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by Anna Collins, Community Manager at Marriage 365

Anger doesn’t have to be negative, but oftentimes we allow it to be so.

At the heart of anger there is a rallying cry inside of us that is screaming “THIS IS UNFAIR”, and instead of channeling it into positive action, we channel it into a negative ball of energy that reinforces our negative self-talk… that life is unfair toward us and that we can’t have something we feel like we should.

Anger can be an opportunity to recognize that something isn’t working and can create a pathway for positive change. The difference is your perspective. If something your spouse is doing (or not doing) triggers anger inside of you, instead of storing that anger and putting a mask over it, why not latch onto the realization that something isn’t working and sit down to work it out together? There is so much in the marriage-argument arena that could be avoided if we would simply choose to see anger as a “check engine light” instead of as an excuse to blow up and hurt each other.

Here are two positive ways to interact with anger:

1. Choose to see it as an OPPORTUNITY, not an OBSTACLE

The next time that you feel extremely angry, stop, take a deep breath, and step back. Choose to see it as an opportunity to make some changes in your life and in your marriage. Ask yourself what about the situation is making you angry and what you would like to see done differently. Anger is like a wall of lava that shoots up to let us know that we emotionally feel “in danger”, and that is a positive and healthy thing. Taking a step back requires quite a bit of self-control, but it is well worth it to be able to change your mindset to have a positive reaction to the things that make you angry.

*DISCLAIMER: This doesn’t mean you accept/tolerate any kind of abusive behavior. Maybe the pathway you need to take in response to your anger is setting up healthy boundaries to protect yourself from negative or toxic behavior. But you won’t know unless you step back and look at the whole picture.

2. Release the emotion, but not the lesson

Often times we take anger and we shove it down deep inside ourselves. It is not pleasant to be or feel angry. And it isn’t supposed to be. Unfortunately, many of us shy away from the truth that anger can be valid and should be acknowledged. In order to see positive change in your life, you have to do something different than you’ve ever done. You have to be willing to sit in your anger for a minute and truly evaluate the source. This does not mean that you allow your anger to result in poor behavior toward anyone else. Instead, take the anger you’re experiencing, figure out what it is trying to teach you… and resolve within yourself to keep the lesson and release the emotion. Once you do that, you’ll be able to make positive changes based on truth and not on feelings.

Your anger is telling you something, so pay attention.