Time and time again I hear stories of people accepting the unacceptable — —rage in particular. They accept what no one should accept because they’re too scared not to. They’re afraid that if they stand up to the behavior they’ll lose their relationship, anger their partner or make things worse.
So they silently take it and secretly wish for better.
• Dan sits in my office visibly shaken with anxiety. He loves his wife, yet can’t stand how she treats him. She calls him a wimp, a loser and a sad excuse for a man. When he attempts to set a limit, her rage intensifies and the words really start to fly. Dan responds by backing down, apologizing and trying to calm her down.
• Sarah immediately shuts down when her partner Jim becomes intense. He calls her stupid, a nim-wit and constantly dismisses her. She knows she shouldn’t accept this treatment, but she doesn’t want things to get worse. She just wishes he would see how poorly he treats her. She feels bad for him because she knows that’s how his father treated him. And she feels bad for her children, who are also afraid of their father.
Rage is killing marriages, families and businesses across the country. It does not discriminate. Rage attacks all socioeconomic levels, genders and types of business. Parents are losing it with their kids, bosses are going off on their employees and husbands and wives are verbally abusing each other with little to no remorse.
In response, the children, employees and partners are cringing, ducking and silencing.
If we want to take the rage out of our lives, we need to stop ducking. We need to stand up for our children, stand up for ourselves and stop accepting the unacceptable. We need to stand up to our bosses, our lovers, our friends and, if we are adults, our parents. If our partners are raging at or in front of our children, we need to be their voice, protecting them when they are unable to protect themselves. Our fear does not justify our failure to protect them or ourselves.
When we silently accept poor treatment, we insure the continuation of that poor treatment.
Not accepting poor treatment begins with a conversation when things are calm. Start with the basics –verbal abuse — and clean that up first. Sit down with the offender and let them know you don’t like how they’re treating you. Here’s a sample script (Do not do this if you are in a physically abusive relationship. In that case call a Domestic Violence Hotline for help):
• “Recently, I’ve been more and more aware of how you’ve been speaking to me and it hasn’t felt good. You’ve been harsh, calling me names and yelling. For a long time, I’ve said nothing. I want you to know that it’s no longer okay for you to speak to me like that—in anger or otherwise. If you do speak to me like this, I will tell you to stop and if you don’t, I will end the conversation and leave the room if I have to. If you follow me and continue to yell, I will leave the house. In general, if you choose to continue to treat me as you have been, I want you to know that our relationship is in trouble. I love you, but can no longer live the way we have been.
You then need to follow through! Below are sample statements you can make when someone is being verbally abusive:
• “Stop yelling at me or I will end this conversation.”
• “I need you to lower your tone if you want me to stay in this conversation.”
• “It’s not okay to call me names. Stop the name calling now.”
• “Mr. Smith, I’m sorry I did not do the report the way you wanted and I will correct the mistakes. In the future, if you’re upset about my work, I would appreciate your speaking to me in a calmer tone. It is not okay for people to yell at me.
When someone is verbally hurtful towards you, be clear that it’s not okay, set a clear limit in a relational way and get yourself safe. Verbal abuse is not an option. Know that and live it.
CHALLENGE: If rage is happening in your life and you are silently accepting it, stop the ducking. Set limits with your words and, more importantly, your actions. Do not accept verbal abuse from anyone…and obviously don’t give it either.