Anger and Stress Management Tips for Satisfying Relationships
Are you envious of other peoples relationships?
Are you consumed with frustration that other people seem to get what they want and have the ‘perfect’ relationship while you are struggling to get off the ground?
When you are feeling unfulfilled and unhappy in your own relationship, other couples are viewed in idealistic terms. You imagine that just because they are out together or buying groceries together that their relationship must be warm and stress free.
You wan the same thing! You don’t know why you can’t have it, and you feel life is treating you unfairly, despite you being a ‘good’ person.
Thats what happened to thirty-seven year old Jocelyn after her marriage ended in divorce.
She was filled with rage that she had given her all in the marriage and yet it hadn’t been enough to make it work.
Enraged by her husband being away a lot and shirking his responsibilities, she filled herself up with hate for him for making her end up alone with two children.
She kept the anger and hate inside, pretending that she was doing okay. But she also looked for any excuse to tear a strip off her husband when he wasn’t paying what she felt she needed to maintain her household with the children. She wanted that money, and atonement money – she wanted him to bleed.
She tried to act like a single person and go out with friends but she felt even more angry that she had to start going out and date again!
Jocelyn found a million reasons why she would never find a partner again. So everytime a possiblity arose she stamped on it by saying, ” I’m too fat, I’m too old, I’m not funny and I’m not sexy!”
It worked. She made sure she never got a date – it was a great way to hang onto the anger and hatred.
Yet the anger and hate never went away. In fact it got a lot worse. Jocelyn couldn’t stand the fact that he was enjoying his life while her life was going down the drain.
What are Jocelyn’s options for dealing with the anger and hate?
She can sit back and complain about her misfortune, treating herself as a helpless victim on the one hand, and as a merciless avenger on the other hand when she gets mad at her ex-husband.
She can fill herself up with anger about life being unfair and leave no room to take in care and find a good connection.
She can blind herself to the love that is available because it doesn’t match her wish to turn back the clock and force the marriage to work.
She can seethe with frustration, release stress hormones into her body and get sick.
She can have a fit about the fact that her efforts aren’t being rewarded immediately or consistently,.
She can use that frustration and the excess adrenaline that it produces to make it happen for her.
Three ways Jocelyn can use her frustration, anger and hate to get her share of the good things in life
1. Tune into the discomfort in her body whenever she is frustrated, revengeful and angry. Notice the enormous energy that could overwhelms her, but is at her disposal to channel –
2. Imagine the choice she has –
- use the anger, hate and frustration for destructive purposes – throwing a tantrum because she isn’t given what she want.
- use the energy to get in touch with DESIRE.and use that force to open up a space inside where she can allow others to touch her, make her laugh, care for her and make her feel wanted.
3. Frustration is the mother of desire
Choose the second more hopeful option and put herself out there as the valuable person she is. Emotional energy can be used to wake up DESIRE for life and all that it offers. Without desire there is only destructive tendencies because no one took care of you the way you wanted. Fierce desire makes you walk through fire and wade through snake filled swamps.
When Jocelyn wants her life to be happy with a new boyfriend more than she wants to feel the power of anger, then she uses frustration transformed into desire to get her wish.
She needs to look for and take what she wants, not wait for someone to rescue her. That’s where the frustration comes in handy. It catapults Jocelyn into a ‘must have’ place rather than a ‘ have to wait and see’ place or a passive aggressive place just to get even. Taking revenge and punishing will only keep Jocelyn in a strait jacket of rage hoping it will burn the reality of the broken marriage into it’s original attractive experience. Desire on the other hand is self-empowrering because it comes from the frustration of not being gratified by the person you depend on to care for you.
As the famous British Psychologist and Pediatrician Donald Winnicott said – a mother has to refrain from indulging a child all the time or anticipating every need. Without the feeling of frustration the child will never want to do something badly enough to grow and develop the skills and the pride of self-care.
copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2014
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Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond