Anger happens when, in some perceived way, we get a sense of a violation. A boundary that is crossed or a misalignment between someone else values compared to our own.
Sometimes these violations may be known to us – we may be aware of what angered us. At other times, the cause of the angry response may be outside of our conscious awareness. This is usually because the value that has been violated is a much deeper value. We tend to be aware of our surface values (such as trust for example) which makes it easy to spot why, when someone behaves in an untrustworthy way, we would take issue with it.
However, other values (for example significance) may be less conscious or may be values that we do not necessarily want to admit to having at such a high priority that should they be violated we would react with anger.
Some time ago, I was working with a woman who had come to see me at the NLP and Hypnotherapy Clinic in Hertfordshire. She had initially enquired about sessions of hypnotherapy, but as is often the case, we were able to resolve many of the challenges with anger in her relationship by way of NLP and CBT techniques instead.
The woman was frequently angry with her husband. They had at the start of their relationship been very loving towards each other but over the years she had come to resent him in some way and would fly off the handle very easily.
The husband would tolerate the snappy comments but every now and again, if she had been particularly provocative he would bite back and then a huge argument would begin.
Initially, I asked the woman about how her relationship was before the anger had crept in. Back then, she described her husband as a man who was always on the go. He seemed particularly energetic and had aspirations to start his own business. She felt that he was keen to impress her and that was where a great deal of his every had come from.
However, his plans to start his own business had gone out of the window, when they became pregnant with their first child. It seemed more sensible that he would take a promotion in his work instead.
Very soon their lives had transformed from an uncertain but adventurous future of starting their own business and carving out their lives together, to him going to work each day whilst she stayed at home looking after their child.
She became more dynamic as she ran the home and raised the child. He became exhausted by doing a job he did not enjoy. She began picking up the slack and doing more to make up for his lack of lust for life.
As this happened, unconsciously she began to think that his feeling toward her had changed. He no longer felt free and excited about the future and it appeared that the energised behaviour that he had previously had (which she had taken to mean he wanted to impress her) was gone. When she became more active and enthusiastic in her life he began to feel redundant in the dynamics of their relationship – as if he were no longer needed.
His response was to withdraw and hers was to attempt to jolt him into action with shocks of spikiness. Neither technique worked and this is why they both ended up getting so angry with each other.
Finding new and effective ways to respond to each other, change the balance in the relationship, show respect and appreciation and re-motivate each other was just one of the strategies we explore at the hypnotherapy Clinic. Finding out what you value most in your relationship and how those values may be getting violated is often the best way to diagnose the cause of anger in relationships and an NLP Practitioner would be able to help you to do this.
By Gemma Bailey