So today it’s just me, Taylor, sharing what I’ve started to find common amongst my fellow females.
Some call it resentment, stress, blame, or even, Angry-Wife-Syndrome. I prefer to call it Volcanic Women. (It’s got a nice ring to it, hey?)
We are majestic, awe-inspiring and at times—deadly. (I’m just kidding about the deadly part.) And today on Feature Friday we’re diving into the concept of Volcanic Women, the underlying causes of their anger and some tips to overcome it.
So I don’t know about you, but I get angry. I’ve always gotten angry. It was my “go-to response” in most uncomfortable situations. I’m WAY better at being angry than being hurt. Saying, “I’m pissed” felt so much better than saying, “My feelings are hurt.”
Now I say “was” because I thought it was something I overcame in my late teens, y’know with puberty behind me and all, but ooooh was I mistaken.
Enter: The Husband.
With this addition, I seemed to have reverted back to this immature behaviour, this underdeveloped sense of reasoning and logic of yelling and volcanically erupting to handle these situations. Any time I became triggered by something, bothered by something “stupid” he did or didn’t do—boom—another ash filled, molten lava, eruption.
Now, I’d like to think I had amazing reasons for these eruptions, evidence to back up and justify these actions. ‘Cause c’mon, men do stupid things sometimes. Like, saying “Yes, that does make you look fat…”, or the socks left on the floor (AGAIN), or the worst—the excessive noise to which he chews his food.
But in all seriousness, this is not even remotely justifiable. I didn’t have those reasons I was looking for to justify and validate this anger. And I’m not proud to admit it, but that was (and sometimes still is) my go-to response.
Is that okay? Absolutely not.
As I started confiding this to my female peers I realized, I was not alone. They too, were angry. They yelled at their boyfriends, partners and spouses. Over anything really. (Whew, I’m not a freak of nature!)
So I started to dig deeper.
Why is this happening? Can I change? Am I doomed to be the angry wife forever? (Please, God, no!)
And I want to share with you what I’ve found.
Over mountains of discoveries and therapy sessions later, I want you to know it can change, this isn’t something you (or your spouse) are doomed to forever.
I’ve narrowed it down to 6 reasons of why we women get volcanic and then I want to share with my fellow she-canoes some tips on how to change that.
So here goes, my list of common underlying causes of anger. (Because the anger is never really about the anger, you know what I mean?)
Once you dig away, it’s usually one of these 6 things:
Like I said before, I am so much better at being angry than hurt.
Anger is like my comfy old sweater. The minute pain starts drafting in the window, I just pull that comfy old sweater over my head. Because, you know what I don’t want to do? Stand naked in that pain. And that’s honestly what it feels like. (We’ll get more into that in point number 6.)
The idea of being hurt, physically, emotionally, or mentally, makes me nauseous. I want to vomit at the thought. I go into self-defence mode, and then that comfy sweater turns into a suit of armour.
(We’ve linked a great video of Dr. Brene Brown explaining this phenomenon of blaming, discharging pain and discomfort below).
Because in these cases, that’s exactly what’s happening, pain discharging as anger.
2. Lack of Boundaries
The word “no” seems so simple, but it can be impossible to say.
Another huge reason behind my anger was usually due to being overwhelmed. Unable to set boundaries with what I could take on, accomplish, needed, disliked, wanted, and was expected of me became the leading force to having my plate so full, I wanted to throw it at my husband.
It creates the perfect angry storm when we continuously stuff our plates, or allow them to be stuffed, by all the demands floating around us.
When we say “Sure!” when we really mean, “Fuck No!” or when we say, “That’s okay!” when we really mean, “Are you kidding me?”
When we work all day, come home to work all night, to wake up and repeat.
When we commit to bringing cookies, making 3 course organic meals, walking the dog, taking yoga, cleaning the house, decorating birthday parties, and making it all seem as easy as farting in the wind.
When we bend and bend and give and give, we will be left with nothing.
You know what happens after nothing?
Tears or yelling. (And it’s going to be yelling, we’ve already covered that in number 1.)
3. He’s Safe
As women, there’s this undeniable pressure to be perfect, quiet, demure, modest, and obedient. Do I like that this exists? No, but we all know it’s out there.
Now if you’re anything like me and my husband, he exerts pressure to be none of those things. (Thankfully!) With him, I am completely free to be my wild, curious, unfiltered self. He is my safe haven.
Sounds beautiful, right? Cue the DJ scratch. *eeerrrruuuupppeeeeccchhh*
While this sounds (and is) really wonderful, it lays the perfect shooting range for this temper to fly free. Because, he will forgive me. He will understand me. He won’t judge me, hurt me, or (God forbid) leave me.
He’s created such a safe place that I can explode on him with no repercussions.
(Again, does this make it okay? Abso-fucking-lutely not.)
4. Being Invisible
Pssst…Hey…I’m over here…Hi…EXCUUUSE ME?!
That’s usually how it goes.
It’s so common, as a woman, to feel invisible and powerless. It’s almost expected in certain circumstances. And, if you’re anything like me, that does not sit well with you.
So, one sure-fire way to get attention, be heard, control, shock and awe, is anger.
We see this with toddlers all the time (and unfortunately it’s eerily comparable). Lack of attention, being misunderstood, loosing control, being overlooked, ignored, and bam—tantrum. Or, in our grown up lady-pants, volcanic eruption.
5. Underlying Emotional Issues
This has to be said.
Depression, Anxiety, and other forms of mental health issues often lead to anger. For all the reasons you can imagine, compounded with those listed above.
