Box of Coloured Eggs With Painted Faces - Verbal Abuse: When The Joke Just Isn't Funny - Sandra Harewood Counselling

Verbal Abuse: When The Joke Just Isn’t Funny

Box of Coloured Eggs With Painted Faces - Verbal Abuse: When The Joke Just Isn't Funny - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Many people assume that verbal abuse is just about swearing.  And some go one step further by thinking that swearing is only abusive if it’s attached to name-calling. If they didn’t call you an #@$%ing [insert], then they haven’t been abusive. Read more

Frightened woman with her arm outstretched with the word stop written on her hand. The Honest Truth About Your Partner's Anger Issues. Sandra Harewood Counselling

The Honest Truth About Your Partner’s Anger Issues

Woman with her arm outstretched with the word written on her hand. The Honest Truth About Your Partner's Anger Issues. Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

What we have called anger may be abuse – David Richo

You can usually tell when someone is angry. It’s visceral. A raised voice, trembling, fidgeting, fast speech, heavy breathing, the furrowed brow, the clenched hand or maybe flared nostrils. But equally, it can be the opposite. Silence or sudden disappearance.

Often couples come to counselling naming a problem with anger in the relationship, anticipating that better communication and anger management skills would help solve the problem of endless conflict.

The problem is, however, that abuse and anger look similar. Abuse is visceral. But equally, it can be the opposite; the cold shoulder, stonewalling or the silent treatment.

Anger is a normal, healthy human emotion. When it is an authentic form of self-expression, anger is assertive and can enrich and repair relationships.

Anger issues can, however, damage and put relationships at risk, especially in controlling or narcissistic relationships.

One Thing You Need To Know About Anger

When people conclude that anger causes abuse, they are confusing cause and effect. “[He] was not abusive because he was angry; he was angry because he was abusive”. – Lundy Bancroft

In other words, anger is a tool of abuse. It must be remembered that control in some relationships is a form of abuse.

It’s important to realise that the purpose of control is to make you small. If you become fearful of your partners’ anger and that fear stops you from speaking up, doing the things you want to do or taking care of your children, then that is a symptom of control.

It may well be true that your partner is triggered and has difficulty managing their anger. But if there is a pattern of anger for which there is no genuine accountability, no will to do something different or it is expressed no matter what the cost or hurt, then perhaps it’s not anger management that’s needed but more rather a closer look at the need to control; the need to control you.

7 Warning Signs That Those Anger Issues Are Abusive

So, while anger and abuse might look the same, there are differences. Here are 7 ways you can tell.

1. True anger is direct. Abusive anger is displaced.

When you are being direct, you speak up respectfully and say what doesn’t feel right. “Excuse me that’s not okay”, or” that’s enough” or ”that hurt me, and I’m angry about that.” No drama, just a few calm words.

How you feel about being direct is another matter. Our relationship with anger comes from our childhood experiences. How did you see your parents manage conflict? Were there slamming doors, violence or loud voices as you nervously sat in your bedroom?

Maybe there were no anger issues at all, they never argued. Perhaps, in that case, the anger was displaced. Was your dad always sleeping and disengaged or maybe your mum always seemed angry with you blaming and shaming? Or maybe you had a genuine sense that they sat down and worked things out in a respectful way.

And what about you? Can you remember your teenage self saying NO to a parent? What about stomping up to your room and throwing a pillow across it or wanting to leave the house to cool down that rage. Did you have a parent who let you be angry, validated your feelings and taught you safer, healthier ways to express them? When a child has their feelings validated, they learn to express them directly and safely.

The alternative is abusive displaced anger. This way, anger is expressed through sarcasm, lateness, revenge tactics and feigned illness. They say, “I’m not angry, but.” And displaced anger issues are directed to the wrong person because it’s easier. So your partner won’t express their anger to their boss or family member, but instead, it is misdirected towards you, situations or other people that aren’t responsible for the pain they feel.

2. Healthy anger is expressive. Abusive anger is threatening.

Some of the expressions mentioned above are normal and healthy physiological responses to anger. Others are choices. These include screaming, swearing, name-calling, threats, intimidation, demands and jokes that are intended to harm, not amuse. Perhaps your partner tells you to “shut up” or barges past you because they want to leave the room. Pushing, shoving, and breaking your personal property are all forms of physical abuse. This is abusive anger.

