Let’s admit it – outrage can feel enjoyable.
In the UK it’s everywhere at the moment. The results of the EU referendum and the subsequent fallout seem to have given everyone a platform for expressing their opinions. Emotions are running high. People who are usually quiet or absent on social media are furiously posting away with passion, on issues that matter to them. Yes, many people are geniunely distressed and angry. Anxious, fearful and concerned. Bereft.
Outrage gives us a way of venting all of our feelings – in this case publicly – wanting and needing to be heard. Insisting that our own opinion is the right one. And it feels good to voice it. We feel vindicated.
In relationships we have similar patterns. When our partner upsets us by not listening, being inconsiderate, not seeing our point of view, we can become outraged. If uncontained, we end up in an angry exchange of words.
As a Relationship Coach, I have known this angry exchange to take place in the room, by text, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, email. Any possible way that both partners can find an outlet. The outrage can spill over outside of the initial argument and continue all day, even when the couple are not together, furiously typing away on their smartphones.
And when I tell couples that communicating in this way is unhealthy and suggest they stop, even when they agree with me, they often continue anyway! This used to puzzle me.
Until I realised that what most couples won’t admit to is that on some level, they enjoy it. Not necessarily the conflict itself, but the opportunity to vent their feelings. In the moment it can feel cathartic.
So what is the main problem with uncontained outrage?
Well, simply, it’s this; each of you may think that what you are saying is of huge importance and feel satisfied once you have said it. But it’s essentially pointless, because rather than listening to your point of view, your partner is only interested in venting theirs. And vice versa.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling outraged. It’s great to feel passionate about something and it is important sometimes that we let people, especially our partner, know how passionate we are. Bottling up feelings can have all sorts of problems.
But we have a choice – either we really want our partner to hear us – or we don’t.
So if you want your partner to really take on board your point of view, you need to channel the outrage you feel in a constructive way, that fosters openness and trust. This means containing some of that outrage. This is really challenging because, in the moment, it doesn’t feel as satisfying as shouting or letting it all out. But you have to keep the bigger picture in mind.
So before you vent, ask yourself the following questions:-
- Will communicating in this way enhance the relationship?
- Do you know what you want to achieve from this conversation?
- Do you actually want your partner to hear you and take your feelings on board?
- Do you want positive change to come out of this?
If the answer is “no” to these questions, then perhaps you could reconsider your motivation for wanting to vent in the first place.
Conflict occurs in Nature all the time. Storms rage as the elements collide, forest fires burn. But these systems don’t fight each other. They happen side by side. Everything balances out eventually. Storms clear the air. Forest fires can benefit the ecosystem. The conflict is purposeful.
Effective communication is respectful, compassionate, kind, positive, and open. It holds space for both partners to have a point of view, and for both of you to express your feelings. Even if you disagree. When all of these conditions are in place, you can reach a new understanding about each other.
Empathy grows. Trust builds. Compromise happens. Relationships transform. Obstacles are overcome.
If you would like my help and guidance to manage the conflict in your relationship in a positive way, click here to download my FREE Communication Guide for Couples. This guide has further tips for effective communication that you can use with your partner RIGHT NOW to enhance your relationship.
And always remember – just as you would a beautiful garden, always maintain and tend to your relationship to watch it thrive. X
P.S. Coming soon – If you would personally like my expert support to learn the EXACT techniques and steps to resolve conflict effectively without hurt, anger and frustration, you will soon be able to sign up for my Compassionate Conflict for Couples E-Course. At just £99 it is incredible value for at least 8 hours of coaching, and the first 10 people who sign up will receive a bonus 1:1 coaching call with me, absolutely FREE! These places will go fast and are strictly on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you would like any further information about this course or want to be notified as soon as it is released, or have anything else that you would like help with, I would be delighted to hear from you. Just PM me on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t wait to hear from you!