All living creatures have needs. But in addition to our basic life-sustaining physical needs, people have needs for affection, connection, understanding, appreciation, intimacy and compassion, among other feelings within our relationships.
Our anger may make it particularly hard for us to express our needs. We may believe that we shouldn’t have to express them – that those close to us should “just understand.” In that familiar cyclic pattern, feeling misunderstood stokes our anger. We often place the blame squarely on those who don’t understand us. “You should have known that I was upset,” we might bark at our loved one. “You knew that I was busy that night and yet you made plans anyway.” “I shouldn’t have to ask; you should just know.” “You’re just afraid to admit that I’m right.”
Each of these bursts of anger is a mis-stated expression of need. We are secretly pleading for the other person to love us, understand us, value our existence and ideas and show they care in a way that will make us feel less lonely.
Our anger and needs may show up in other ways. We may become harsh and bossy when we need acknowledgement. We may get abusive when we need to cover up our feelings of helplessness or weakness. We may raise our voice threateningly when we merely need someone to listen to us.
Unfortunately, our anger makes it more difficult for us to get our needs met. When we show our anger, we make other people defensive; the last thing they want to do is to act generously toward us.
Unless we seek help, this mutually-fueled connection between anger and needs will persist. It can damage or even destroy our relationships. Breaking the pattern is not hard. If we’re committed to leading a more satisfying life, an understanding counselor will help us transform our anger and guide us toward personal fulfillment.
For a free phone consult, call Dr. Fibus at 818.395.2831.