UPDATED 5/2/2019 When you think of love in its purest form, what comes to mind? Happiness? Probably because a wedding is the ultimate symbol of love, for many people. While love brings about many positive experiences in our life, the opposite is also true. It’s a source of anger. Once you recognize, embrace, and let go of that anger so you can love more freely and you’ll be on the path toward happiness.
Why anger and love coexist
Love is a powerful form of expression, but it can be difficult to achieve and maintain. So, it’s just as likely love also causes you pain and anger.
Likely, the more you love someone, the more you get hurt or hurt that person. The actions and words of your mom, dad, siblings, children, and spouse probably hurt and anger you the most in life, driving the deepest wedges.
You feel anger toward this person because of the deep care you have for that person. The Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor University points out; uncontrolled anger is the number one cause of a failed relationship whether it’s a marriage, friendship, or bond between close family members.
How often do you expect someone you love to do what you want them to do, what seems obvious, logical, and reasonable to you, what would make your life easier and less stressful? And when that does not happen or does not happen on your desired timeline, how often do you feel disappointed, frustrated, and resentful and then begin to simmer (even boil) in your own juices, i.e., become angry in the midst of love?
Life is often not fair. People are not perfect. Though everyone has the potential to change, sustainable movement in a different direction happens only when the individual wants to evolve. External forces and requests (even pleas) may contribute to a decision to make a change, but true awareness, internalization, ad habit only really kick in when the individual is ready. Hence, love as one why of anger.
How to manage anger so you can love again
Love and anger transcend relationships. It’s just the most common way to think about love. However, you probably have “other” loves in your life too. Perhaps it’s exercise, socializing, or working. When someone or something compromises your passions, anger may be a natural response.
“Anger is the result of love. It is energy for defense of something you love when it is threatened.”Tim Keller
So, what might help us detour off the road of anger and avoid those trips in the future?
- What’s the meaning of love in your life?
- Self-awareness and acknowledgment of your feelings.
- Think of anger as a positive force.
- Ask yourself why you are feeling the way you do. Is your anger about the other person if it is really about you?
- Release the anger (often much easier said than done and sometimes taking much longer than we would like).
- Take a deep breath and smile.
- Find and show compassion.
- Look to your faith.
- Forgive by letting it go.
- Set expectations with yourself that are appropriate and realistic about the other person
What’s the meaning of love in your life?
What does love mean to you?
Steven Stosny, Ph.D., asks couples he’s working with if love is more like a da Vinci painting or an old worn sock. How do you think of love?
Next, he asks the men in his boot camp if they feel deserving of love and if so how much.
Finally, he asks for a rating of the love they give in the relationship.
Stosny’s found through his work that men feel they’re worthy of love but they don’t show it or give it to those they love. So there’s this imbalance in their relationship with others and with love itself. That’s the source of some relationship problems. Stosny points out you in Psychology Today that you can’t be deserving of love if you’re not giving it.
Let’s go back to his analogy of a da Vinci painting or an old worn sock. When you view someone as an old sock, resentment and pain probably creep into the relationship especially if someone picks up on your inability to sufficiently show signs of love. Stosny points out that most male anger is rooted in feeling like a failure as a man.
Perhaps it’s our fantasy with the storybook symbol of love, a wedding, that makes it difficult to deal with love and easy for it to be a source of anger. When you don’t have that fairytale love story, you’re constantly grasping for something that doesn’t exist. It may make you personally feel like a failure, and so the snowball effect of resentment, anger, blame, denial, and avoidance begin.
Ask yourself if there’s an imbalance in your life. Do you feel worthy of love and are you showing love to others?
Recognize that anger is love
Once you know what love means to you, be self-aware of your feelings surrounding it. If love is a dirty sock to you, what feelings does that evoke?
Recognize and acknowledge your feelings both positive and negative – whether its anger, hurt, bitterness or happiness, pride, or fulfilled.
Why do I feel angry?
Like with all sources of anger, fear, uncertainty, think about what triggered that anger? Who or what do I love that made me feel so angry? Is your anger about the other person or is it really about you?
Think about your relationships. Do you play the blame game? If you do, relationship specialist and author, Eve Escher Hogan, says that’s your ego protecting you.
Instead of blaming someone else, think about your responsibility for the situation. What role do you play? Answering that question isn’t easy because Hogan points out responsibility is hidden under feelings of anger, hurt, and fear.
Use an anger log to identify the triggers. It’s probably more than just love. Uncertainty or fear may drive it too. Once you begin digging deep, reflecting, recognizing, and tracking your anger you may be surprised at the causes.
Then, begin moving these emotional boulders. Once you take responsibility for the situation, you’re in a position to exude love, appreciation, and support for a family member or a partner.
