A participant in one of my TeamUp Triad Coaching sessions was struggling because she would time and again find herself exploding in anger when talking and interacting with her family. It was very damaging to her marriage and to the relationship with her children.
Maybe you too have experienced being overpowered by emotions so you weren’t able to communicate clearly?
If we become angry with the person that we are communicating with and express ourselves from that emotional state, the other person will automatically react to the anger and defend themselves. What happens is that we trigger an automatic emotional reaction, and we actually end up getting in the way of the communication.
What we need to do instead is to catch the anger ourselves and take a time out – go for a walk, sit and observe the breath, our body, and the emotion and try to understand what stimulated the anger.
It doesn’t mean that we have to suppress our emotions – not at all. If we accept the feeling fully when it arises we can actually decrease the suffering it causes, and by being mindful about it, we can tap deeper into ourselves and establish a more fruitful means of communication.
When my client looked closer at her emotions she would realize that even though she deep down often would feel sadness or self-judgment, the emotion that she mainly expressed was anger, and if she wasn’t mindful the anger would increase and be fed by the story about why she was angry. Once she started realizing this and applying the time-out practice she could communicate from a more genuine place.
TRY IT OUT! Next time you find yourself feeling angry when communicating with somebody request a time out. Then take a step back and just feel the emotion in the body: its physical sensation, its color, its shape and other qualities. Avoid the story, just feel the emotion in the body. Shift from ‘being angry’ to ‘experience anger in the body’. Try to understand what caused the anger. Then when you are ready to engage in communication anew, re-enter the conversation by expressing what stimulated your anger, and acknowledge your responsibility for the anger. See how this opens up the communication.
In the comments below I would love to hear how you’ve experienced this practice.
Co-founder of TeamUp
Find out more about TeamUp Triad Coaching and how to participate in one of our personal growth courses here.