The biological ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in the brain is designed to protect each of us from real threats to our very survival. But for most couples, this “fight” mechanism is misplaced. Typically the ‘fight’ reaction comes up when there is just a threat to one’s ego.
The anger typically emerges because there is some insecurity from some unresolved emotional wound or compounded wounds in our lives have been triggered. The uprush of tension is the inflammation of those mostly unconscious wounds that pours into our consciousness.
How can you tell? Note that not everyone becomes angry at what happened. If a person does not have any insecurity about it, it does not trigger them. And so they do not become “angry.” If it is a problem, then it is simply something that needs to be solved. That’s life. There is no unnecessary intense emotional reaction in the natural process of resolving it.
It is the human condition to have sensitivities in our personality that can become triggered. And whenever those specific “buttons are pushed,” typically up comes a flood of tension.
Most people do not recognize that those tensions they are experiencing come from within themselves. Their complete focus is external on what triggered them. And that is typically who they take it all out on.
What a trap that can be. The 90/10 Rule says that 10% of the tensions is coming from what happened. But in an upset, 90% of those tensions are coming from sensitivities, insecurities, and unresolved issues deep inside that have become inflamed. When a person is unconscious of those underlying tensions, then they will tend to take their insecurities out onto you who triggered them. And that can be tough. Years of it can distance each other and even end their relationship.
But then the angry person remains a prisoner of his or her underlying sensitivities that drive those upset feelings. And as long as they are unconscious of those unresolved feelings inside, why would they go away? And that is the rub!
Like with all issues affecting the relationship, the freedom lies in gaining self-awareness of one’s inner world. Couples have found that the Inner Enneagram provides the empowering insight into the specific inner pressures in each of their personalities that can tend to grip them.
This is hugely important! It enables us all to be able to recognize those tensions and sensitivities as soon as they are triggered instead of unconsciously and freely acting them out in blame and anger.
In addition, the tools we teach provide a secure framework that enables partners to open up and work through those inner tensions and wounds safely to resolution together. And in the process root out the source of those sensitivities.
Lastly, in addition there are effective tools that we teach that enable the receiving partner to quickly de-escalate rising tensions as they emerge. This is an important, and it is not usually recognized.
Typically in a clash, the angry person’s partner does not realize how he or she unwittingly can further inflame those tensions. Learning specifically how to diffuse it right away, in ways that immediately relax the moment, is important in the management of anger.
Fortunately, these awarenesses and skills can be readily developed by couples.
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