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Four ways to think like an optimist and improve your your health

Even as a child, James was described by teachers and his parents as a happy optimist. As the story goes, one day his parents decided to play a joke on him and test his attitude by requiring him to spend an afternoon cleaning deserted stables at what had been a local racetrack.

Returning after two hours, James’ parents observed him singing while happily shoveling manure. Astounded, they walked closer, only to hear him saying to himself over and over, “There has to be a pony in here somewhere.”

James did naturally what researchers are increasingly discovering: optimistic thinking skills are a powerful antidote to anger partly because the optimist has better resistance to depression when bad events strike, better performance at work, better physical health and better relationships. Who couldn’t admire and love a person with such a great attitude?
But what if you are not naturally optimistic? How can you become an optimist if you now insist on seeing the glass as half-empty instead if half-full?

The good news is that, according to psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, optimism is a learned mental skill. As a past president of the American Psychological Association, he has plenty of research to back up his theory.
To become an optimist, according to Seligman, you must master the skill of arguing with yourself!

Four ways to argue with yourself

At its core, optimism is a style of interpreting events that occur in your world – it is a your personal theory or explanation of why both good things and bad things happen to you.

While everyone experiences both setbacks and victories in the normal course of life, optimists – in contrast to pessimists – have a very distinct style of explaining things to themselves.

Said another way: It is your belief about what happens to you that determines your reaction, more than the event itself. The knack of disputing your beliefs is a thought-skill, the mastery of which will morph you into the optimistic style of thinking. There are four ways to do this:

  1. Look at the evidence. According to Seligman, the most convincing way of disputing a negative belief is to show it is factually incorrect.
    Most of the time you will have “reality” on your side. Your role is that of a detective as you ask “what is the evidence for my belief?”.
    For example, is it really true that you never succeed in anything? (Very doubtful. Everybody succeeds some of the time). That you are the worse parent you know? ( Can you remember any success you have had as a parent?) That you are an incurable glutton? (Can you sometimes resist food?) That you are incredible selfish? (How many times have you been unselfish?) Using this skill of looking at the evidence, you can defeat pessimism with more accurate perception and recall of what is really true.
  2. Consider alternative causes. Most events in the world have more than one cause. Pessimists latch onto the most insidious; optimists tend more to give themselves a break. For example, a marital breakup usually has many causes which probably contributed to its downfall. You can blame yourself. You can blame your partner. A more optimistic interpretation is that neither partner failed as an individual; it was the relationship (the combination) that failed.
  3. Put events into perspective. If the facts are NOT on your side and you cannot honestly see other causes to a negative event, you will need to look at the implications of your beliefs to become an optimistic thinker. Is the event really as catastrophic as you may be making it in your mind? (hint: few things are). Usually, the implications or long-term effects of your misfortune aren’t as awful or devastating as you may be seeing them.
  4. Is your belief useful? Even though a belief may, in fact, be true, it may not be useful. Some beliefs cause more grief than they are worth. You may tell yourself you are a failure, for instance. This belief will likely cause to you stop trying. Instead, substitute a more useful belief like “Just because I failed once doesn’t make me a failure.” Then, behave accordingly with your new belief.

Five tips to raise the optimistic child for better mental health

I had just completed a session with 17 year old Julie with severe depression and a firm belief that she was a total failure, she would never be able to change anything in her life, and all her shortcomings were her fault.

Where, I asked myself, did such a young person acquire this negative and fatalistic thinking?

The answer soon became apparent when I invited her parents into the session. They began discussing numerous life events and explaining them in ways that their children were learning. The car got dented because you can’t trust anybody these days; Mom yelled at brother because she was in a bad mood; you can’t get ahead in this world unless you know somebody.
As a parent, your own explanatory style is on display and your children are listening intently.

Why would you want your child to be an optimist? Because, according to Dr. Martin Seligman, “pessimism (the opposite of optimism) is an entrenched habit of mind that has sweeping and disastrous consequences: depressed mood, resignation, underachievement, and even unexpectedly poor physical health.”

Children with optimistic thinking skills are better able to interpret failure, have a stronger sense of personal mastery, and are better able to bounce back when things go wrong in their lives.

Because parents are a major contributor to the thinking styles of their children’s developing minds, it is important to follow the following five steps to ensure healthy mental habits in your children.

