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Anger Skills


ANGER SKILLS


1) Anger is always valid. It's a natural response to threat. To deny or stuff anger is to ignore a built in function meant to keep me safe and happy. Instead I can use it to create the determination I'll need to solve the problem posed by this threat. The proper use of anger is assertiveness.
2) Anger is self-reinforcing and self-escalating. It's not something I can work through. Left to itself, it becomes runaway rage. "If I don't fight back I'll die." Anger is only stopped by effort of will. Venting gives short-term relief but in the longer run increases the rage.
3) Anger is usually a response to threat. If I'm being attacked, the proper thing to do is use my warrior skills and defend myself. But it's not proper to use attack as a self defense tool. If I attack someone I love, even when they attack me, the relationship will die. And in addition I will have to feel the pain of remorse later on.
4) To express old stored anger, I write letters and let the anger go. I don't send the letters.
5) I never show anger to anyone. It destroys relationships. People leave me. And in addition, I tend to become impulsive, defensive, aggressive and prone to interpret things in a negative way when I'm angry. I'm also likely to use name calling, blaming, contempt, mind reading, and magnification of my pain and problems. There's no win in showing anger.
6) Sometimes anger comes up so fast there isn't time for a single conscious thought, so there isn't time for effort of will or self defense. All I know that can stop me then from attacking someone I Iove is the deep conviction that hurting others is a lot more painful in the long run than letting them hurt me. "Turning the other cheek" actually makes sense in intimate relationships, in the short run. In the long run, I'll start being able to use self defense skills.
7) When anger comes up, I don't act on impulse, and I don't do nothing. When I start to get angry, I excuse myself. I say, "I'm sorry, I'm starting to get angry, and so need to take a time out." And I say when I'll check in, and I leave immediately. "I'll check back with you in an hour." I don't get in the last word as I walk away.
8) Of course I've arranged all this stuff about time outs ahead of time, so I'm not surprising people.
9) Once I'm gone, I use relaxation response to get back to being able to think clearly while I'm angry. I take a deep even breaths, tense my body and relax it. I use relaxing images or self statements to soothe myself. Or I drop into trance for a bit. This is where self-soothing skills are important.
10) I take as much time as I need. If I'm still angry at check in time, I set another time to check in. I keep doing that till I'm clear.
11) I get in touch with my feelings and thoughts while I'm away. (See "Self Introspection Skills.")
12) I figure out what made me angry and find a way to look at it that doesn't make me angry. I identify what I want, and what I want to change. The commonest provocations for individuals are: frustrations, disappointments, irritations, abuse, unfairness and humiliation. The commonest for couples are: money, indifference to feelings, sex, adultery, irresponsibility and drinking.
"What am I angry about?" "How does this make me angry?" "What are my choices?" "What do I want?"
13) I come back, and we continue talking. I tell the person how I felt and why, and how I feel now. I tell them what I want. I ask how they felt then and now, and I ask what they want. We negotiate a win-win solution to our difficulty.
14) If I'm in a situation where I can't go away physically, then I do something analagous. If I'm on a long car trip, for example, I might take a time out and sing for awhile, get the person I'm arguing with to sing with me.
15) If they block communication with laughter or denial, I repeat my point.
16) If they block communication by blaming me, I point it out. ("You're blaming me.").
17) If they block communication with guilt tripping, I point out what they're doing. ("You're guilt tripping me.")
18) If they block communication with threats, I defuse by ignoring the content and addressing the feeling. ("You're feeling angry, right?")
19) If they block communication with why questions, I point out that we're getting off the point. ("I think we're getting off the point here. I'd like to keep our focus.")

From: Dr. Weisinger's Anger Work-out Book, by Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, Ph.D., 1985, Quill, NY.

For a version of Anger Skills you can download, click here:

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