What ever happened to the time when closed elevator doors meant passionate kisses, a stolen moment, a quickie, even? Today closed doors provide a space for violence and loss of self control. Whether it is Ray Rice, Solange Knowles, or the everyday Joe, one thing is for sure, people need to think twice before unleashing their hostility in the form of domestic violence or assault. Only the individuals involved know the back story. I’m not even sure that it matters. However, I do know, it is important that people find better ways to express feelings of anger towards loved ones. I tell couples in my practice all the time “love and anger can and should coexist”. Too often, love exits the room when anger enters. This opens the path to destructive behavior. When love and anger commingle, people can express anger without intentionally hurting each other.
Many people don’t know the difference between being angry and being mean. Anger is a feeling, just like joy, disappointment, or fear. Feelings don’t knock a person out, mean behaviors do. Anger is an important emotion. Emotions are a source of information. Anger tells us that there is a problem. Listen, but don’t act. At least not right away. When you find yourself feeling angry the first thing to do is calm down. For some people this only takes a few minutes. For others, it could take all day, maybe even longer.
It is important to get to a space where you can make a decision about how to express your anger. Notice I said, “make a decision”. Don’t act impulsively. Don’t allow your feelings to lead you around. Take charge. Exercise self-control. Sometimes there is nothing to be done. You just have to wait until the feelings pass. Other times you put your feelings into words. Words that are easily received. If you want to be ignored, yell, swear, accuse. These forms of communication are sure to shut a person down. Maybe another time, you turn your anger into productive action.
In a relationship, this may take the form of seeking professional help or coming to the realization that it is time to end it. While these decisions may be difficult they are productive. Anger has the power to change things. If expressed appropriately, it can help us get back to the time when closed elevator doors concealed a passionate embrace.