How a smile can help you release anger
Once you move these boulders, you’re ready to solve this pain.
Instead of thinking of anger in a relationship as a good or bad thing, Lifestyle Integrity Coaching challenges you to embrace and honor it for what it is. Feel that anger deeply. Think about why you feel that anger – likely because you have a deep connection with someone else.
When you think of it in that sense, anger can be powerful. Some may use this power to hurt others or punch a wall when they’re angry. But, what if you think about using that power in another way?
Lifestyle Integrity Coaching encourages you to “connect with the love that is behind the anger.” Use that power to make a difference in your life and others.
When you’re angry, you often hear “take a deep breath.” Do that, and smile! Does your heart feel differently? It should help you stop the cycle of rage.
Think of anger as a positive force
Anger is powerful. Instead of punching walls, use it for something good. Many positive changes in society stemmed from anger.
For example, the Me Too movement. That’s rooted in women who for decades suppressed their frustration with sexual abuse from men in powerful positions. When they spoke up, they became empowered and ended the careers of many influential men.
When you realize love is part of anger, it changes the way you think of it. It helps you turn that negative connotation into something positive. You’re angry because you care.
For example, do you get angry at your child because they don’t listen to you and put themselves in danger? Why did that event make you so angry – because you love your child and don’t want something to happen to them.
Love isn’t just about loving others. We love ourselves too. Remember that ego? That’s why we get angry when our boss ignores our success on a project. We’re upset that our self-pride and self-worth isn’t recognized.
Use that frustration to channel positive change in your life and others. When you feel your blood boiling, take a deep breath and smile. The act of smiling will help you turn the negative connotation of anger into a positive force in your daily life.
How to find compassion in your heart
Next, find and show compassion. It’s the key to putting love back in your heart and showing that love to others.
Through compassion, Stosny points out you feel more valuable and powerful than when you’re angry.
CompassionPower is a great resource by Stosny for helping you find compassion in life so you can feel empowered once again. By building that emotional connection, you can improve who you are as a person and begin to heal. It’s a better road to take than blame, denial, and avoidance of the anger that’s burning inside.
He has a free workbook to help you get started down this path, along with tools to guide you toward love and compassion so you can feel and show love which ultimately will bring you happiness in life.
How faith can help you with anger and love
Finally, look to your faith. The Institute for Faith and Learning at Baylor University believes “We need to treat both of its underlying causes: we need to stop idolizing love and stop believing that we have a right to be happy.”
If you’re a faithful person, the Institute encourages you to look to God for ultimate fulfillment rather than idolizing the notion of love and those who are supposed to symbolize it in your life.
Finding forgiveness by letting go of pain
When at the crossroads, Helen Davis of Behavioral SobrietyTM, says you have three choices.
- Keep fighting
- Bury the hurt
- Reconcile and move on.
You’re not going to be able to move on overnight. It’s not like switching on and off a light. Think about it more in terms of weight loss. It took time to put on the weight, or the emotional weight in this case, and it’s going to take time to improve the health of your heart.
It will take time especially if you buried the hurt. Refusing to deal with it, only makes it worse and harder to overcome because it creates emotional baggage.
What’s your escape from it? Do you drink, smoke, work harder, use drugs or withdraw from others? Choose a better way – exercise, express your feelings, use a gratitude journal, or find compassion.
As you begin to shift your mindset, it’s human nature that you’ll still feel angry at times. Life is stressful and unfair, so something will spark that anger again.
Once you realize the triggers, you’ll be able to stop them in their tracks when they arise.
If stress is a catalyst, learn to manage and release it.
You can’t keep going back to what a loved one did in the past to hurt you. The past is the past. Leave it there. Focus on the present moment and moving forward.
Remember that smile? It’s a simple step that will allow you to change taht anger from something negative to positive instantly.
There are different paths to find love in your life, but with a little work, it’s possible to lose the anger in your heart and fill it with happiness. Bottom line, you have a choice to make when something aggravates you about someone or something you love. You can choose anger or patience and kindness. Which one are you going to choose to heal your own heart and those you love most?
Finding love after anger
Love is hard to express and feel because it’s buried under so many other complex emotions. There’s a Love-Hurt-Anger Cycle that you probably follow in your own life. You have to deal with every part of that cycle to truly come back to love again. You started with love, then fell out of love, but it is possible to get back to where it all started again with some work.
Set expectations for yourself and others that are appropriate and realistic. Take small steps, and eventually, you’ll reach your goal.
Choosing love will bring you happiness. When you choose anger, you don’t feel good. It leads to fighting in relationships and can land you in divorce court if you’re married and worse — a state of depression.
How will you find love after anger?
(Personal Insight MD, LLC, PeopleTweaker, and Insight MD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911 if necessary if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation or have the urge to hurt yourself or others.)