Conflicts are a natural part of any friendship, and when they are handled appropriately, they can strengthen the relationship, notes Suzanne Fremont, Ph.D., with the University of Texas at Austin's counseling and mental health center. Anger stemming from a conflict is a common and often necessary emotion - but harboring too much anger without resolve or intent to forgive can cause additional problems in a relationship, such as resentment. When you're angry with a friend, it's best to focus on respectfully resolving your issues so that you can both move on and enjoy the friendship.
Practice anger management techniques. When you become angry with a friend, your first reaction may be to lash out in self-defense, but this instinctive behavior could cause more problems, says the American Psychological Association. You can manage your anger in several ways, according to the APA: assertively - not aggressively - declare your needs; suppress and redirect your anger toward something positive; and use techniques such as taking deep breaths to lower your heart rate and calm your internal impulses.
Get to the bottom of your anger. In private, think about what is upsetting you in regard to your friend; try to get to the root of the matter. If you're upset because your friend decided to go out on a date instead of hang out with you, think hard about what's causing your anger. You may discover that you're not mad at your friend after all, but that you're upset because you haven't been on a date in a while and are taking your anger out on your friend.
Practice acceptance and forgiveness. This applies to you and your friend. Accept that anger is a normal part of human life and forgive yourself for any hurtful or mean things you may have thought or said. It's equally important to accept your friend's error - which is also part of being human - and to forgive her for making a mistake that upset you.
Resolve the conflict with your friend. But before you move on, address the upsetting issue with your friend - using healthy conflict resolution skills - instead of trying to ignore the problem. Sara Reistad-Long in O magazine highlights useful conflict resolution strategies, such as finding a compromise between you and your friend and offering compliments during conflicts as a way to diffuse tension. Be sure you are calm before you attempt to resolve conflicts.
Let it go. Once you've resolved an issue with your friend, stop thinking about it and move on. Continue to practice anger management techniques, acceptance and forgiveness if your anger begins to arise - you can do this as often as necessary. You don't have to completely forget about the incident because there are lessons here for you to learn - lessons that you will need for future experiences - but you don't have to relive the anger associated with this incident.
- The University of Texas at Austin: UT Counseling and Mental Health Center: Building a Healthy Relationship from the Start: The Beginning Stages
- American Psychological Association: Controlling Anger Before It Controls You
- Mayo Clinic: Adult Health: Forgiveness: Letting Go of Grudges and Bitterness
- Oprah Magazine: Let's Not Fight! Five Ways to Keep the Peace
- Write down your angry feelings on a sheet of paper and then rip it to tiny pieces if you are having difficulties moving on. It doesn't matter if it takes you a while to release these feelings, just keep working on it until you feel the release.
- Do not attempt to resolve conflicts when you're angry. If your friend insists that you resolve a conflict immediately, explain that it's best for you to take the time that you need to calm down, or else you may say or do something that you'll later regret.
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