Lack of coping skills, substance abuse, unhealthy habits, hormonal changes, guilt, grief—you see where we are going here right?
You’re not alone in this, there’s many women that have these underlying issues and if this is potentially you and your circumstances, we’ll have links to help below.
This ties into everything on this list.
When we are feeling vulnerable to pain, being walked over, pre-existing issues, invisibility, and stress—Anger is our way of saying stop, I can’t, I’m scared, I’m hurt. Hear me. Love me. Help me.
Feeling exposed, naked, is not fun and anger is our way of trying to get out of that.
Why? Because (we think) it works. (Am I saying that’s okay? Again, absolutely not!)
So that’s the brief list of the common roots underlying anger, at least in my case and those she-canoes I know.
So let’s get to the good stuff, 6 tips and a bunch of links we’ve found to help over come it.
So corny, over heard, yada-yada. But it works.
When you feel that volcanic eruption building, stop and breathe.
It will bring you to the present, it will help focus your mind, and calm the raging emotions. If anything it will give you that moment of pause to stop you from doing anything you’ll wish you hadn’t later.
Breathing may look different for everyone:
Deep breaths for 4 counts in and hold and out.
Going for a walk
Taking a bath
You get the idea, right? Anything that allows you time to pause, breathe and maybe take the edge off that angry energy.
2. Find The Underlying Reason And Voice It
This is the change agent.
We know that rarely are the rage-filled emotions about rage. We know now some common causes that underly these eruptions. Use that breathing moment to check in with yourself.
Am I hurt? Scared? Feeling vulnerable?
Has something crossed my boundaries? Am I overwhelmed?
What is it I need? Do I feel unheard?
Is this about a deeper emotional or mental health issue?
That moment of discovering what’s actually going on does a lot to diffuse the situation, to ease that bubbling lava, and ultimately create the change needed to stop this behaviour and grow. So with the moment of breath and now knowing the underlying cause, use the next tip, and express it.
3. Discover Phrases to Express Yourself (Without Rage)
This will look different for everyone and let me give you permission now (because I certainly needed it) it doesn’t have to be pretty and perfect.
When I am battling that volcano eruption, it feels like anything could set me back and push me off the edge of exploding. The last thing on my mind is being polite, eloquent and well versed. The phrases I found, that work for me, do not come out polished and beautiful. They’re often uttered in an god-awful, other-worldly voice, but hey, that’s the best I could do at the time, and that’s okay.
Here are some of my go to phrases, but please feel free to put your own spin on them and come up with what works for you.
“I’m having a hard time with ________”
“I know it’s coming out as anger, but I really just feel hurt.”
“I feel exposed and I don’t like it.”
“I’ve got too much on my plate, I’m overwhelmed.”
“Stop, I need a minute.”
“I’m struggling with something deeper and it’s coming out as rage.”
“I don’t like feeling powerless.”
They sound simple, but they are effective and easy to grasp in those moments. And remember, if it comes out sounding like dragon-breath, it’s okay.
4. Set Boundaries
In those moments outside of eruptions, once you’ve determined what are the underlying causes, set boundaries so that you can navigate the situation with a little more ease the next time.
Because girlfriend, let me tell you, there will be a next time and it’s all about practice. (There’s a whole point coming up about that one!)
Practice setting boundaries in and out of the explosions, here’s some examples:
Set lines around what is okay to say and what is not.
Saying “No” when you are at your limit to prevent being overwhelmed.
Asking for help and delegating.
Set the phrase and time frames that work for you to breathe and express yourself.
Determine what your needs are in those challenging moments.
Organize your schedule to prevent rushing — a huge trigger for most of us.
This is basically carving the path you can navigate in order to prevent the eruptions and to walk along productively when they happen. It’s going to be ever changing as you continue to practice, so allow yourself to adapt and change those boundaries.
5. Ask Your Spouse For What You Need (It’s okay to ask for help!)
You’re not alone in this!
It’s okay to ask for help, you’re not a monster, you’re not an evil bitch, you’re human and flawed and working on it.
Your partner is with you because they love you and want the best for you, and they really do want to help. So, let them.
Ask for what you need in those moments, be as specific and precise as you can. If you don’t know what you need, it’s okay to ask for suggestions, too.
If it gets to a place where you and your partner are both floundering, it’s okay to ask for professional help. They’re the experts and will have so many resources and insights for you both. We’ll have links below to some great resources, if this is what you’re looking for.
6. Accept It Will Take Practice
Man, I really don’t like this tip. But it’s the truth.
It would be so nice if it were just a switch that you could flip and all would be well, but it’s not. If you’re anything like me, the battle is a street-fight.
But with practice, consistency, time, support, and willingness—you’ll win most of the time.
The gaps between explosions become larger and larger, the intensity of the blasts will lessen and lessen. Be patient and forgive yourself if you make mistakes and some eruptions slip out, you’re human and you’re working on it.
Accept that it will take time, and allow yourself some breathing room for mistakes. It’s trying something new, and it won’t be perfect right away, or maybe ever, but it will definitely be better.
So there you have it. My she-cano story and what I’ve found helpful and insightful in my practice in allowing my erupting volcano to become more dormant. (And my true self to be expressed and loved.)
If you resonate with this, I just want to remind you again, you’re not alone. You have the capability to change if you want to and you’re human—that’s okay!
Feel free to let your she-cano friends know they’re not alone either and share this with them. As always, leave us a comment if you feel like we missed anything! We love hearing from you.
As promised here’s the links to the good stuff:
Dr. Brene Brown on Blame
Here’s a link to some help in BC if this is what you’re looking for: