I’ve spoken about anger a lot, but this is the first time that I’m addressing anger from the female perspective. I’m specifically addressing some of the relationship triggers that cause women to become angry and how woman might experience anger differently than men do.
But before we get into all of that, let me remind you that anger is a totally natural, and often even reasonable, response to a sense of injustice or feeling that your safety is in jeopardy. Expecting that we’ll never feel anger is unreasonable because it’s a healthy, biological response intended to keep us safe from harm. The problems arise when our angry reaction to feeling threatened becomes destructive, chronic, and begins to affect our mental and physical health.
What Makes Women Angry?
I recently reached out to a number of women and asked them to share with me some of their anger triggers. What I didn’t expect was the fast and furious flurry of responses, lighting up my phone for hours. Here are a few of the many things these women said they get angry about:
- When their partner won’t “come clean.” Women can often deal better with the truth than a pattern of deception.
- When they’re feeling overwhelmed or powerless.
- When it always falls on them to plan or coordinate.
- When they don’t have enough time or personal space.
- When they’re not being taken seriously because they’re a woman.
- When someone else thinks that they know what’s best for them.
- When they feel taken for granted.
The Difference Between Women’s Anger and Men’s Anger
So how do women experience anger differently than men do? Well, one thing that stands out, is that women, unlike men, often don’t feel justified in feeling angry, so they hide anger or push it down. But doing this just sets into motion a game of emotional/spiritual whack-a-mole, where anything you push down will ultimately have some repercussion elsewhere. In this case, unexpressed anger will often show up as heightened stress and, if not dealt with soon enough, potentially chronic disease. This may be the very reason why so many women that we work with at the Marriage Recovery Center are suffering from chronic diseases.
What to Do When You’re Angry
So, women, what can you do when you’re fuming and you don’t want to lash out unfairly, but you also don’t want to hold onto it and cause yourself undue harm?
- Take a time out to calm down.
When your nervous system is in a state of fight or flight, it’s near impossible to respond thoughtfully or with any awareness.
- Organize your thoughts.
Once you’re calmed down, and that might even take a few hours or overnight, organize your thoughts, so that you can clearly identify the reason you’re feeling triggered in the first place.
- Create a space for healthy communication.
Remember that, above all else, what you want is to be heard and understood. So, to make this possible, you’ll need to communicate effectively, or else you’re just making the situation worse.
Remember the words of Maggie Kuhn, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” In this way, you not only give a voice to the problem, but you create the possibility for real resolution.
Moving Beyond Anger
If you’ve been experiencing anger that has become destructive or chronic and is hurting your relationships, we have a program called Moving Beyond Anger that can help you. To learn more about the program or to register, contact our Client Care Team.