Five steps for parents

Step 1 – Learn to think optimistically yourself. What children see and hear indirectly from you as you led your life and interact with others will influence them much more than what you “teach” them directly. Model optimism for your child by incorporating optimistic mental skills into you own way of thinking. This is not easy and does not occur over night, but with practice almost everyone can learn to think differently about life’s events – even parents!

Step 2 – Teach you child that there is a connection between how they think and how they feel. You can do this most easily by saying aloud how your own thought about adversity created a negative feeling in you.
For example, if you are driving your child to school and a driver cuts you off, verbalize the link between your thoughts and feelings by saying something like “I wonder why I’m feeling so angry; I guess I was saying to myself, “Now I’m going to be late because the guy in front of me is going so darn slow. If he is going to drive like that he shouldn’t drive during rush hour. How rude.”

Step 3 – Create a game called “thought catching.” This helps your child learn to identify the thoughts that flit across his or her mind at the times they feel worst. These thoughts, although barely perceptible, profoundly affect mood and behavior. For instance, if your child received a poor grade in school, ask “when you got your grade back, what did you say to yourself?”

Step 4 – Teach your child how to evaluate automatic thoughts. This means acknowledging that the things you say to yourself are not necessarily accurate. For instance, after receiving the poor grade your child may be telling himself he is a failure, he is not as smart as other kids, he will never be able to succeed in school, etc. Many of these self-statements may not be accurate, but they are “automatic” in that situation.

Step 5 – Instruct your child on how to generate more accurate explanations (to themselves) when bad things happen and use them to challenge your child’s automatic but inaccurate thoughts. Part of this process involves looking for evidence to the contrary (good grades in the past, success in other life areas, etc).

Another skill to teach your child to help him or her think optimistically is to “de-catastrophize” the situation – that is, to help your child see that the bad event may not be as bad or will not have the adverse consequences imagined. Few things in life are as devastating as we fear, yet we blow them up in our minds until small glitches become mental catastrophes.

Conclusion: Parents can drastically influence the thinking styles of their children by modeling the principals of optimistic thinking, teaching the connection between thoughts and feelings, how to evaluate automatic thoughts, and how to dispute negative beliefs that led to pessimism and depression.

Recommended Resource: “The Optimistic Child” by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, 1995. (ISBN: 0-06-097709-4)

Recognize stress before it turns into anger

After a stressful day as a computer programmer, Jim pulled into his driveway. The children’s toys were scattered on the walkway to the house.
He immediately began noticing slight tension in his muscles and apprehension in his stomach.

Entering his house, his wife ignored him while she talked with her sister on the telephone. His heart started beating a little faster.

Looking around, he noticed disarray; nothing was picked up, the house was a mess. Irritation and frustration started to settle in. Finally, as his feelings grew, he exploded and began yelling at his wife and children.

Stress may trigger anger

Stress is often the trigger that takes us from feeling peaceful to experiencing uncomfortable angry feelings in many common situations such as the one described above.

Stress is most easily defined as series of bodily responses to demands made upon us called stressors. These “demands” or stressors can be negative (such as coping with a driver who cuts in front of you on the freeway) or positive (such as keeping on a tour schedule while on vacation).

Stressors may external to you (like work pressure) or internal (like expectations you have of yourself or feeling guilty about something you did or want to do).

Whether the stressor is external or internal, scientists have discovered that the major systems of the body work together to provide one of the human organism’s most powerful and sophisticated defenses; the stress response which you may know better as “fight-or-flight”.

This response helps you to cope with stressors in your life. To do so, it activates and coordinates the brain, glands, hormones, immune system, heart, blood and lungs.

Avoid Jim’s destructive behavior toward his loved ones. Before your stress response turns into anger or aggression, use these strategies to get it under control:

Read your personal warning lights

Becoming aware of your stress response is the first step to managing it. This means listening to your body, being aware of your negative emotions, and observing your own behavior when under stress.

For instance, notice muscle tension, pounding heart, raising voice, irritation, dry mouth, or erratic movements.

What you see is what you get

For a potential stressor to affect us -stress us out – we have to first perceive it or experience it as a stressor.

Gaining a new perspective on the stressing situation can often drastically change the effect it has on us. Our stress response can indeed be a response (something we can control) instead of a knee-jerk reaction (which is automatic).

