The Dangers of Anger and Resentment
Two of the biggest obstacles to good sex are anger and resentment. The difference between the two is that resentment is anger felt but not expressed. We get angry when we feel agreements have been broken, expectations disappointed, or boundaries trespassed. Resentment is when we keep nursing that anger over time.
How Conflict Happens in Typical Relationships
Since this is the “Pleasure and Orgasm are Good” zone, you know I’m going to be looking at how we can remove these obstacles to intimacy, and get back into bed. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what leads to conflict in relationships, and come to the conclusion that much of it comes from distortions of thinking.
Here is the typical sequence of events:
- Triggering Event Happens – For example, my beloved has broken one of our agreements
- I make up meaning out of this event – Usually this meaning is something negative about the self. “He doesn’t love me, I’m not important enough.” or about them, “he’s dishonest, untrustworthy.”
- I tap into old beliefs around scarcity, abandonment, unworthiness
- I have feelings about the story I have just told myself – I’m sad, mad or afraid
- I react from these feelings with – anger, victimization, and blame
- The result is fight or flight = less connection
Transforming Triggers into Tenderness
Assuming that we have the goal of feeling closer to our partner, how can we transform this sequence into something that serves us and our relationship?
The culprit (and the solution) is in step 2. Situations happen. Of themselves, they are neither good nor bad. If we change what we think, we can change the outcome. Do this often enough, and you begin to re-pattern yourself. You have to be willing to believe that your story is not The Truth, it is A Version of the Truth.
Here is the new possible sequence:
- Triggering Event happens
- I notice that I am using this circumstance to distance from my partner
- I transform the trigger by telling a new story about how what is happening actually serves me (you may need to dig deep, but trust me, this is there. Everything that happens to us happens to propel us toward better)
- I look at the situation clearly and note what my feelings and needs are
- I respond in positive ways that create more communication and gratification
Following our example, here is what it could look like:
- My partner doesn’t call when I expected him to.
- I notice myself feeling mopey, and sniping at him, because I feel like he doesn’t care about me.
- I try on some new thoughts. He was protecting me from his bad mood. He was busy doing things that made him feel great, so that next time I see him he will be pumped and energized. Not being in touch gives him a chance to miss me. And so on.
- I decide that space is good. I would rather he call me when he wants to and not because he has to. I’m getting a chance to break old patterns of co-dependency where my happiness is tied to outside validation from another. At the same time, I recognize that I have a desire/need for connection and predictability. That makes me feel safe, and loved, and it’s totally valid.
- I communicate from my vulnerability rather than a sense of making him wrong. I ask how we can address both my need for predictability and connection with his need for freedom and we come up with a solution together.
- The result is more love.
A Worksheet to Help You
Many of my clients ask me how to make love last. Transforming your triggers is a way to stay out of the damaging cycle of anger and resentment. I’ve made up a worksheet to help you see the cycle, with some questions to ask yourself which will help break your patterns.
You can download it right HERE.