No one likes being attacked, but it could be one of your finest hours to show who you are and what is important to you. First of all, it is crucial to understand that how another person behaves may not have much to do with you but with issues they have. So, before you respond, it helps to take a step back, observe the situation, and ask yourself what am I actually fighting against, the other person or the anger they are experiencing, but which does not define their personality. How you are reacting needs to take into account what entity you are actually fighting against.
Fighting another person’s anger with anger is pointless, unless it helps the other person understand that they are angry and what they are angry about. If they are unaware of the real reasons for their angry, you need to communicate well, if you want them to understand. However, you are not their therapist. You can reflect to them that they have an issue and help them overcome it but you cannot solve it for them. If you did, you would not respect their autonomy as a person, and it would also often be ineffective.
However, what you can do is say how you see things and what you are feeling. If you are feeling angry because you are picking up on their anger, that in itself is already important to communicate. To that end, practice building awareness for how you feel, and where this feeling may come from. This is where healthy boundaries are helpful. They help identify what is happening inside you and what is happening in the other person. Without a sense of boundaries, you may interpret another person’s anger as your own. As a result, you may attack the other person to protect yourself, which may just heat up the altercation even further, because the other person will not understand why you appear angry. However, if you take a step back, connect with and feel yourself, and observe the situation, you can react to their feelings, be that anger, helplessness, sadness, hopelessness, pain, or any other feeling or thoughts that made them attack you. This response not only protects you more fully but also helps the other person to develop the insight to stop attacking you.
“You have hurt me by saying… I see you are angry. However, I know you do not want to hurt me and you are usually not an angry person. What is really going on?” or similar sentences can often defuse a situation between relatively sane people quite quickly. Of course, if I am getting attacked by someone wielding a knife, I do what is needed to be safe, which would often include a quick escape.
© 2021 Christian Jonathan Haverkampf. All Rights Reserved. For more articles, see www.askdrjonathan.com. To contact me, please see www.jonathanhaverkampf.com or www.jonathanhaverkampf.ie. I am also a guest on www.wordnets.com. These are just my thoughts. I may be wrong.