Examples: Cut off on the freeway? “It is not personal. That guy has a problem. I will stay calm.” Bullied by a co-worker? “If I react, he wins. Later, I will privately let him know how I feel about what he did. If that doesn’t work, I’ll discuss it with our manager.”

Stress-Guard your life

You can also make many life-style changes to reduce or minimize feeling stressed-out, even if you can’t change some of your actual stressors
For instance, manage your time better, establish priorities, protect yourself from toxic relationships, find a way to manage your money better, or consider changing your job or occupation.

Other stress-guards include those you have probably heard before, but maybe need to do more frequently such as:

  • Getting adequate rest.
  • Eating a healthy diet.
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol intake.
  • Living in a way consistent with your core personal values.
  • Developing social networks of friends and support.

Don’t get angry – use conflict resolution skills

Guest Article by Sherry Gaba

Conflict is difficult for many people. People with codependency often learn to avoid conflict due to fear of abandonment, rejection, and/or criticism. Learning conflict resolution skills makes it easier to handle conflict effectively so you learn not to fear confrontation. Often with the need to people please and receive outside validation, codependents avoid confrontation.

The following are skills you can use to lean into conflict in a healthy way rather then avoid it all together:

  1. Prepare by getting clear about the problem.Clarify your position by writing down talking points as reminders and to keep you focused.
  2. Practice your talking points with a friend or in the mirror.
  3. Use deep breathing to control your anxiety prior to the meeting. Take conscious breaths during the discussion.
  4. Be ready to experience the “newness” that change brings. If you can shift your thinking from a focus on the unknown to recognize that change involves “newness”—new things, people, places, and ideas—with at least some of it bringing excitement and interest, you’ll feel a whole lot better about it.
  5. Be clear about your bottom line and the things you are willing to negotiate. Understand that negotiation is part of the process and expect it.
  6. Look for points of agreement. Find things that you agree on and talk about how to find a win-win solution that benefits everyone.
  7. Do your homework. It helps to have a good idea of what the other person wants to strengthen your position in negotiations.
  8. Use assertive language. “I want. . .” Or “I would like. . .” Ask what the other person wants, then work toward a solution that works for both of you.
  9. Ask for clarification or details about anything you are unclear on.
  10. Take a break. If you feel overwhelmed by the process, take a break. Go to the restroom or get a drink and take some deep breaths.
  11. Give positive feedback. Let the other person know that you see their point of view, or agree on certain key issues.
  12. Table it. If you do not get the minimum you are asking for, suggest that you table the discussion for now and talk about it again later. Don’t give up or give in unless you are certain you have reached a stalemate.

Downloads

Download a FREE Worksheet PDF file called “Areas of Change” that will help you develop the techniques discussed in this article.

Sherry Gaba helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re struggling with co-dependency, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break-up. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com or sign up today for Sherry’s online group coaching program. Buy her books Love Smacked: How to Break the Cycle of Relationship Addiction and Codependency to find Everlasting Love or Infinite Recovery 

Poor Sleep contributes to Anger

Lack of sleep intensifies anger, impairs adaptation to frustrating circumstances

Losing just a couple hours of sleep at night makes you angrier, especially in frustrating situations, according to new Iowa State University research. While the results may seem intuitive, the study is one of the first to provide evidence that sleep loss causes anger.

Other studies have shown a link between sleep and anger, but questions remained about whether sleep loss was to blame or if anger was responsible for disrupted sleep, said Zlatan Krizan, professor of psychology at Iowa State. The research, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, answers those questions and provides new insight on our ability to adjust to irritating conditions when tired.

“Despite typical tendencies to get somewhat used to irritating conditions — an uncomfortable shirt or a barking dog — sleep-restricted individuals actually showed a trend toward increased anger and distress, essentially reversing their ability to adapt to frustrating conditions over time. No one has shown this before,” Krizan said.

Eight things you can do to improve sleep:

  1. Avoid alcohol, large meals, exercise and smoking at least two to three hours before bed.
  2. Turn off from work and technology at least an hour before bed.
  3. Go to bed as soon as you feel tired. If you wait too long, it will be harder to fall asleep.
  4. Avoid watching TV or reading an exciting page-turner in bed.
  5. Go to bed at around the same time each night. Ideally this should be before midnight.
  6. Sleep in a dark, well ventilated room.
  7. Deep sleep is the phase of sleep where you benefit most. It happens in the first third of your sleep. Avoid environments where you could be disturbed during this phase.
  8. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night

Read the original article from the Iowa State University website here.

