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Quick Tip 25 – Be Less Critical

Too much criticism in a relationship is one of the predictors of marital divorce. Too much criticism also disrupts numerous other relationships such as child-parent, neighbor-neighbor, and employer-employee.

It is OK to complain or even to criticize constructively and nicely, but mean-spirited criticism meant to degrade, express hostility, or control others is destructive to almost any relationship. Remember, it is tough to love a porcupine.

Quick Anger Tip 16 – Notify your face if NOT angry

Body language often reveals feelings or emotions we are having that we want to conceal or that we don’t even realize we are having. Our face has hundreds of muscles that combine to reveal what is going on emotionally with us. Others see these facial expressions and often respond to them, even if our words are communicating a different message.

Our facial expression of anger gives us away. One anger management participant shared this amusing anecdote: “I was angry over what a  speaker had said at a conference, but didn’t want to admit this to myself as the speaker was someone I admired. As I was walking down a corridor thinking about this, a colleague was approaching me from the opposite direction. He asked, “How did you like the speaker?” I replied “Just fine.” He then looked at me and said: “Well, would you mind notifying your face?”

The lesson learned by our student was obvious. Be aware of what your body language, particularly your facial expressions, is communicating to others. Ask yourself what you probably look like, as seen from the viewpoint of other people. Remember, people are going to respond to you as they see you, not necessarily as you see yourself. The message you are sending is always a combination of what you say and how you are saying it with your body language.

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Quick Anger Tip 4 – Change Your Self-Talk. Lessons from San Diego

In many ways, what you think is what you feel! To be less angry, challenge “automatic thinking” and replace with realistic self-talk.

Case in point: Recently I had occasion to be in San Diego for a business meeting at a hotel on Mission Bay. Driving from Orange County, I missed my exit and wound up in downtown San Diego. Unfortunately, in trying to get out of downtown San Diego, I felt like poor Charlie in the famous song by The Kingston Trio called MTA with the lyics:

Did he ever return,
No he never returned
And his fate is still unlearn’d
He may ride forever
‘neath the streets of Boston
He’s the man who never returned.

I felt my frustration increasing as every attempt I made to get back on the freeway resulted in construction detours, one-way streets, being behind huge trucks, and 85 year-old tourists driving 5 miles an hour.

In addition, I was now hopelessly late for my meeting.

My first “automatic thoughts” were something along the lines of

“What will they think of me being late?”

“What a stupid jerk to miss your exit.”

“Why are all these slow drivers pulling in front of me?”

” I can’t believe my luck today.”

Then, I decided to think my ratinally and started telling myself things like:

“Calm down. it doesn’t matter.”

“Everybody makes mistakes.”

“Things don’t always have to go my way.”

“These slow drivers have nothing to do with you.”

Changing self-talk this way can do wonders for your anxiety level. It really worked with me. I called my meeting and told them I would be a little late – and then rationally and calmly thread myself around San Diego until I came across the exit freedway I needed.