As a divorce lawyer, I’m used to seeing people at their worst. Often as the bearer of bad news, I am the one who gets blamed or yelled at, even though I know this situation has nothing to do with me. Luckily, once I’m off the clock, I don’t have to keep dealing with psychological warfare, but many others do, so here are 3 tips for dealing with misdirected anger:
1. Ask Why– If you can understand the source of someone’s anger, maybe you can help them problem-solve or at least sympathize with their situation.
2. Identify Patterns– Is there a specific behavior that triggers a visceral reaction? If so, maybe you can avoid the behavior, that is if you really care to change.
3. Learn to Disengage– Rather than argue, what if you don’t react? If you don’t fuel someone’s fire, it will burn out that much faster.
With rational people, talking through issues, learning to avoid triggers, and not rewarding bad behavior should work, but with irrational people you may find that nothing works. It helps to understand that many people suffer from mental health illnesses, and not all of them can be treated with medication. Now, while you can certainly have compassion for someone that is not well, you are not doing anyone any good (especially yourself or the kids) by just being that person’s punching bag.
Unfortunately, toxic people will keep creating toxic situations, which are incredibly unhealthy for everyone involved. Those that lack the ability or desire to change, won’t. If someone cannot see how their words or behaviors negatively impact those around them, you may be left with no choice but to get out– and be very careful when planning your escape because it is not likely to go over well.
Remember, those that are angry are actually wounded. Sometimes, we can talk through our disappointment, fears, concerns, and working together with our partners to address these issues, we can actually form a deeper bond. Sometimes, things are just beyond repair, and that is when you know it’s time to move on.
Calling it quits is not anyone’s first choice, and it is going to hurt– but you have to see it as short-term pain for long-term gain.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.