The Anger-Damage effect on your heart: Guest blog from Dr Alan Levy

THE ANGER-DAMAGE EFFECT ON YOUR HEART

Guest Article by By Alan Levy, Ph.D.

How does anger do its damage and contribute to heart trouble? In this brief article, I explain the physiological and psychological mechanisms that are problematic ways of handling frustration and anger. I also present 8 helpful hints to better manage negative emotions and protect your physical and mental health.

How does Anger Affect our Bodies?

First, here’s how the physiological mechanism of anger works, according to the nation’s top heart-brain research centers, such as the Cleveland Clinic: Emotions like anger and hostility stimulate the “fight or flight” response of your sympathetic nervous system, releasing the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.

These chemicals significantly speed your heart rate and your respiration. Your blood pressure goes up, and your body is hit with a burst of fight-flight energy. That’s often what triggers someone to fly into a rage, to
begin yelling and even throwing things.

This heightened state of physiological activation is designed to mobilize you for real emergencies, but can become habitual. Chronically high levels of stress hormones cause extra wear on your cardiovascular system.

Even the walls of your arteries can be damaged by the frequent anger response, because of the extra load of glucose and fat globules secreted into the blood stream.

The Good News

The good news is that anger and hostility as a risk factor can be changed for the better, just as blood pressure or cholesterol can be modified. Of course, stress can’t be measured as easily as cholesterol, but you can learn to take responsibility for your emotional responses and modify them for the better. Here are a few tips to interrupt storms of explosive anger or relieve yourself of self-damaging, imploded anger.

  1. Recognize, as early as possible, when you’re beginning to feel angry.
  2. Pause, before saying something or doing something impulsively. The time-worn advice– “count to ten”– is still wise.
  3. Put the situation into perspective. Ask yourself if this issue will matter 5 years from now.
  4. Say to yourself: “If this is as big a deal tomorrow as it is now, I’ll deal with it then, when I’ve cooled off a bit.
  5. Realize that, even though someone else’s behavior might have triggered your upset, blaming them for it won’t help you take responsibility for handling it well enough to regain your emotional balance.
  6. Understand that acting angry is not the way to show that you really care about something or someone.
  7. You may understand the nature of your problems with anger, but if you can’t put your insight into practice, it’s time to consult with an experienced therapist. Even a brief investment in counseling can
    produce remarkable results.
  8. Finally, remember to take this to heart: a change of heart comes from a change of mind about how you handle frustrating situations.

To sum it up, stressful reactions such as anger, anxiety, guilt, or mood instability can add up to increased risk for all kinds of medical problems, including heart trouble. Taking care of your emotional health will pay off with big dividends in maintaining your physical health and well-being.

Dr Alan Levy is an seasoned psychologist who practices in Costa Mesa, California. His website: alanlevyphd.com

Downloads

Download a FREE Worksheet PDF file called “Areas of Change” that will help you develop the techniques discussed in this article.

Mindfulness and Anger Management

Mindfulness and Anger Management- Guest Article

We all have moments when things slow down and we are suddenly very present for life. We often have this ‘tuned in’ experience when we are in nature, or it it may happen when we are highly focused on some activity, or sometimes it occurs when we are simply relaxed and available for whatever is going on around us.

The word ‘mindfulness’ evokes images of spirituality and eastern religion, but surprisingly mindfulness is just the ordinary human capacity to be fully present. It is mindfulness that allows you to be here long enough to read these words. You can be mindful of the wind, the taste of your evening meal, a conversation with your partner, or the various sensations in your body.

When we are spinning in thoughts of the past and future we are not at all present, and our mindfulness has faded. When we check out from the present moment in this way, we spin off into a mental world and we lose our center. We lose touch with our body and emotions, and we become susceptible to stress and anxiety, and various conflicted emotions, such as anger. Fortunately mindfulness is natural to human beings, and as such we can train it and strengthen it.

