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Angry & Resentful

My heart falls when I ask one person in a couple to name feelings and s/he lists angry, resentful, and aggravated.  My heart falls because I so want to help them connect and hearing these feelings I know they are a long way from connection with themselves and each other.

When you are feeling anger and resentment you know three things.  One, there is some very important need or needs up for you.  Two, your heart is closed or defended.  Three you are having thoughts of blame, judgment, and what should or shouldn't be happening.  Unfortunately, it's the third thing that comes through the most loud and clear.  Anger and resentment send clear signals that judgment is lurking behind. 

Any time you are feeling angry or resentful (or for that matter guilt or shame, but that's another gem) it's helpful to ask yourself two questions:
- What am I telling myself?
-What am I needing or what's so important to me here?

You can get to connection with your heart by following up with either of these questions.  When you examine your thoughts and what you are telling yourself, you can intervene by questioning the truth of those thoughts.  Do you really believe your partner disrespects you and hold the intention to be inconsiderate of you.  Do you really believe your partner should …. (e.g., know how to behave in a way that doesn't ever trigger you).  Is there any evidence that reality could be different than the way you are interpreting it to be in the moment?  Could your partner's behavior be a reflection of something other than  disrespect for you?  Let your perspective broaden by looking for other possible truths regarding the situation.

You can also just name your thoughts, let them be what they are, and move to feelings and needs.  Sometimes it is easier in an anger state to guess your needs first.  Once you name a need see if you can frame it without the "should" thoughts.  So rather than "My partner should respect me", you internally say, "My need for respect isn't met.  I am wanting to know my partner cares about my needs and respects me."  This is your springboard to connect with more vulnerable feelings underneath the anger and resentment.  It might sound like this, "When I imagine my partner doesn't care about my needs I feel …"

The more vulnerable feelings hiding under anger and resentment are almost always some form of fear or sadness.  When you can let yourself experience and express these feelings and connect them to your needs, you can more easily make a request of your partner that will meet your need.  Often a connecting request (see this gem for more on connecting requests: ) is helpful to make first.  This means asking your partner to say back what s/he heard or to express what feelings and needs come up for him or her in hearing you. From a place of connection, the two of you can get grounded in your caring for each other and brainstorm strategies and requests to create more connectedness in a similar future situation.

Take a moment now to reflect on the last time you felt angry or resentful.  Follow the steps above to discover what you are telling yourself, what else might be true, and what feelings and needs are alive in you.

click here for a list of feelings and universal needs and an empathy guide.

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Dissolving Reactivity

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