Deadly Sins Part I: Wrath
In our continuing series on the 7 deadly sins, we present Wrath. Read our piece on “Sloth”, “Envy”, “Pride”, and “Greed”.
WRATH is “intense anger, usually on an epic scale”, which sounds pretty awesome thanks to the word “epic” (there could be dragons involved!) but is generally a pretty bad thing—especially when it gets out of your control. It’s one thing to be angry for a good reason, but having an exaggerated response or letting things get out of hand and doing something you regret is usually what puts the “sin” into the whole wrath scene. Let’s look at the symptoms.
- Epic Battles. Once again, “epic” is a negative here because it’s suggesting that you’ve gotten past the point of lovers’ quarrels and bickering to something closer to slammed doors and screaming fights. Possibly even the occasional thrown vase, if you’re living in a soap opera.
- Rage Blackouts: You know when you’re so angry you can’t even see or think straight? You’re going purely on instinct, adrenaline and rage and you’re saying things you don’t mean—things you might not be able to take back later on.
- Constant Annoyance: This is another sign that’s easier to ignore than the ones above. Maybe you’re not always at war or you’re not screaming unforgivable insults, but if your back is always up and you can’t go a single day without having to force a smile or tell yourself not to blow up, your blood pressure and your relationship are going to suffer.
It’s time for our old friend Conflict Resolution to step in and help out. Now, all of the above problems are different and have different specific solutions, but there are three general steps you’re going to need to take if you want to get anywhere.
STEP ONE – Take a Breather.
Now, when we suggest that you take a breather, it’s not just a heat-of-the-moment thing. You don’t need to wait until you’re on the verge of a personal insult to step back. Instead, you might want to just defuse the fight, calm yourself down and even walk away for a little while. Putting some distance between the two of you isn’t a permanent solution, but it might help you calm down and get yourself sorted out. It’s a bit of that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing combined with “if you don’t calm down you are sleeping on the couch”.
STEP TWO – Evaluate
Is it worth it? Once you’ve stepped back, it’ll be easier to gain some perspective and decide whether whatever you’re arguing about is even worth it. When you get swept up in the fight, everything seems important—suddenly, it’s not “just” rearranging the furniture, it’s the complete desecration of everything you love and stand for. Something that appeared to be the end of the world might actually be pretty inconsequential when you think about it and that might be the end of the fight. Of course, there’s also a chance you’ll find you were right to fight, but either way, you’re on your way to step three.
STEP THREE – Communicate
This is the part where you either suck it up and say you’re sorry or suck it up and say why you’re not sorry. But the key words here are “suck it up and say” because you can’t expect even your significant other to be able to read your mind. In arguments, we tend to forget that beyond this one point of disagreement, we might actually have a lot of common ground with our opponent. So it’s time to calm down, sit down and talk it out.