This is where mindfulness meditation comes in. Since it was first introduced to the western world in the 1960’s mindfulness meditation has been incorporated into a range of modern day applications. For example mindfulness is utilized in corporate environments, in various forms of psychotherapy, athletic training, medical care, educational systems, stress reduction, and yes, anger management. Whole departments at major universities such as MIT are now dedicated to the study of mindfulness and its application to a broad spectrum of contemporary issues.

It is safe to say that mindfulness is a 2500 year old anger management methodology. Extensive research shows that mindfulness is helpful with anger management issues in a variety of ways. Studies show that mindfulness decreases rumination associated with anger, it increases cognitive flexibility, boosts emotional well being, and improves overall satisfaction with life. Modern science is increasingly showing what the ancients have known for millennia, that mindfulness really works.

A Mindfulness Anger Management Exercise: Working with Uncomfortable Feelings

A common issue found in individuals with anger management problems is a difficulty dealing with uncomfortable feelings. We become hyper sensitive to life’s loose ends, we are triggered by the slightest inconvenience, and we have a low threshold for anything edgy or uncomfortable. The following mindfulness anger management exercise can help.

-Choose a day and set your intention to notice whenever you feel uncomfortable.

-Throughout your day, every time you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in some way, simply notice what you do with your body. Do you start fidgeting and bite your fingernails, does your chest tighten up, or do you clench your jaw, or maybe you hold your breath?

-Take a notebook with you and write down what you notice. The idea isn’t to try and change anything, just simply notice what you do and write it in your notebook.

This ‘paying attention’ is a form of mindfulness, and it will shine the light of awareness on how you avoid uncomfortable feelings. That light itself is enough, change will come naturally from your simply being present, so don’t get in the way by trying to change anything. Just notice, write it down, and let it be. That’s it.

Once you’ve tried this for one day then you can apply it any time, and gradually you’ll become more and more familiar with your patterns of avoidance.

Craig Mollins is long time student and teacher of mindfulness, and specializes in a mindfulness approach anger management. You can learn more at his website, mindfulnessangermanagement.com

AngerCoach Show – Episode #9 – Managing Expectations

This months episode discusses the benefits of managing your expectations. Learn what your expectations are, where they come from and understand how the world around us influences our expectations. When we understand these things, then we can better adjust what our expectations are when it comes to our lives, our relationships, our families, our possessions and our jobs. If we find ourselves frustrated by these things then it’s possible that we have formed unrealistic expectations about these goals. By adjusting our expectations to more realistic levels, we can avoid the anger that comes from being let down, and we will find ourselves living happier lives as a result.

Please note: This anger program and these anger tips are not meant to substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or advice. If you have intense, serious or chronic anger problems, or you have to deal with someone else who does, you should immediately consult a mental health or medical professional for help.

Gratitude Skill Important For Anger Control

Learning to respond instead of react to frustration and anger triggers is anger tool #3  in our “tool kit” of anger control strategies. An important skill to use this tool is the skill of being grateful for things in your world and in your life. It is almost impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time. But, it is very challenging to be grateful when you look around and see only negatives in your life. You want to ask yourself: “what should I be grateful for exactly?”

Being able to answer that question for yourself is a major step toward anger control and increased happiness in your life. Following are some resources to help you do just that. We begin with a Budhist quote:

“A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it were real, so he escapes the suffering.”

– Buddha

We continue with a concept promoted by David Block, creator of the “Gratitude Balls” to be squeezed whenever you feel depressed, angry, or discouraged. We hand out these balls to participants of our local (Southern California) anger management classes. David recently organized  The First Gratitude Tour of San Diego: Here is his you tube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7NKhHGIlzM

Finally, we turn to the master,  Deepak Chopra, who teaches you how to meditate in order to get in touch with gratitude which he believes is the quickest way to “get in touch with your soul.” His video can be seen also on you tube at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIXIwdhOmSM

Research backs up the claim that being grateful leads to increased happiness! Try it and see if it works for you!

Dr Tony
www.angercoach.com
www.angercoachonline.com




Federal Employees need Anger Management Too Sometimes

I recently received a referral from an employee for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS employees often face very stressful situations, depending on their job function and can find learning skills in anger management to be extremely helpful. Homeland security is one of our nations top priorities and therefore can be an equation for stress for those that are in high demand positions. The employee who we are currently seeing for executive coaching will be taught a series of tools from our highly acclaimed client workbook “Anger Management in the Twenty-first Century”. We will focus on improving empathy and emotional intelligence, stress management, assertive communication and managing expectations. Anger management skills improve relationships and sharpen ones ability to have more positive interactions.

