Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships by Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
Preparing for her younger sister's visit put some pep into Shelly's steps. She recalled Natalie's last visit when they had fun at the beach, going to movies and eating out. The thought of having those precious moments again made Shelly feel warm inside. She wanted to show Natalie the home she and Devon had made together. She wanted her sister to recognize her determination to make something of herself as she made her way through Acupuncture school. She wanted her sister's approval. Shelly wanted to play the generous host. She also expected something in return.
Her buttons were pushed, but she never said a word.
Natalie left her dirty dishes on the table, threw her clothes on the floor, and went out without inviting her hosts. She never offered to take them out or pay for anything during family outings. Natalie treated Shelly''s place as a free hotel, with a maid thrown in!
Natalie took the hospitality for granted, and Shelly saw red. How could Natalie be so blind, insensitive and callous? Couldn't she tell how much she was hurting Shelly? Didn't Natalie know how much Shelly had put her life on hold to organize the visit? Wasn't it obvious how much money she had to borrow from Devon, and all the activities with friends and colleagues she had turned down? Shelly couldn't get over the fact that her well heeled sister would be so selfish, thoughtless and ungrateful. Her buttons were pushed a million times a day during that long weekend. But she never said a word.
Anger Explodes on the Wrong Person
After Natalie left, Shelly sniped at Devon just for breathing! All the things she had wanted to tell Natalie, she said to Devon. " Wash the dishes before bed!" she commanded. "You can do your own laundry, I'm busy," she pronounced as he got undressed for bed. " I paid for the groceries this weekend, so you better pay for the rest of the week," she vented at him. Her sister had abused her, so now she was going to abuse Devon.
Four steps to managing Shelly's anger
Shelly needs to be honest and clear with herself about what she expects for her troubles. A conscious awareness of what her hidden agenda is, means that she communicate her needs clearly, avoiding future hurt and anger when she isn't recognized.
This preventive first step reduces the triggers for anger,by putting Shelly more in control.
2. Communicate her Expectations
Once Shelly knows what you expect in return for her generosity, she should spell it out to the those who receive her largesse.
Putting it out there means there are no misunderstandings. That is preventive step number two. Shelly are reducing the risk of being disappointed, used and abused.
3. Don't expect grown up behavior from someone Shelly treats like a child
Allowing someone to get away with insensitive and abusive behavior means Shelly gives out a huge message that they are too infantile to be expected to be equal players in the game. Shelly is giving them permission to act in a totally selfish way. To avoid getting angry when they do so means taking preventive step number three – speak up when they violate your personal boundaries, rules and space.
Shelly shouldn't be a doormat! Waiting for someone to see and treat her like an equal human being, means she has to have feet firmly planted on the ground, that can take her where she needs to go and help her be a player rather than a place for others to wipe their feet.
4. Express her feelings as they come up
As soon as she feels that gut wrenching anger rise, she should get in touch with it and use it as a sign that she needs to stick up for herself and be an equal.
Shelly should speak her feelings as clearly as she can. It helps the other person know what she is feeling and why, so they can adapt right away.
Shelly should avoid stuffing her anger because she thinks it will cause bad feeling. Wouldn't she rather know how to please someone and do it right, rather than have long term resentment and explosive anger that ruins relationships for ever?