Having a best friend has its benefits, such as a shoulder to cry on when life gets rough or a trusted confidant with whom to share your deepest secrets. Yet, even the closest friends get mad at each other. Anger is a normal emotion that can be difficult to communicate to someone you care about. Expressing your anger in healthy ways offers personal growth opportunities and can strengthen your friendship.
Acknowledge your anger. Anger is a feeling that everyone experiences and can be channeled to help get things done and to give you the courage to stand up against injustices, says licensed marriage and family therapist, author and relationship consultant Athena Staik, Ph.D. Accept your angry feelings and don't judge yourself for being upset with your friend. Being honest about your anger puts this emotion in plain sight, which then allows you to find constructive ways to manage your feelings.
Calm down. Before you attempt to talk to your friend, make sure you're not in a heated rage. Go for a walk or take deep breaths - counting to 10 - to help you gain your composure and ability to think rationally. Angry outbursts make things worse, says Staik, and can cause more pain to yourself and to others. If you want to successfully express your angry feelings to your friend, it's best to wait until your emotions have cooled down.
Get to the bottom of your anger. In a 2011 Wall Street Journal article, Elizabeth Bernstein suggests that you get to the root of what's really bothering you when you're angry because there may be deeper frustrations below the surface. Journal or brainstorm to determine if you're angry at your best friend for an isolated incident or if you've allowed anger to stew over a previous offense that you failed to make your friend aware of.
Be clear about your intentions. Bernstein recommends that you identify why you're telling your friend about your anger. Be honest with yourself and determine whether you want to blame your friend for your angry feelings, or if you want to discuss the matter with her so that the two of you can work out the conflict and resume your friendship. Gaining awareness of your intentions will influence the way you present your grievance to your friend.
Be open and honest about your feelings. Tell your friend why you're upset by focusing solely on your actions and feelings. Don't spend time reminding your friend about her role in the disagreement - this shifts the focus away from you and may make your friend defensive. Try a statement like this: "I felt angry when you did 'such-and-such,' " and refrain from statements like "if you wouldn't have done 'x,' then I wouldn't have become angry."
- Ask your friend about his hurtful behavior to gain better understanding about the conflict after you've calmly expressed your angry feelings. Set guidelines with your friend to determine how the two of you will handle similar conflicts in the future.
- Don't allow angry feelings to fester for too long. Don't jump to conclusions about your friend's behavior - it's only fair that you hear her side of the story.
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