3. Real anger arises from injustice. Abusive anger arises from an injured ego.

Your partner is unfaithful, they’re not pulling their weight around the house, they have mistreated your children, or perhaps they are driving dangerously when you are in the car. From time to time, they lock themselves in the study for long hours absorbed with their work. These are all things that undermine your sense of safety, intimacy and connection and need to be addressed.

Abusive anger arises from a bruised ego. Your partner feels disrespected because you are paying others too much attention or you’re not taking their side when they are inappropriately disciplining the children. If you are successful at work or other people admire your intellect, your partner feels envious and slighted. You might notice their anger at such times, particularly if they are professionally struggling. Perhaps an argument occurs just before a job interview or presentation.

4. Healthy anger communicates a problem. Abusive anger silences.

Your anger is communicating something to you. When it rears, it’s letting you know that you feel hurt, betrayed, disappointed, neglected, sad, tired, stuck or scared. Additionally, anger is also a sign that a boundary has been broken and needs to be reset. It’s perfectly natural to want to communicate those things to your partner.

In contrast, abusive anger shuts communication down. Your partner may use the silent treatment to bully, blame and intimidate you until you are silenced.

5. True anger looks for accountability. Abusive anger blames.

Accountability means doing something about your behaviour so that change occurs. When you are accountable and take responsibility for your actions, there is an opportunity for personal growth and healing as well as growth in the relationship.

Apologising and then doing more of the same isn’t being accountable. Narcissistically wounded people find it difficult to say sorry and do not take responsibility for their actions. On the contrary, blame, revenge and gaslighting take centre stage.

6. Genuine anger lets go. Abusive anger holds on.

To let go doesn’t mean that you don’t express and communicate your anger. What it does mean is that you work towards resolution and closure.

Abusive anger lingers and results in resentment, hate, grudges and bitterness. What this means is that the issues you thought were resolved come back again and again. For this reason, you feel as if you are treading on eggshells as you don’t know when your partner’s anger will be triggered. Your partner holding on to anger also means that they are more likely to use gaslighting to manipulate you.

7. Healthy anger is safe. Abusive anger is out of control.

Anger management isn’t about not getting angry; it’s about containment and the appropriate expression of anger. Inevitably, that means getting to know how your anger is awakened and how it manifests in your body, as well as mind and feelings. But no-one has the authority to take away your right to be angry.

Abusive anger is often uncontained and uncontrolled with inappropriate expressions of anger. It’s characterised by loss of temper and retaliatory behaviour. You might hear, “I only did that because I was angry” or “I can’t help myself when I’m angry”’ or “you made me angry.” It doesn’t feel safe to be around someone when they are expressing anger in this way.

Out of The Fog

On reading this, you might notice that your legitimate true anger is often responded to by your partner’s abusive anger. Or maybe sometimes you feel out of control. These are all legitimate feelings when faced with abuse anger. In my next post, I’ll let you know why fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) may leave you feeling this way.

Over to You

What do you notice about your partners’ anger issues?  Are you able to express your anger issues safety? If you want to understand what your partner behaviour means and discover healthy, safe ways to respond get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. PASS IT ON

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*Adapted from How To Be An Adult in Love – David Richo.

© Sandra Harewood 2019

About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create a great relationship. 

Get my FREE guide The 7 Feelings You Have When You’re In Narcissistic Relationship + be on my list and be the first to receive my latest news, blogs & workshops for health, wellbeing and healing from narcissistic abuse.

 

Couple Gazing At Water - 5 Subtle Signs Of A Controlling Relationship That Look Like Care

5 Subtle Signs Of A Controlling Relationship That Look Like Care

Couple Gazing At Water - 9 Ways You Confuse A Controlling Relationship With Care - Sandra-Harewood-Counselling.jpg

 

When in your relationship do you feel cared for?

Sometimes we feel embarrassed about our wish to be cared for. But Rick Hanson PhD says that wanting to be cared for is natural, and deeply rooted in evolution. Care is a symbol of love. And love, generally speaking, has been the primary driver of the development of the human brain over millions of years. Care is crucial to survival. Read more

Yellow Caution Tape - 9 Warning Signs of Narcissism In Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

9 Warning Signs of Narcissism In Your Relationship

Yellow Caution Tape - 9 Warning Signs of Narcissism In Your Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

When the need for self-confirmation becomes extreme, then you enter the domain of potentially unhealthy or pathological narcissism. Read more

Doormat With Oh Shit Not You Again In Words - Why It's Hard To Stop Being A People Pleaser And Say No - Sandra Harewood Counselling

Why It’s Hard To Stop Being A People Pleaser And Say No

 

Doormat With Oh Shit Not You Again In Words - Why It's Hard To Stop Being A People Pleaser And Say No - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

It’s painful when you find yourself in a relationship continually giving more than you receive. And yet at the same time, it’s hard to stop being a people pleaser.  In fact, it’s a role that you’ve become all too used to.

