Wendy Warner is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in private practice at Trinity Family Counseling Center. In addition to working with couples, children, and individuals, Wendy also enjoys teaching the premarital classes for all couples planning to marry at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Macomb.
Think about the last time you were good and mad about something. What if your closest friend discovered you in your fuming state and told you to stop feeling angry? You know, just turn it off, and stop experiencing the pounding heart, the indignation, the desire to stomp your feet. It would be pretty difficult and might even make you madder. When we are upset, we want someone to try to understand how we got there.
In relationships we can inadvertently send the message, stop feeling those feelings. If someone we love is frustrated, hurt or angry, it is important to validate their emotional experience. It isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing with them, but rather listening to understand and letting them know we care that they are upset. Sometimes the recipient can focus primarily on eliminating the volume or anger in the room. If the one who is upset receives the message that their emotions are wrong or unimportant, they will feel dismissed, misunderstood, or worse—not cared about.
It is not okay for anyone to be disrespectful in their hurt or anger. However, it will help de-escalate their extreme emotions if they hear, “I understand you are pretty upset. I would like to talk to you about it and understand what happened.” In this way we can come alongside them with a desire to understand their emotional experience. Our loved one will feel cared about, and that begins soothing whatever got them so upset in the first place.