cluster of feelings means a loss of impulse control. The brain doesn't think clearly. You've activated anxiety or even the dreaded fight or flight response. Another big step up is rage; some people actually do see red. They lose all control of themselves, of their words and actions. Not good for anyone.
I think anger has a place; to protect, to defend, to express our feelings about injustice, hurt. Being a part of a any group means you learn, well almost rules, about how to express anger. Think about how your family expressed anger or didn't! Think about how acceptable it was when your friend got angry in your friend group, a customer at a store, a driver in another car. Shouting, the most obvious form of anger usually means you are heard but not putting the other person in a position to want to communicate. Unless they raise their voice too. Shouting happens pretty high up the anger ladder.
So what does healthy anger look like? Anger management isn't just a television show! It's really a way to cope with your anger. Coping is deciding I'm too angry. I'll talk to you later. I'm angry you were late again at the lower rungs. Sometimes, saying what you are angry about is enough cool the anger.. Sometimes managing anger is working through the irrational parts. Your partner/ friend wasn't late because they knew it would irritate you. Or because they don't respect you. Or because they don't care if they break a promise to you.... Or maybe it was about that.
Finding out isn't going to happen when you shout those accusations at them. Managing anger takes recognizing you're climbing the ladder. It takes managing the emotions and recognizing the physical symptoms of ladder climbing. Are my shoulders tense? Am I clenching my jaw? Am I frowning? Stepping up...Is my face turning red? Is my heart pounding? Am I making my fingers into fists? In other words, on the higher rungs of the ladder; have you activated your fight or flight response? If so, It's official! You are too angry to have a reasonable discussion.
Why not try to give them a chance to explain? A simple what happened? can be a way to stay on the lower steps of your own anger ladder. As you are waiting for them, thinking about why this is happening again, try to think of possible reasons that aren't blaming. The traffic was worse than expected. They got a flat tire. Or even, this is who they are. They are never on time. It's not even about you. Maybe if you're honest with yourself right now, you can admit part of the reason you're angry is you had a bad day. You didn't need this. You're starving.You skipped lunch. Anger gives us all a way to work with our feelings, to think through what's important, to have compassion for ourselves and the other person.
So you've managed to express your anger clearly and well. You had a conflict. What does resolution look like? This important step helps in avoiding anger at the very same issue in the future. The other person apologizes for being late. You go to dinner. Later, you think a little about how angry you were. This person is late sometimes. Maybe closure means circling back around and saying, I hate it when you're late especially for dinner. Why didn't you respond to my text? And the other person saying, because I knew you'd be angry! Maybe both of you can agree to a change. Answering a text on one side and managing anger so its not so big on the other. Maybe you need to agree that it's okay to order an appetizer, make it a joke and say they are paying if late....I've seen many creative solutions.
I know this isn't enough information about how to cope with anger. But the point is, keep trying. Giving up means a lot more guilt on your part! Anger management is a good thing!