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  • Constantly Boiling With Anger? You May Be Experiencing 'Chronic Flooding'

    Read this before another quarrel erupts between you and your partner.
    by Angela Baylon .
Constantly Boiling With Anger? You May Be Experiencing 'Chronic Flooding'
PHOTO BY iStock
  • We've all been there, slammed the door, rolled our eyes, spoke louder than we normally would. We all know what anger is and we express it from time to time. But while, anger is a normal human emotion, it can also be destructive if not managed.

    In his blog, couples therapy counselor, Robert Navarra, Psy.D. explores why people feel anger, how it affects couples, and how to prevent it from ruining the relationship.

    Understanding anger 

    Anger becomes present when we feel that we have been wronged or placed in a frustrating situation. We all go through it, but it becomes troubling when anger starts controlling you, rather than you controlling this emotion.

    Usually, when we quarrel with our partners, our brain activates a fight or flight response. Both responses make us think the problem lies with the other person. We are quick to ask our partners: “What’s wrong with you?”

    Navarra said you can work on preventing this from happening by getting to know your triggers. It helps that when we feel angry, we confront ourselves first instead of immediately blaming our partners.

    According to Navarra, triggers are activated when we are faced with "events in our life that have any similarity or remind us of previous negative events in our history." And since we are wired to protect ourselves, we express anger as a form of self-defense.

    So, next time you feel angry, ask yourself: "What previous experience could have triggered you to feel an intense negative reaction?"

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    The negative effect of leaving triggers unchecked

    If we fail to address and acknowledge our triggers, "chronic flooding" can happen. Navarra explains flooding is a succession of intense reactions that can also be involuntary and, worse, could lead to abuse.

    "When we can begin to understand that flooding occurs when deeply felt emotions are being triggered, then we will be less likely to misinterpret the reaction as “crazy” or “oversensitive,” Navarra said.

    Navarra also presented ways to handle flooding:

    Take a break

    If you feel that the conversation with your partner is getting out of hand, take a pause. It will help if you make a signal or a gesture to let your partner that you want a time out.

    Get the debated topic out of your mind

    Once you take a break from the conversation, do something that will take your mind off the quarrel. Read, take a walk, meditate, watch your favorite show or listen to a podcast.

    Prepare to initiate a calm conversation

    Taking time off does not mean avoiding the problem altogether. Open communication still needs to happen. Navarro said that while you acknowledge your own triggers it's important to hear and be open about your partner's triggers as well.

    In the end, Navarro noted that anger is not all bad for a relationship. When partners' quarrel and choose to understand the root of each other's anger, it can "actually increase closeness and intimacy."

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