In this time of COVID lockdown, I am noticing many couples and families becoming increasingly angry at each other. This anger also extends to friends, jobs, coworkers, and roommates.

Anger, like other emotions, is healthy. Anger is a red flag. It’s the body and mind alerting you to injustice. Humans have a distinct part of their brains dedicated to fairness. Therefore, evolving with this hardware for fairness must have served us well.

The problem is not the red flag, the emotion, the anger. The problem is what we do with anger. If we impulsively act on anger, we are possibly going to damage a relationship.  The key is to be curious.

When anger shows up, there is a value’s conflict. What this means is that injustice to something you value highly is occurring. It is healthy to recognize this injustice and its conflicted value. For example, if your partner disrespects you and you notice anger. You likely value respect.

Having more information about anger and the value slows the behavior down. Then, instead of acting impulsively, we can advocate for our value. For example, you can tell your partner that you value respect, and right now, you are feeling disrespected. This is an assertion. This is not trying to get the other person to apologize or agree with you. You are asserting that you value respect. At this point, your partner has a choice to recognize the emotion and value or not.

It should be made clear that we have very little influence over changing someone else. Therefore, if the injustice continues over and over without your partner reflecting and changing their behavior on their own, they will likely not. At this point, continuing to hold the value and stay in the relationship will possibly cause resentment.

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