And really, why would you want to do that, even to the point of being unhappy, stressed, resentful, and physically and emotionally ill?

The answer: Read more

Young woman looking through the train window with a serious mood - Echo's Story - How Living With Narcissism Affects You - Sandra Harewood Counselling

Echo’s Story – How Living With Narcissism Affects You

Young woman looking through the train window with a serious mood - Echo's Story - How Living With Narcissism Affects You - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

In my previous blog post, I wrote about the story of Narcissus and Echo to give you clues as to whether you are living with someone with a narcissistic personality.  If you didn’t read it click here to check it out.

That post was about understanding the modern day Narcissus.  Now it’s Echo’s turn and how living with narcissism affects you. Read more

Man Looking In Three Way Mirror - Is My Partner A Narcissist - The Dance Between Narcissus and Echo - Sandra Harewood Counselling

Is My Partner A Narcissist – The Dance Between Narcissus and Echo

Man Looking In Three Way Mirror - Is My Partner A Narcissist - The Dance Between Narcissus and Echo - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

If you’re in a relationship and notice that you have lost your voice, your spirit, feel overlooked, lonely, and that your needs are not important, this classic story might feel painfully familiar.  Read more

Two Red Paper Hearts On A Clothes Line - 20 Love Quotes That Express The True Meaning Of Love - Sandra Harewood Counselling

20 Love Quotes That Express The True Meaning Of Love

Two Red Paper Hearts On A Clothes Line - 20 Love Quotes That Express The True Meaning Of Love - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

There are only a couple more days until Valentine’s Day.

So to get into the spirit of the day, I’m sharing thoughts and sayings about love. These are from people who I think you’ll find have something interesting to say about this thing called love.

And I’ve chosen these 20 love quotes because they’re timeless. They’re thoughts not just about happy, romantic love but of the many different types of love and phases of love.  Read more

A Woman Meditating Outdoors -7 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You A Better Lover Sandra Harewood Counselling

7 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You A Better Lover

A Woman Meditating Outdoors -7 Ways Mindfulness Can Make You A Better Lover Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

Hard to imagine that sitting quietly and focusing on the breath for as little as 20 minutes a day can improve your love life.

But hear me out, practising mindfulness can help make you a better lover and life partner.

First a little story.

A Mind Full Is Not Mindful

Recently, I was sitting on a bus my mind busy with conversations I’d had, conversations I was going to have, the friends I was going to meet and a whole lot more.  My mind was full.  When I got off, to my horror, I realised I’d left a bag behind.  A big, bright, heavy, orange bag.

It would have been easy to listen to an inner critical voice reprimanding me for what I had done. But at that moment, together with the usual feelings that come with a loss, I realised that I hadn’t been present.  Entirely on auto-pilot, and in full flight, my mind and body had parted company.  I did not feel, see or hear the bag drop.

Mindfulness does not clear the mind of thoughts but allows you to focus your awareness on the here and now, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.  

Mindfulness develops patience.  In many ways, we have lost our connection with the divine wisdom of nature.  We are so often in a rush and impatient, not giving space for things to reveal themselves in their own time.  Mindfulness allows you to be open to whatever is unfolding in you to do so in its own time.

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Relationships demand patience.  Relationships demand it because sometimes you have to sit with the discomfort of the unknown; does your partner want to leave, can they meet your needs or just who is this person in your life.  Relationships ask you to allow your partner the space to recover after the hurt of an argument. And they require you to let your lover have ‘me time’ to nourish their souls.

Patience allows you to honour the mysteries of love and relationship which Thomas Moore describes.  Siting with the unknown can feel tense but ultimately will enrich your partnership.

2.  Understanding Myself; Understanding My Lover

A mindfulness meditation practice paves the way for you to become more intuitive about yourself.  As self-awareness grows, gradually you notice you’re more comfortable with who you are.  You discover that you’re happy in your skin and feel the acceptance, compassion, contentment and peace that comes from a love of the self.

It sounds cliche, but it’s true, loving yourself opens the door to loving and accepting others unconditionally.

Difficulties in relationships often occur because we’re not clear about our internal landscape or patterns in relationships.   Then we project what we don’t like about ourselves or get caught replaying past hurts with our partners. Ouch, that hurts!

