Last week I discussed the porcupine persona and explained why some people prefer to keep others at a distance. Most are aware of these traits but either choose not to change or don’t know how to be different. People can and do change, but they first have to be aware of what needs to change and commit to the process. Typically, anger is a secondary emotion, not a primary one. Angry people often have underlying fear, insecurity, hurt, and/or sadness that they camouflage with irritability and belligerence. Confronting and resolving the buried emotional pain and forgiving others/self can be a good start to healing. Learning new skills like assertive communication, relaxation, and reframing distorted thinking can also help with the change process. If you are living with a porcupine, remember that their anger is often related to fear and insecurity so respond accordingly. They may benefit from professional help and hopefully will consider that option. As I’ve said before, you can’t change your partner, but you can change yourself. Providing support, encouragement, compassion, and understanding will work better than telling them how to change. Saying something like,” it’s difficult for me to be close to you when your angry “or “I feel more connected to you when you share emotions other than anger” may result in a meaningful conversation (I’m talking about nonviolent anger). Reacting to anger with anger never works and only perpetuates the problems. Taking a timeout can also be helpful. The best way to diffuse an angry person is to acknowledge and validate their feelings: not agree but accept. Ultimately, the porcupine-like person will need to learn new skills, understand the origin of the anger, and commit to change. Remember that change is difficult, but inaction makes problems worse.
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