Let Anger Be Your Guide

Growing up I remember there was a lot of anger in my house. All the adults seemed to be angry all the time and often it felt like it was directed at me, although I had no idea why.

Many of us deal with anger based on the patterns that were set forth for us by our own parents/caregivers.

This certainly was true for me. When my now 12-year-old boy hit the age of 3ish, I noticed that I was angry often. Easily set off and slow to cool down.

I remember one day my husband said, “why are you so angry all the time, this is supposed to be enjoyable”. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was the angry parent!

My anger level was one of the signs early on in my parenting journey that I desperately wanted things to change.

So, I became a student of anger. Why was I angry? How did I get here? What should I do about it? Where does it come from? How should I feel about it?

As I began to dig into my anger, I discovered that underneath it all were my own UNMET NEEDS! Did you know this? I certainly didn’t. I want you to read this again. Underneath anger is unmet needs!

So now when I find myself getting angry, I take a step back and ask myself what need do I have that isn’t being met?

Recently I found myself getting angry at the end of the evening. We (hubby and I) would ask our boy to get ready for bed, which includes things like shower, brush teeth etc.) and he would say no (just want I wanted to hear after a long day), beg for 30 more minutes of TV time, drag his feet, lollygag, become easily distracted with any shiny new object in the room, want to kiss the dog, and ask me how my day went. And while he is doing all of this, I am thinking, “It’s late, I am ready to sit down and relax and I just want to clock out for night and be done working, wifing, adulting, and parenting.”

Can you feel me? Can you feel my anxiety rise as you read this? Can you clearly see my unmet need? I needed at least 1hr of “me time” before I went to bed to just relax and wind down.

After a few too many rinse and repeats of the same night, I found my anger growing and my fuse getting shorter and shorter. And of course, as it goes, I finally reach my limit one night. I felt myself about to explode at my son…really explode.

BUT I was able to catch myself and ask …what is going on here? What are my unmet needs? (Yes- I had this exact conversation with myself)

I realized I wanted this part of my day to be smoother. I wanted my son to be more efficient. I wanted him to understand that I was tired and didn’t appreciate his shenanigans.

I understood that he is also tired and doesn’t want to move fast. He doesn’t want to do the things I am requesting like shower, brush teeth and go to bed. I realized that he struggles to turn off the TV and instantly do what I am asking. I also came to see that I was letting this go on and on each night for a while and expecting a different result (definition of crazy here!)

Once my unmet need became clear to me, I was able to proceed from a different place. I got us through that night, and the next day during dinner we (hubby, son and I) had a conversation about our night time routine. I shared how our current game plan wasn’t working for me. I shared my need to have it be easier, calmer and more efficient. I asked about their feelings and needs. My son shared he doesn’t want to shower right after dinner, which is my preferred timing.

We talked it through and came up with a new game plan that meets all our needs. We wrote it out and posted it on our chalkboard. We all committed to the new plan and agreed that if it isn’t working we will revisit it.

But what feels good is:

I know the source of my anger (my unmet need),

Once I identified it, I was able to work on getting my need met (new bedtime routine),

I was able to discuss my feelings and needs with my son AND hear his feelings and needs

We created a plan that met everyone’s needs and dissipated the anger

And finally, we agreed to revisit (when calm) if it isn’t working for everyone

So much easier and more fun than just carrying around the anger!

Ok now your turn…when do you find yourself getting angry while parenting? Asking your kids to get ready in the morning? Sibling fighting? Getting your kids to listen when you make a request?

Now use your anger as your guide. Go deep and uncover what it is you really want/need in that moment.

Let anger be your detective!

Like this idea but not sure what you need? Not sure how to do this? No problem! I gotcha!

I am here to help you navigate this process. Just click here to set up a free 30-minute discovery session with me and we will work on this together!

About the author

Lisa Smith

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