Anger, Stress and Anxiety Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships
Write out your turbulent emotions and smell the freshness!
Have you ever been told to keep a journal and felt your heart sink to your boots?
Is the idea of journaling stressful in itself?
Perhaps you don’t want to dwell on what’s going on inside you because its messy.
Maybe you want to feel strong and the best way of doing it is to ignore bad feelings and hope they will just go away.
You may be very good at keeping your anger, stress, resentment, revengeful thoughts and feelings under cover, but they have a way of coming out in full force when you are least expecting it. Out of the blue a small irritation turns into a melt down and you don’t understand how this could have happened. Your store of anger and stressful experiences found a tiny window when you got irritated and used that moment to escape, embarrasing you in the process.
Many of my clients are masters at covering up, ignoring and dismissing their unhappiness. They disown their fear of being abandoned, as well as losses past and present as if they have zero impact. They are so tightly wound that they walk around like knots, unable to open and connect with anyone or anything. Eventually the knot frays and they come unglued. Journaling is a very powerful and useful vehicle that puts words to long held feelings of being badly treated and uncared for.
Journaling to manage stress and anger can help you
- Begins the process of owning your feelings, validatng them, making them feel less messy and unattractive
- Helps you tolerate your most painful and uncomfortable feelings
- Spurs you to find words to explain and express painful feelings in a coherent way
- Writing the words that you are putting into a meaningful narrative helps you understand the source of your distress
- Allows you to think about your need to be in control and how that impacts your way of handling your interactions
- Evokes curiosity about why you coped by being silent – assessing pros and cons about whether you did the best for yourself
- Enables you to see, feel and understand the enormity of your emotional burden so that you can begin to develop self compassion
Three People Who Benefitted from Journaling to Mangage Stress and Anger
1. One of my clients was unable to talk to her mother because she was terrified of being dismissed or ridiculed. “Writing’ to her mother in a journal provided safety and free expression. She didn’t have to censor herself, tread on eggshells, nor try to please her mother by negating herself. What she noticed in this exercise was how angry she was and how irrelevant she felt she was in her mother’s eyes. She got in touch with her own need to be a player, to exist in her own right and accept that her feelings mattered.
- RELEASE OF ANGER THAT HAD CONTRIBUTED TO EARLY CHILDHOOD RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS
- MAKING CHOICES INDEPENDENT OF HER PARENTS NEEDS AND FEELINGS
- HEALTHY SEPARATION FROM PARENTS, OWNING HERSELF RATHER THAN BEING DEPENDENT.
- Holding in rage, resentment and stress at not having a caring parent
2. Another client used journaling to talk to her estranged mother, putting into words the deep hurt she had carried all her life, feeling invisible to her parent. It was a long rehearsal that years later gave her the impetus to actually make contact, and experience her mother differently. She found that her mother was nothing like the one that her little child self had experienced. Her current day mother was willing to listen, and show care. That was a huge healing moment that continued over time, releasing her from the grip of playing the victim in her life, hoping to be rescued by a parental figure.
- REFRESH IMAGE OF SO CALLED BRUTAL PARENT
- VALUE ONESELF
- FEEL THE POWER OF BEING HEARD AND FELT
- RECALIBRATE OLD TRAUMA INTO NEW HEALTHIER CONNECTION
- EMOTIONAL GROWTH
Release from the hold of stress and anger, a new life emerges
3. A third client used journaling to speak to her father whom she felt had taken her entitlements as a daughter and given it to other women in his life – his time, his energy, his love, and his money. She was mortified by the idea of telling him directly and lived in a ‘holding pattern’ of not working and not making committed relationships – imagining that her father would some day feel guilty seeing her so down and out – and take care of her as his number one priority. As she journaled and processed the outcome in therapy with me, she finally told her father what she wanted, and when he refused to take care of her financially, she was released from her fantasy and began to take charge of her life.
- SPEAK THE HURT OF BEING SIDELINED
- GET A REALITY CHECK
- GET UNBLOCKED
- NOT WISHING EVERY MAN SHE WAS ATTRACTED TO WOULD REPLACE HER THE FATHER SHE LONGED FOR.
Getting Aquainted With Oneself Gets Opens Up Channels of Communication
Journaling as a way of getting to know yourself, directing goals and making sound decisions
For many other clients I recommend writing about their day to day emotional experiences as they feel them. They benefit from becoming aware of their emotional experiences rather than burying them ( which lead to anxiety, OCD, depression, panic attacks, phobias and psychosomatic complaints.) They are amazed when they do so on a regular basis and use it to direct their goals, interactions and decision making.
Unresolved grief can put a strain on relationships
Journaling as a way of expressing unresolved grief
For one group of clients who are in complex and unresolved grief at the death of a loved one – journaling is very useful. It is private and intimate, yet allows the bereaved to connect with the source of their loss – especially for older children who lost someone early in life. They can ask questions and create answers – begin a dialogue that eventually with therapy, release them from their unresolved grief and let them get on with their own lives.
Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
AUTHOR OF:’ Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t! Fear of Intimacy: Ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationship.
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Disclaimer: this article is for educational and informational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have when reading the material or following the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.