Defending or Explaining? Resolve Anger with Genuine Explanations



As a peace-loving Libra, I’m always looking for ways to minimize conflict, ways for us to get along better, regardless of our differences.


So I was quite taken with a post a friend forwarded to me: “Explain your anger, don’t express it, and you will immediately open the door to solutions instead of arguments” (author unknown). Sounds nifty, doesn’t it?


Defending or Explaining?

But here’s the thing: most of us think we’re explaining our anger/upset, when what we’re really doing is defending it. For example, you’re upset your S.O. blew a chunk of your mutual savings on a new computer. In response to their “Why are you so upset? You know I needed it,” you explain, “Well I need a vacation/new car/fill-in-the-blank, and now we can’t afford one.” There. You’ve explained your anger.


No, you haven’t. You’ve justified it. Which doesn’t lead to any solution. Since problem solving really is the name of the game in relationships - platonic, romantic, or with co-workers – this kind of “explanation” doesn’t fly. You’re still upset and nothing’s been resolved.


Make Your Explanation Genuine.

A genuine explanation might run along the lines of: “We have a limited amount of savings. I’m uncomfortable with your making decisions on how to spend that without us having a conversation beforehand. So we can agree on what gets spent where. I’m upset because I feel left out or that what I want isn’t important. I’m upset because it feels like we’re not working together, as a couple, on couple things. I’m not upset about your buying the computer, but with how you went about it. I would appreciate an opportunity for us to agree on some way we could talk about these things ahead of time. That would make me very happy.”


Yes, this sort of explanation takes more time, thought and effort. Yes, it may seem overwrought and sometimes unnecessary. But shortcuts aren’t always the road to happy endings, and what you want in your life, are happy endings. To everything! Or perhaps, better stated, resolutions that are satisfying to all concerned.


Be willing to go for your genuine, in-depth, authentic explanation of upsets. Your relationships will benefit greatly, and you will enjoy a whole new dimension of peace.

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