"If you don't change back, some serious things will happen."
It takes courage to stand up to these challenges and threats, and proceed with
improving your life, rather than keep on dancing the anger waltz.
There are various dances of anger. There may be disagreements--how much to
socialize, spend, see relatives, watch TV, have sex, etc.--and anger flares, but
nothing changes. One may seek more attention and love over and over, while the
other is emotionally unresponsive; both may get irritated, but nothing changes. One
partner may be over-involved with the children; the other is under-involved, and
both complain, but nothing changes. One partner may try a variety of ways to
change the other person but little changes. Actually, the frustrated partner could
change his/her own behavior and meet his/her own needs in other ways, but too
often this independent action is not seriously considered and/or the partner strongly
resists such changes. To meet your own needs requires a clear sense of purpose,
confidence, independence, and persistence.
This willingness to be our own person and to move in our own direction, alone if
necessary, is important but very scary (even in this age of equal opportunity and
sexual equality). These fears stop us from clearly expressing our basic
disappointments in a relationship--so the troubles never get resolved. Also, we are
often afraid of unleashing our own anger, as well we should be, but the fear
frequently inhibits our clear thinking about alternative ways of resolving the
problems, including tactfully asserting our rights and preferences in that situation.
The anger and these fears (of separation and failure) also interfere with our
exploring the sources and background of our own anger. This lack of self-
understanding also reduces the keenness and flexibility of our problem solving
ability. Some quiet contemplation of our history, our rights, our situation, and our
true emotions might help us see solutions.
Triangles often play a role, without our awareness, in the creation of conflict and
anger with a person. That is, we suppress anger towards one person (a boss or a
spouse) and displace it to a scapegoat (a supervisee or a child). The scapegoat often
never suspects that the anger that certainly seems directed towards him has been
generated by someone else and is displaced to him; he/she just feels disliked and
persecuted. This arrangement permits us to use displacement to avoid facing and
working on our own interpersonal difficulties. Whenever anger becomes a chronic
condition--an unending dance--ask: Where might all this emotion come from? Is it a
"left over" from your original family? Is this displaced anger yielding a pay off to
someone, e.g. do you and your spouse get to work on a "problem child" together? Is
over-involvement between two people (say, father and daughter) a cause for mom
and dad to fight? What would happen if the third party avoided forming a triangle
and stayed out of any conflict between the other two people, e.g. if mom let father
and son resolve their own fights? Does constantly worrying and working on
relationship problems (yours or someone else's) divert your attention away from
running your own life wisely?