Posted with permission from
Ari Novick, Ph.D.
AJ Novick Group – Anger Management

Quick Anger Tip 19 – Raise your mood before dealing with an anger trigger

It is a known psychological fact that the level of your mood determines the perception you have of your world. In a high mood you see the best fat burner for women world one way: In a low mood, you may see the exact same thing quite differently.

To better manage your anger, try to shift your mood before dealing with the anger or stress trigger like they say it on the venus factor diet or problem that is before you.

Typical ways to elevate your mood might include getting more rest, eating properly to adjust your blood sugar level, exercise, listening to mood elevating music, meditating, connecting with friends, or having a spiritual or religious experience.

The important thing to remember is to take time to elevate your mood before instantaneously reacting to an anger trigger at a time when your mood may be down.

Outwardly Expressed Anger Affects
Some Women’s Heart Arteries

In The Science Daily:

“While previous studies have shown that anger and hostility, in and of themselves, can increase risk of heart disease in men, little of the research has included women.

Results of a new study, conducted exclusively with female subjects, suggest that anger and hostility alone are not predictive for coronary artery disease in women, but women who outwardly express anger may be at increased risk if they also have any of several other risk factors: age (risk increases as women get older), history of diabetes and history of unhealthy levels of fats (lipids) in the blood”

Spousal Anger May Shorten Life

In a recent edition of “Stress Scoop”, research shows that happily married couples are healthier and live longer, possibly because they have less stress.

“…a recent study showed that even if spouses usually get along well, the stress caused by a brief argument can slow healing of a surgical wound by as much as a day.”

“If such a short spat in a lab can have such effects, one can only wonder what the response would be to a full-fledged fight at home lasting hours or days.”

Holiday Stress Leads to Anger

Learning to deal with stress is one of the eight tools that is needed for anger control.

Learning to deal with holiday stress is even more challenging because of the time crunch around the holidays and the need to deal with relatives who might not always be exactly at the top of your Christmas list.

Here are some tips to deal with holiday stress that should help you get through the season more comfortably:

1.Catch your stress early. Notice physical signs of stress such as muscle tension, voice getting louder, or behavior becoming more disorganized.

2. Make Necessary Life Changes to reduce your stress. Shop earlier. Get more family support. Take time off from work. Request more civil behavior from family members.

3. View Stressors Differently.For a stressor to cause stress in our lives, it has to be perceived as a stressor. Work on how you see things and try to see them in a different light. (Hint: this really works well with obnoxious family members: try seeing them as “limited” than than “irritating.”)

4.Stress-guard your life. Eat right. Exercise. Sleep well. Take care of yourself emotionally. Get your needs met. Have a good time.If needed use supplier of fine bed linens to get better sleep because sleep is really important.

Aggressive Response Triggers More Road Rage

According to new research published by the Response Insurance Company:

Fully one-half of drivers who are subjected to aggressive driving behavior on the road respond with aggression of their own, thus risking a more serious confrontation.

when a driver gets the finger, is cut off or tailgated, 50% of the victims respond with horn honking, yelling, cutting-off, and obscene gestures of their own.

“Road rage is a two-way street,” noted Ray Palermo, director of public relations for Response Insurance. “It takes two people to fight. So, if you are subjected to aggressive driving, often the best way to ensure it does not get any worse is to just ignore it.” You can read more about this here www.firststepdetox.com

Download a free podcast on how to deal with road rage and aggressive driving by clicking here.

Anger Tip-Spend Time With Buddies

Let’s face it, your family can’t satisfy all your needs all the time.

So, it’s smart anger management to indulge in a boys night out or a girls night out. You relax and unwind in different ways when you socialize with members of the same sex. You can talk more openly than you do in mixed company. You can loosen up, laugh and be less formal.

There are numerous excuses for getting together: sports, card games, book discussions, eating out…or for no other reason than to enjoy each other’s company.

Of course, you shouldn’t abuse this privilege and you must make sure that your partner doesn’t feel cheated in the process.

When you return home, you will often feel more fulfilled, more relaxed and more into sharing your new experiences with your spouse or family.

