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If You Are Angry, Then Go to Bed

by Eshal Rose 12 days ago in love

Here’s why the classic ‘Don’t let the sun rise on an argument’ is poor advice.

If You Are Angry, Then Go to Bed
Photo by Andrik Langfield on Unsplash

A few months ago, on a dreary Monday, I woke up feeling extra blah. There’s no other term for that feeling. Those days when everything is a little meh. By afternoon, I had enough of adulting and was ready to slip into my bed.

By evening, something my partner did set me off. It wasn’t a big deal, but I was ready to launch the day’s frustration on him.

A couple of angry texts later, he said he would sleep.

‘You get some sleep too.’ he said. ‘You’ll feel better once you wake up.’

Wait a minute. We weren’t done arguing! Why was he going to sleep when I was still fuming?

‘Fine! If he doesn’t want to sort it out now, I will also go to sleep.’ I thought, ready to get my argument points in order for tomorrow when the conversation would continue.

‘Hey, I’m sorry. Are you still mad at me?’ came his text the next morning.

The anger from last night had disappeared. While lying in bed, with angry thoughts flowing through my head, I had realized he had done nothing wrong. I was taking out my frustration on him. I needed an outlet, and I chose him.

‘Hey, listen, I’m sorry about last night. I wasn’t mad at you. Just frustrated because of work.’

‘You wanna talk about it?’

And just like that, last night’s argument was closed. A good night’s sleep was all it took.

‘Do not go to bed angry.’

Among the classic, never sought, rubbish dating advice, this one is pretty high up on the list. You may have heard this from elders or someone close to you, or like me read it on the internet.

I mean, yes, stay up and sort through your problems by all means. This is brilliant advice if you don’t want to sleep. Or you make your best decisions under exhaustion.

I am my most emotional and least rational self at night. My eureka moments at night turn to plain idiocy when daylight strikes. If this is the state of my mind when tired, then why would conflict resolution be any different?

I am a person who reacts in an instant when triggered. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I will cut you down with the sharpness of my words.

We all have both good and bad thoughts in our heads. But we don’t say it all out loud because we know some things are more damaging than others. In an intimate relationship, you know exactly what to say to hurt the other. That doesn’t mean you use that information in a fight because once said, you cannot take it back. You keep it to yourself because you know how much it will undermine the relationship.

Here’s why late-night arguments are the worst: mounting frustration plus increased exhaustion will lead to one or both of you uttering some truly damaging words.

Sometimes, the only solution is to pass out and start again.

Reacting v/s Responding

While these two words are often used interchangeably, there is a world of difference.

Reacting is quick to happen. You get triggered — you react. It is driven by beliefs and trauma of the unconscious mind. When something happens, you behave based on the moment without taking the long-term effects of your actions into consideration.

I am a full-blown reactor. When I am pissed off, my mind reacts, wanting to hurt the other person with my words.

Throw a bottle at your partner? — Reaction.

Say mean things intending to hurt? — Reaction.

Almost always, anything I did in reaction, I have regretted immediately (except the bottle throw). It serves no purpose other than to rile the other person into reacting as well. On some level, it is a defense mechanism — hurt the other before you get hurt.

A response is more slow, based on information from both the unconscious and conscious mind. Responding happens when you are emotionally and psychologically regulated and feeling safe. This is an ideal state for relationship dialogue.

This happens when you take some time to explore your feelings rather than react immediately. This is what happened when I went to bed angry.

Giving some time, either by going to bed or something else, gives you some time to calm down. This will ensure you do not engage in shooting verbal bullets at each other.

There is no deadline for arguments. You don’t have to feel pressured to conclude a fight before the sun rises.

Rather than refusing to go to sleep angry, it is more important to reinforce the fact that both of you are on the same team. And most of the time, you notice that whatever set you off wasn’t even worth fighting over.

Going to bed angry and reassessing the entire argument with fresh eyes in the morning showed me there was nothing to quarrel about. The late-night exhaustion, combined with the day’s frustration, made it seem like going nuclear was a superb idea. I was projecting my emotions onto him.

The next time someone tells you ‘Don’t let the sun rise on an argument’ ask them to get some sleep.

Waiting until you are both in better headspaces to resolve conflict is better than letting your emotional reactions guide you. Keep conflict resolution for the day and nighttime for more irrational behaviors like a sexy card game.

love

Eshal Rose

Writer of thoughts.

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