You know you need to say something. You know that what they’re doing isn’t right or respectful. But speaking up to an angry person can be intimidating. You don’t know how he/she may react. You don’t want to make things worse. But, you also know you can’t keep going on the same way. Last week, we talked about the important steps of preparation that should be made before you set a boundary with an angry person, including getting a third party to help. Click here if you missed it.
Dealing with an angry person over long periods of time, can end up making you feel down, hopeless and even depressed. That’s why setting boundaries with angry people is absolutely necessary to your emotional health. If you’re tired of feeling bad, or scared, or second best, here are the next five steps on how to Set a Boundary with an Angry Person.
- Step One: Ask for What You Want. Many times, woman married to angry man will dance around their boundary. They hint and poke and laugh nervously, but they don’t ask directly for what they want or need. Their fear of getting barked at has made them timid. This passive asking frustrates the situation further and evokes more hostility from their partners. Be direct and state directly what you want and what you are willing to do to get it.
- Step Two: Push Repeat. An angry person will use any number of tactics to sway you away from your boundary. You may experience pouting, tantrums, the silence treatment, character attack, love bombs, promises, excuses, sob stories, bible lectures, and threats to leave. He may explode or be cruel or get you off track with one of his problems. This is not ok. Be aware of these tactics and expect them. Then repeat your boundary. There is no need to provide more explanation, just the repetition of your boundary is enough.
- Step Three: Walking away in Peace. There is a small chance that he will respect your boundary without much resistance or manipulation. If he is tired of his own anger, and wants a change, then he may be willing to join you in creating a healthier dynamic. However, more times than not, the angry person will not cooperate happily with this boundary. You may need to walk away from the conversation in peace. Remember, you don’t need him to understand or approve of your boundary, you just need him to comply with it.
- Step Four: Follow Through. Honestly, the follow through is harder than all the other steps put together. It takes a lot of emotional effort and ego strength to get to this point. Congratulate yourself. However, the process is not over. More than likely, the angry person will test your resolve and push back to see if you’re bluffing. It’s paramount to really stand your ground here. You may experience even more pouting, tantrums, threats, personal attacks, etc., but it is important to hold firm to your boundary. Giving in now will do more harm to you than had you never made the boundary in the first place. If he does not comply to your boundary, then it is time for increased distance and safety.
- Step Five: Ask for Help You may need additional resources like a counselor, your pastor, an attorney, or law enforcement.
If you are with a person who recognizes the error of taking his anger out on you, then you will see that the more boundaries you set, the more willing he is to respect them. However, if he/she gets more hostile or manipulative, then you know he/she is not interested in respecting you or your boundaries and you will need serious intervention to be emotionally and physically safe.