Anger Tip- Don’t take sides

You may have noticed that your friends – or relatives – often try to enlist you on their side in conflicts they have with other people. Getting caught in the middle can be VERY stressful for you.

Stay neutral, if you can, in office politics, family squabbles and interpersonal bickering. It’ll save you a world of unnecessary aggravation and trouble.

Experienced therapists will remind you that when someone is trying to “recruit” you, they are often only telling you one side of the story – their side. It is often a “setup” to gain your support and sympathy.

The art of remaining empathetic while not taking sides is just that – a true art and skill that must be developed with practice. Listen, sympathize, encourage possible ways to resolve the conflict or promote communication, but avoid taking sides.

The AngerCoach Show – Episode 2 Aggressive Driving & Road Rage

This month’s episode deals with aggressive driving and road rage. Aggressive driving not only endangers people’s lives, but puts immense stress on our relationships with others. We talk about practical ways individuals can reduce stress and calm down while on the road, as well as ways of mitigating road related disagreements.

We host Dr. Leon James from the University of Hawaii. Dr. James is an expert in the phsycology of driving behavior and now serves on the Govenor’s Impaired Driving Task Force. You can contact Dr. James online at www.drdriving.org.

Please note: This anger program and these anger tips are not meant to substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or advice. If you have intense, serious or chronic anger problems, or you have to deal with someone else who does, you should immediately consult a mental health or medical professional for help.

Anger can be NEW or OLD

One of our students found herself “going bananas” after a guest innocently left a gate open after leaving her house. Why the extreme reaction, we wondered.

Turns out that she had a “history” with open gates. At age 6, her brother accidentally left a gate open which caused her favorite dog to escape and unfotunately be killed.

Often, current anger triggers can bring forth “old anger” that is stored in emotional centers in our brain.

Whenever you “over-react” to some mild anger trigger in your life, try remembering what “old” issue may be attached to it.

Often, this understanding will help you develop thought skills to deal with current anger and stresses in your life – so that you don’t continue to over-react to it.

Memories Depend on Focus

We teach our anger management students that often anger is generated by arguments with someone reagrding what happened in the past. As you probably know, two people (like a parent and child, or, two siblings) may have the same experience but remember it in quite different ways.

Why is this? Often we suspect that the other person is wrong, is lying, or is distorting the truth. And, of course, if we believe these things, we generate anger.

To manage your anger, try to understand that there is at least one other explanation. It is literally a matter of focus. As one of our recent students from IEC reviews vape devices explained, our memories depend on our perceptions of the situation. Like a still photo, your “perception” depends on where you aim your camera. Imagine an elephant. You may take a picture of his trunk so you remember the trunk. Soemone else may take a picture of his rough skin- which is the main thing he or she may remember.

So, five years later when you are both discussing your experience of the elephant, you remember the trunk and he/she remembers the rough skin. Neither of you sees the whole picture, but part of it.. a snap-shot of it- segements of the total.

We tend to focus on those parts of the total situtaion that are important to us, and ignore or minimize the rest. An example: a sixteen year old boy asks his father for a car. To him, it is his whole life. The father is dismssive. To the father, it may be an amusing request that has no relevance to his life. Years later, the boy remembers the rebuke vividly; the father doesn’t even rememvber it at all.

Same “reality.” Different snapshots of it. Different memories of what “really” happened.

Road Rage to Work Sets Negative Tone For Day

A new survey puiblished by CareerBuilder.com confirms what we have suspected for a long time: most commuters admit to experiencing road rage while traveling to and from work.

This may include yelling, horn-honking, and hand gestures which give your estimation of the IQ of the other driver!

The survey, based on more than 2200 workers from June 6th-June 16th, 2006, showed that 59% of workers said they had road rage during their commute.

This frustration and anger obviously sets a negative tone for the work day and causes 20% of workers to say that they would take a job with a pay cut in exchange for a shorter distance between their home and their workplace.

Rather than arriving at your workplace upset and stessed, try the following tactics to reduce your angry feelings:

1. Give yourself more commute time. Leaving 15 minutes earlier can save a lot of stress.

2. Ignore bad drivers on the road. You may become upset because of your expectations of the drivers – try to accept that some people are just bad, rude, or inconsiderate drivers.

3. Don’t take bad driving by others personally. It has nothing to do with you as a person.

4. Try to shift your attention elsewhere. Listen to music or to talk radio.