Avoid Going To Bed Angry

Jan 11, 2010 • Help!

Relationships are hard work, they say. They’re totally lying. Hard work is being chairman of the Federal Reserve when the economy is collapsing. Relationships are more like being an over-worked, unpaid slave, building the pyramids at Giza.

Yeah, I know. I’m just a little ray of sunshine. But don’t worry! Psychology Today‘s Dr. Mark Goulston has a piece up about how to avoid going to bed angry. Let me tell you–there is nothing more corrosive to a relationship than unspoken anger and unresolved issues. I know all about it, but I will leave it to the experts:

Often before you get to feeling angry, you start out feeling frustrated. Frustration is a rather unstable emotion and often slides into one direction or another. Either you begin to feel like a victim or feel self-righteous, both of which can lead to your becoming angry. Once that happens you’re in a reactive mindset and it’s unlikely that a conversation at that point will go anywhere but downhill. So next time that happens to you, while you are in the frustration phase, do the following to counteract your slipping and sliding into those other places:

To counteract feeling like a victim, pause and think of three things you are deeply grateful to your partner about, You’ll find that you can’t be grateful and feel like a victim at the same time. For me, that would be my wife attending to the thankless details of our home that would drive me nuts, being there for my kids and me and grounding me when my mildly ADHD/bipolar traits start me rushing down the runway.

To counteract feeling self-righteous and as if the other person is utterly clueless, pause and think of three things that make you a piece of work to live with. You’ll find that you can’t feel earnest humility and be self-righteous at the same time. For me, that would mean my wife tolerating my mildly ADHD/bipolar traits, my disorganization and the Don Quixote in me.

Information from Dr. Mark Goulston.