I think I need to take some courses in anger management. Not because I get angry all the time, in fact it is quite the opposite. I have such a difficult time with confrontation and expressing my feelings that sometimes I feel like a stewing cauldron of emotion on the brink of boiling over. I will never snap on someone when the cauldron boils over, I will just let the water boil over, only burning me until I cool off. I realize how unhealthy this is, as it affects all of my relationships at one point or another.
Another thing I have learned about myself in the past year is the degree to which I am an avoider in stressful situations. Rather than confronting a problem head-on, I worry and stew about the problem until it either passes or I am in too deep to give a damn anymore. This usually leads to depression, making it that much harder to confront whatever issue is at hand. I am realizing how closely this avoidance issue goes hand-in-hand with the anger thing. Cognitively I know that most situations can be solved efficiently and cleanly by talking directly to the person involved in the conflict. In fact, in most situations, the other person involved will probably be relieved and the situation will end with both parties more understanding and appreciative of each other. The problem occurs when the conflict is ignored, allowing room for anger to settle in.
So. How to avoid conflict:
1). When you have a problem, try to confront the issue early on when both parties are level-headed.
2). Don't assume the person you have a conflict with is on the same page as you and knows the issue is a problem.
3). Use 'I feel' statements. Nothing is worse than being confronted by someone who is attacking you. Rather than saying "I hate when you do ...." say something more like "I feel this way when you...."
4). Don't be afraid of feeling angry. I had a mentor tell me once that if emotions are on a scale from 1 to 10 with depression=1 and joy= 10, anger is in the middle and makes a person feel more alive than depression or listlessness. The important thing to remember (especially in my case) is to confront the anger before it turns into depression.
5). Just ask. If you want the other person in a relationship to do something, and the request is reasonable, ask. This will prevent so many problems from rising in the first place.
I am not good at following my own advice, which is why I am writing a post to remind myself how to avoid avoidance and to experience healthy levels of anger. If any of you have thoughts or suggestions for dealing with anger or avoidance in conflicts or relationships, let me know and I will add them to my list.