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Screaming in Anger

When you think about screaming at someone you probably imagine a barrage of criticism and blame. If you value kindness, you likely don't want to scream at someone in this way and at the same time you want to express yourself and stand up for your needs.

Good news! You can scream in giraffe*.  It's okay to feel angry, exasperated, frustrated, irritated, etc.  Unfortunately when we feel those things we often make them about others have being bad rather than expressing what we feel and need and what you would like to be different.

When you get home from a long day at work and open the door to a living room strewn with papers, food, and cloths, you might be tempted to scream at your teenage children,

"Didn't I tell you guys to clean up when you got home! Why can't you do what I tell you?!"

While this may or may not set them in motion, it certainly doesn't do much for your relationship. In giraffe, it might sound like this:

"Arrg! I feel so angry and frustrated when I see this living room.  I need a break.  I am taking ten minutes alone before I can talk with you."

From a giraffe consciousness, you recognize that engaging in a dialogue from anger rarely yields effective results. If it does get results, you will pay for those results later. Resentment, disrespect, and a loss of connection are the long term results of interacting while you're angry. Express that you're angry and then take responsibility for it by walking away and coming back when you are connected with the feelings and needs underneath the anger.

If the parent in the example above came back later and started a giraffe dialogue, it might start like this,

"Hey guys, I am calmer now, would you be willing to sit down with me and talk for ten or fifteen minutes. I am really wanting us to get along around this cleaning issue."

(teenagers agree to ten minutes).

"When I see the state of the living room, I feel tired and frustrated because I am wanting to feel comfortable at home and a clean orderly house really helps. I want to be sure I am being clear. Could you tell me what you understood me to say?"

This is just the beginning of a dialogue. The emphasis here is on dialogue. That is, you're expressing your feelings and needs and in a space to hear theirs.

Take a moment to think about the last time you felt angry. How could you have expressed that anger in giraffe?  What feelings and needs were underneath your anger?

*giraffe is a metaphor used in Nonviolent Communication to refer to any thoughts, words, or behavior that heart connecting.


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