Diffusing Anger or Feeding the Flames

By

Diffusing Anger or Feeding the Flames
Do minor conflicts erupt into major fights? Discover how to diffuse anger in relationship conflicts.

Have you ever had an argument with someone - a partner, spouse, close friend, child, parent or other relative, or a business associate - that started small and spiraled into an intense conflict? Have you ever scratched your head, wondering how it got so out of control?

Let's take a look at what feeds the flames of anger and what diffuses it.

Feeding the Flames of Anger

Emma and Jake have been married for 14 years. They love each other, but they frequently have arguments that escalate into intense fights, where both of them end up feeling awful.

They've noticed that it doesn't matter what the conflict is about. Just about anything can touch off their anger, defensiveness and blame. Then the laundry list from the past comes up and they are at it, often ending with threats of divorce, which neither of them wants.

The problem is that they feed the flames with ANY response once one of them is angry.

Once a person is angry, he or she is no longer open to hearing another view of things. Anger is a way of trying to have control over getting one's way. When a person is angry and yelling at or blaming another person, they are trying to bully that person into doing what they want. They don't want to hear the other's feelings, explanations, lectures or logic. When they are angry, they may have no feelings of caring about the other person - they just want to control the person or the situation.

Therefore, ANYTHING you say to an angry person feeds the flames of anger and escalates the conflict. The angry person may use whatever you say against you. Then your own anger escalates as you defend against the attack and attempt to gain control over the other person's behavior, feelings or views.

Now you are both pointlessly trying to control each other, bringing out the heavy artillery as you defend your position.

Diffusing Anger

Most people, when yelled at, attacked, accused or blamed, get triggered into defending and explaining - hoping to change the angry person's mind. It is as if the angry person has thrown out a hook and you bite. If it is someone who knows you well, like your partner, he or she knows exactly what to say to you that hooks you into engaging in the conflict.

Yet engaging is exactly what feeds the flames. To diffuse the anger, you need to disengage. Disengaging means that you COMPLETELY unhook yourself from the conflict.

Disengaging does NOT mean that you walk away in anger, muttering under your breath about how bad and wrong the other person is, and how he or she can't treat you this way. It does NOT mean that you shut down, closing your heart and withdrawing your love or caring. Your silent anger and withdrawal of caring are just other ways of trying to control the angry person. Energetically, you are still engaged, and the other person knows it, albeit unconsciously. They know they have gotten to you, which fuels their hopes of winning.

Disengaging does NOT mean that you go off and ruminate about the other person, about how wrong they are and how you are going to teach them a lesson. It does NOT mean that you rehearse over and over what you are going to say to them next time you talk.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.
Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Margaret Paul

Author

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Take our FREE Inner Bonding course, and click here for a FREE CD/DVD relationship offer. Visit our website at innerbonding.com for more articles and help, as well as our Facebook Page. Phone and Skype sessions available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!

Location: Pacific Palisades, CA
Credentials: PhD
Specialties: Anxiety Issues, Couples/Marital Issues, Depression
Other Articles/News by Dr. Margaret Paul:

3 Types Of Hugs And How They Affect You

By

There are hugs — and then there are hugs. In other words, there are genuine loving and giving hugs, and there are needy hugs and inappropriately sexual hugs. There is a world of difference between these. While I knew this as a child — as most children do — I didn't have words for the difference. I just knew that I loved hugging and being ... Read more

Do You Listen?

By

Renowned singer Alanis Morrissette, who is a big proponent of Inner Bonding and a good friend of mine, gave a keynote talk at the 'Emerging Women' conference in Boulder, Colorado in 2013. She invited me to attend and I was delighted to hear her speak. Instead of giving a monologue, she had a dialogue with Tami Simon, the CEO of Sounds True, who ... Read more

Are You Secretly Controlling?

By

Most of us have learned some controlling behaviors that are not overtly obvious. For example, Sonia asked in one of my free webinars, "How can I help a man to share his fears of commitment with me without sounding like I am pressuring him?" If I were working with Sonia, I would ask her to explore these questions: "Why do you want him to ... Read more

See More

GET MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS IN YOUR INBOX!

Sign up for our daily email and get the stories everyone is talking about.

Ask The Experts

Have a dating or relationship question?
Visit Ask YourTango and let our experts and community answer.

FROM AROUND THE WEB