The first time I went to read The Dance of Anger, I put it down after a couple chapters because I felt myself getting kinda angry. Sitting there having flashback memories and stuff. No thanks. But by the end of the night I was back reading it again. I recognized by then that I was just feeling triggered (I ended up feeling that way the whole way through). But oh well cuz I needed to read this book.
In it, Harriet Lerner identifies two group styles that could incite serious anger–couples and triangles. Two people in a toxic relationship, for example, both keep unhealthy cycles alive together. Both people participate as pursuer/distancer and underfunctioner/ overfunctioner. The pattern between them could not go on if either one weren’t participating in the established routine. So if you are feeling angry (likely the pursuer/overfunctioner), then you need to break the pattern. Part of that is accepting that they will react to the change and so will you.
The triangles happen when you’re in a relationship like the one above (whether that’s a romantic couple, parent/child, two employees, etc.), and one of you turns to a third party (an affair, the other parent, another person at the job, etc.) for emotional relief. Venting with that person will make them feel fake-aligned with someone instead of simply addressing the actual issue with the actual person, even if it takes a few tries. Here, you should obviously avoid creating triangles or whatever, but you should also not engage in other people trying to do it to you.
The first step in either case is to observe.
– Rachel Wagner 2020