3. Focus on the Fear or Hurt
The angry person you love is afraid or hurt because they feel threatened. Anger is a symptom of feeling threatened, hurt, or afraid. Love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). So show them love by communicating with them in terms of their fear. Ask open-ended questions that help them process whether they felt a threat to their security, connection, or control. You’ll begin to see that there’s a consistent pattern to what makes the person angry – it’s nearly always the same kinds of situations that lead to their anger. Expressing what they felt just before anger is challenging, so here are some words that might help you help them to process.
“I got angry because I felt ________.”
Security emotions: Abandoned, Vulnerable, Threatened, In danger, Belittled, Alone, Ganged up on
Connection emotions: Like I was being compared, Not good enough, Invalidated, Unloved, Rejected
Control emotions: Embarrassed, Humiliated, Ignored, Helpless, Powerless, Overwhelmed, Weak, Belittled
Communicating in terms of the primary emotions—what they felt before they got angry—may require some patience on your behalf. Often, anger has become such a default response that many people really think anger was their first emotion. It may require some thought on their part and guidance from you for them to get in touch with the primary emotion. But we only resolve the deeper, ongoing issues, by understanding and helping the person we love to recognize the source of their anger.
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