the love language of anger

The Love Language of Anger

I find all aspects of language challenging, interesting, and fun.  I have been consistently awed by the power it has to affect people and effect change.  How we use language matters at every scale; just ask the millions of people whose lives have been changed by people like Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King about the power of words.

It also matters intensely at the smallest scale: two people interacting with one another.

In that sense, language – spoken, signed, body, subconscious – plays an integral part of the tapestries we weave with those closest to us.  I am charmed by it, and love its power to let my loved ones know that they are loved.  I have also – to my sadness, much too often – reminded myself of its terrible destructiveness.  Somehow it is easiest to wound the people that I least want to injure; a quick tongue and raw impatience have not made stellar combinations when my emotions ran high.  Because of this, I have taken some time to work on how I can love someone even through anger. That is when I am most out of control of myself, when I am most outraged and least willing to listen, and most likely to do the most damage.  This is the time when I need to be able to show them I love them the most.  And for me, it has come down time and time again to language.

It comes down to language usually because that’s what fails me when I am not my best self – tired, hurt, angry, depressed, frustrated, sick.  Not because I can’t find words, but because my normal filters have short-circuited like live wires laying in a puddle and I am left without an internal editor.  So instead of communicating calmly and rationally, conversation becomes this sort of pre-emptive emotional carpet bombing – I get all of my internal garbage out as hard and fast as I can ahead of the other person.

What do I think I am doing? The one who hits hardest and fastest, “wins”? I don’t really know. All I know is that while this is an emotional compulsion of mine, it never, ever, ever fails to fail as a strategy.  A conversation goes from being about an issue to being submerged in emotion, usually on both sides, and by that time any rational conclusion is pretty much impossible.

Over years I have come to watch and understand this cycle of communication within myself, and begun to build new cycles – healthier, more pleasant, less taxing – to replace the old ones.

I have worked hard on my love language when angry for years now, and the results have been almost universally positive, with some surprise responses thrown in.  When I use these strategies with my closer circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, the conversations conducted using them almost always are more productive.  I feel heard. The other person doesn’t feel bombarded. And we both find some kind of mutually agreeable closure to the incident.  On the other hand, when I use my anger language with people I know less well, I have found that I can unnerve them a bit.  My uber-precision and super-even tone have sometimes made them feel like I am being manipulative and deceptive.  I think this is interesting; I validate that response, and do not have a solution for it yet.

In the meantime, I am grateful to have ways of communicating with the people who are dear to me when I am anything from frustrated to furious, without worrying that the way I am communicating is going to damage a relationship that is precious to me.

How do you hold on to love when you are angry with someone close to you?

— Posted on 2 July 2015 at 10:03am by

Comments (3)

  1. Viscouse Reply

    6 July 2015 at 5:26pm

    You say “It also matters intensely at the smallest scale: two people interacting with one another.” I posit that the smallest scale is a person interacting with themselves. Many times we are angry with ourselves, and we emotionally puke all over ourselves in torrential waves of self doubt, punitive self-loathing, and crushing our self esteem. If we can learn to use these tactics with ourselves, and be compassionate to ourselves, we can break the cycle of speaking angrily, reactively, to ourselves. This is perhaps the best practice for doing the same in the real world.

    A wise woman once told me that a worthwhile endeavor is to be unconditionally friendly with ourselves. This is a good first step.

    1. jessicaletaw Reply

      7 July 2015 at 9:28pm

      You know…I hear exactly what you’re saying. I feel like I reach a different conclusion. There is, yes, the scale of me interacting with myself (and you with yourself, and all the other individual selves with themselves…). But, I think, what are the ramifications of that set of interactions? And the ramification is: everything. Every person I talk to. Every thing I do. Every action I do and every word I say and every effect I cause is a result of an interaction with myself. In that sense, this most personal relationship is, to my mind, the absolute largest on the spectrum.
      This is purely subjective! But it is definitely how I feel.
      Unconditional friendliness with oneself is a wonderful first step in any interaction or adventure. I wholeheartedly endorse the sentiment. I am glad you shared it.

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