When you start to pay attention, with compassion, to your imperfections, unawareness and unconsciousness something different happens.  As you begin to see love as a way of being present, not merely a feeling, you focus on being a more loving realistic person, partner and lover.

3.  You Grant The 5 A’s

In his book How To Be An Adult in Relationships, David Richo explores the five hallmarks of mindful loving.  For him, adult love is based on a mutual dedication to granting attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection and ‘allowing’.  These are the doorways to the joys and wealth of relationship.

What often gets in the way of granting the 5 A’s are fear, judgement and the need to control.  You cannot stop the mind from engaging in these thoughts, but a mindfulness practice reduces their impact.   You can take a step back, notice them and let them walk on by without fighting with them.  Then you can enjoy the closeness that comes with your partner from offering the 5 A’s.

4.  Help Affair-Proof Your Relationship

What a joy it is to watch a baby exploring and noticing everything for the first time.  Bringing a beginners’ mind to your daily life can help to free you from the tendency to see things through a veil of preconceptions and judgement.  Mindfulness fosters a beginners mind.

Be curious about your partner.  When you lose the mystery and curiosity, it signals to your partner that you are not attentive, profoundly engaged or concerned about them.  This loss of interest is often an accelerant to infidelity.

5.  You’re A Better Listener

How often do you hear the sounds coming out of your partner’s mouth but you haven’t listened to what they’re saying?  It’s easy to get distracted, either by thoughts about your reply or trying to work out the logic of what is being said.

Are you listening to understand or do you listen to respond?

A mindfulness practice cultivates deep listening.  How?  You already know that mindfulness allows you to be more patient, accepting and less distracted.  These are all excellent listening skills.

But what mindfulness also allows you to do, is expand listening beyond the ears.  You notice your feelings and the physical reactions which are clues to what will stop you from listening. And you might also tune into an empathic response connecting you emotionally to what partner is letting you know.

When your partner feels listened to, they feel more connected to you.

6.  You Spice Up Your Sex Life

There is a lot of scientific evidence to show that mindfulness reduces stress and anxiety.  You feel more relaxed and energised.  Fatigue and lethargy are not good backdrops for great sex and stress takes its toll on your libido.

A mindfulness meditation practice is so good for your sex life in many ways.  Self-awareness includes sensual and bodily awareness.  You become more connected to not only your own but your lovers’ body; the softness and texture of the skin, the curvature of the body, heat, moisture and so much more.  As you explore and connect with each other differently, this deepens sexual intimacy.

And as you are more present, you can fully immerse yourself and enjoy sensations as you detach from your thoughts and mental chatter.

7.  You Reduce Arguments

Being mindful you become less attached to holding on to the past and grasping an imagined future. Letting go brings you into the present moment and just notice what is.  And as you become more present you are more likely to see the colours, sounds, smells and richness of everyday life, be more positive and appreciative.

We often think that being mindful requires engaging in a particular activity like meditation or yoga. If you practice these activities in your day, that’s great, but there are also lots of other simple things you can do to be mindful all day long.  In the next post of the series, I’ll let you know how.

Over To You

If you want to explore how mindfulness can make you a better lover and life partner get in touch and book your first counselling appointment.

Or call me today on 07535 864836.

Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. PASS IT ON

Enjoyed this post? Then use the icons below to tweet it, share it on Facebook and send it to specific friends via email.

© Sandra Harewood

 About Sandra

Soul Centred couples counsellor Sandra Harewood specialises in working with couples and single women with childhood wounding that impacts their adult relationships. Sandra provides a soulful space for her clients to explore and discover creative solutions to their difficulties and create great relationships.

 

 

 

Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

A Little Known Fact That Could Affect Your Relationship

 

Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Teen boy with his feet hanging out of a car window - Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling Childhood Wounding Relationship - Sandra Harewood Counselling

 

We all have a past. It’s part of the unique story that makes you who you are. 

Being overly preoccupied with the past perhaps isn’t helpful; but there are undoubtedly important things from your history which, when worked through, can help you fully experience the present and look forward to enjoying a future filled with rewarding relationships.

I often notice with clients how difficult it often is for them to connect with any childhood wounding.

Telling the story can feel like a betrayal of a parent, particularly if they identify with difficulties in their parent’s story. For example, if the parent was ill, abandoned by a partner, suffered bereavement, or had their own history of trauma. It’s often easy is to connect with and understand the parents’ hurt.

But, what this means is leaving the experience of the child (you) out of the story. Read more