The style of anger management I practice is solution focused, it calls for a person to be brutally honest with himself about the circumstances that influence his life experiences and the realization that we as human beings are at the mercy of each other. Anger management does not work when people buy into the illusion of what “should” or what “should not” happen to them.
The idea that your life should unfold in a particular manner, is not only an illusion but leads to adopting irrational beliefs. People have become so married to their irrational beliefs that like addicts, they become very upset when these irrational beliefs are challenged, even though these beliefs have done nothing to help them solve any of the problems life deals them on daily basis.
Recognizing Your Vulnerability is a Good Thing.
The primary reason people are more likely to respond to disrespect with anger, than admit their feelings have been hurt, is because we have been conditioned to believe that the latter communicates weakness. We want to feel strong and in control, this is understandably an inherent human trait, however feelings of vulnerability are your minds’ way of informing you that you are in an non supportive situation. It’s that simple. Now what you choose to do with that information is dependent of the skills you have learned and practiced. Responding with anger does not undo the disrespect and it does not help to address the conflict, especially if the antagonist is willing to take things further.
Your Beliefs Either Help or Hinder You
From taking deep and voluminous breaths to practicing verbal judo, none of the traditional anger management techniques are going to work unless you let go of irrational beliefs that do nothing but stroke your ego. It’s all about what you believe, what you believe either prepares you or hinders you from responding appropriately to anger provoking situations. Getting angry is a waste of time, especially if you don’t have the right tools to recognize and manage your more real and vulnerable emotions. Looking back at the responses I received from a recent post about anger being useless, I realize now that I should have used the iceberg illustration, which shows anger as being the tip of the iceberg with more real negative feelings making up for the bulk of the iceberg.
So here are three healthier beliefs that can go a long way in helping you better manage your experiences with anger.
You are not Entitled to be Liked.
We are social animals, and being recognized and accepted in our respected communities are important to us. Advertisers recognize this, that’s why most ad campaigns portray a message that most people prefer to use a particular product over another. Another tactic is to take a popular and well liked person and have that person endorse the product. The message is simple, if you are not using this product, you are out of the loop. People fall for this reverse psychological tactic often, this is why people are usually focused on people who don’t like them, even though there are more people who are willing to accept them for who they are.
If you come to believe that you are not entitled to be liked by anyone, you will find yourself gravitating with gratitude and humility towards those you readily recognize, like and respect you.
We are All at the Mercy of Each Other.
Human beings are capable of inflicting the greatest of harm unto others, likewise they are also capable of performing the greatest of good towards their fellow human beings. This paradoxically situation is usually played out at a mass shootings, where a shooter shows up and guns down innocent people, and ordinary every day people resort to heroic acts towards saving the life of a shooting victim. This belief that we are all at the mercy of each other helps to put into perspective just how silly the idea of being “better than” is. When you go through life convincing yourself that you are better than a certain group of people for what ever reason, you have premeditated yourself towards experiencing significant resentment, when someone that you consider yourself better than decides to take you to task, and possibly shows you up.
As with the previous belief, recognizing that we are all at the mercy of each other, gravitates you with a sense of gratitude towards people who regard you with dignity and respect.
The Golden Rule
Treat and regard others, the way you would like others to treat and regard you. Likewise, do not teat and regard others in a manner you would not like to be treated and regarded by others. No one is perfect, so even when you encounter someone who has made a poor decision in his or her attitude towards you, you should treat that person with the same level of dignity you would like others to treat you when you have made an error or a poor decision.
Believing in the golden rule keeps you grounded and focused on addressing your real issues instead of being obsessed with a grudge, feelings of hate or a desire for retaliation.
It is important to note that none of these beliefs encourage anyone to become docile, passive or compliant towards their rights being violated. They actually encourage people to exercise more assertiveness in their daily interactions with others, with a healthy dose of compassion.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and owner of Road 2 Resolutions PLLC, a professional counseling and life coaching private practice.