Now that Donald Trump is the Republican presumptive nominee for president I thought it would be good to notice what he teaches us all about healthy relationships.
And speaking the truth to each other is the foundation of great and intimate relationships. And because anger energizes us to speak the truth, it helps to cultivate intimacy. In fact, learning how to skillfully use anger for intimacy is one of the most important relationship skills we can develop.
Here’s how to use anger positively:
First, embrace it: anger is a gift to our relationships. Anger is telling us that something is wrong, out of balance, unjust and needs your attention. Anger shows up to literally give us the energy to speak truth, and intimacy requires truth. Without a little anger now and then we will avoid tough conversations, which only weakens our connection. So don’t push it away.
Second, make sense of anger before speaking it. Do a little exploring. What is underneath the anger? What hurts? What seems unfair? What needs protection? Then, share the anger from there. For example, instead of saying “you piss me off when you talk to me like that!” try saying “it hurts when you talk to me like that so I get mad and shut down.”
Third, never yell, blame, threaten or vent your anger Venting is bad for your emotional brain and amounts to rehearsing and strengthening your anger. (OK let’s be real: Donald Trump is not a good example of this one!)
Fourth, stay calm and vulnerable. When anger mixes with a harsh tone, we inevitably trigger the primitive center of the other person’s brain, shutting down the possibility of a healing conversation. Instead, calm down, using breathing exercises first if needed.
And what about Donald Trump? Regardless of whether you like him as a person or not (and most people don’t like him), let’s allow him to remind us this election season that anger is a valuable part of every intimate relationship.
The point? Your anger will deepen your connections when you practice embracing it, understanding it and expressing it with calm and vulnerability. Anger is your friend.
(How’s that for a positive spin on this election season?)