The spectrum of human emotions is a crazy, crazy thing. We know that someone crying probably means that they’re hurt or upset. We know that someone laughing probably means that they’re happy or amused. And we know that, if they’re yelling, they’re probably angry about something.
But did you know that anger is often used to mask other emotions?
Think about it: When a child is throwing a temper tantrum, are they really mad, or are their feelings just hurt because they’re not getting what they want?
Believe it or not, it’s often the same for adults. We get mad to cover up the fact that we’re hurting inside. Have you ever gotten in an argument with your partner and immediately resorted to yelling, even though you really just want to cry? It’s not that we want to behave like children – it’s just that we’ve been conditioned to mask any emotions that make us look “weak”. Someone who’s angry looks a lot less weak than someone who looks sad, right? It kinda makes sense.
But, that’s not to say that it’s easy on the people around us.
We react in a way that makes things easier for us, even if it makes things more difficult on the people we’re taking our frustrations out on. We yell, scream, and maybe even break things because it’s easier for us to put on a strong offense if we’re denying the fact that we’re being defensive. The problem here is that it’s counter-productive. When we’re hurt by the things that our partner has said or done to us, the childish part of our brain tells us that we need to hurt them in the same way(s) that they’ve hurt us… So we retaliate.
This angry behavior causes a number of problems, though. First, it makes us completely unreceptive to their side of the argument. We take things personally, and we think that our partner has hurt us on purpose, so we want to do the same in return. It’s a little scary, actually, because it often happens without a thought, especially since we don’t always understand why we’re acting the way we are.
We can’t stop in the moment and process our hurt feelings, our fear, or our guilt. We can’t put into words why we’re upset, so instead we just let the other person know we’re upset by making ourselves louder. However, they can’t hear the things we’re not saying, and they’re more likely to ignore the things we’re shouting.
We’re destroying our chances to fix the problem by refusing to acknowledge the actual problem.
Is anger always unhealthy? No – far from it! In many cases, anger is a completely appropriate response to feelings of pain, rejection, and betrayal. But the way we handle our anger is often wrong. By refusing to move past the most childlike expressions, we’re removing any of the wisdom we’ve gained since childhood – and, if you’re a member of the vast majority on this one, you’ve learned a lot more as an adult than you ever did as a child.
Instead of lashing out when you’re upset, try to make a point of breaking down your anger and understanding the underlying cause. Are you actually mad, or are you just disappointed or hurt? Are you angry, or are you scared? Give yourself permission to process your emotions honestly, and remember that not everything has to be a fight.
Remember that you care about her and want to move past this.
Remember that your future depends on how you handle your present – so don’t let your emotions get in the way and screw everything up.