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The AngerCoach Show Returns!

We’re back! After a long hiatus, we’ve finally revisited the AngerCoach show and promise to be better than ever! In this episode, we look at the high cost of anger as well as answer the question: “Is anger ever a good thing?” Keep listening – you might be surprised at the answer. Be sure to email us if you have any suggestions, or would like to have us read your story on our next episode.

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.

Is Anger sometimes a GOOD thing?

I recently received an email from one of our readers who asks:

“isn’t anger sometimes a good thing?”
“Doesnt it motivate people to act righteously and to stand up against abuse?”
“Would the American Revolution ever have happened without anger?”

These are excellent questions. In our anger management program we teach that, yes indeed, anger can sometimes be a good thing if it is channeled into socially appropriate actions that benefit the person or world in some way. Used correctly, anger can indeed turn into righteous indignation which can translate to real action that makes a difference.

But, would the American Revolution have taken place had the Leaders just yelled. shouted, threatened, or just plain lost control?  Does abuse stop when victims spend their whole lives in angry resentment with no action?

it seems to us that to use the feeling of anger properly, it must be under your control and part of a rational plan of action to deal with the injustice. Explosive anger used just as a catharsis without this control usually just turns people off and often makes things worse. Ranting by itself may feel good for a short while, but then we have to deal with the “costs” of the rant. These costs often include loss of relationship, workplace tension, loss of love or respect of your children, and loss of your own self-esteem.

So, if you can harness that anger into positive action that is effective and good for the world, by all means do it! But, remember not to get “stuck” in the anger which is of little benefit to anyone.

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Anger Coach reflects on Movie Gran Torino

I recently enjoyed the movie Gran Torino. In it, Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a retired Polish American automobile assembly line worker and a Korean War veteran, lives in a changing Highland Park, Michigan neighborhood which is dominated by immigrants. Early in the movie, he befriends a young Hmong teenage neighbor who is harassed by a local a hispanic gang. Seeking revenge, he confronts one of the gang members with a gun and threatens to kill him and the others if they bother his Hmong neighbor or his family again. Unfortunately, the gang retaliates by raping his neighbor’s sister which leads to further consequences and actions by Clint Eastwood. I won’t tell the rest, so as not to spoil it for those who may not have seen it yet.
What I want to share, however, is that when I was watching the movie, I have to admit that I was cheering for Clint Eastwood’s character. I wanted him to get violent revenge. It somehow felt good to see justice done in the old fashion way.  Then, when my emotions calmed down, the anger coach part of me kicked in and I remembered that I teach my anger students that “forgiveness” is a good thing and an “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” retibution philosophy applied to the world would result in a world in which everybody is blind and toothless.

Did Clint Eastwood’s character do the right thing? Is violent revenge(or otehr kidns of revenge)  justified in some situations? What else could he have done? It occurred to me that his first attempt at revenge resulted in the rape of the girl as an act of revenge by the gang. Maybe that would have happened anyway, but it raises an important question of exactly how should we deal with injustice or bad acts against us or someone we care about.

In these situations, our feelings tell us one thing while our mind tells us something else. We probably are biologically “wired” to want to get revenge as a survival mechansim. But, as human beings, our behavior should be driven by a combination of emotions and reason, not just emotions. Hostility normally begets more hostility in situations such as faced by Walt Kowalski. Neither side sees themselves as in the wrong and sees their behavior as justified because of the actions of the other.

We will continue to discuss these issues in our anger classes as we all struggle with these difficult and perplexing questions. Fortunately, most people that struggle with anger do not have to face situations nearly as violent or dark as that depicted in the movie. Most of our students want revenge, for example, on those that cheated on them, won’ t them them have full custody of the kids, or said something against them at the last family birthday party. Obviously these acts do not justify violence of any kind, but some of our students still feel they should “get even” in some way or fashion. They hold a grudge and simmer. They plot revenge. And they keep themselves upset and angry. Is it worth it? It’s up to you to decide!

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Anger Tool #3: Respond Instead of React

The Anger Coach, with Century Anger Management, had developed a unique and acclaimed model of anger management called the “Eight Tools” model. Tool #3 is “Respond instead of React” meaning that human beings have the unique ability to decide and make choices how to deal with anger triggers in their world. This means we have to be flexible in our approach to anger triggers as well as take responsibility for our own decisions. No one says it better and more succinctly than poet Portia Nelson in a poem called “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters:”

Chapter 1

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost. I am I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2.

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But, it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in. It is a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

Chapter 4.

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

Chapter 5.

I walk down another street.

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New Beginnings – Dedicated to Cjon Damitri Patterson

At the brink of every New Year we make promises to ourselves and to the ones we love to change. Often we’ve made the same promises every year for the last decade and find ourselves repeating the same negative habits, hurting ourselves and the people we care about.

In some circles the number 8 is thought to represent new beginnings and 2008 is touted as the year of new beginnings.

The thought is hopeful but can people really change?

The answer is yes people can change. I can’t afford to think otherwise. Why because there is so much about me that needs improvement.

To tell you the truth anger management has never been a real problem for me. I did not say I’ve never been angry. I fall under the category of angry people who hold their emotions in and it eats them alive from the inside out. Come to think of it, I guess that is a problem but it’s not the biggest problem I face.

A dear friend of mine passed this weekend. We shared a similar struggle.

He was full of life, talented and hopeful for a new beginning. I guess he got it. He got his new beginning.

In a way I envy him. My new beginning will not come so easy. It will take work and discipline. It will take change.

Can people really change? Yes people can change. I can’t afford to think otherwise.

Dedicated to Cjon Damitri Patterson: The composer of the musical theme for Angry in L.A.

Cjon your spirit and music will live on.

Posted with permission by The Anger Coach from the blog of :
Daybreak Counseling Service