Anger Management: Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh tongue stirs up anger”.

–Proverbs 15:1

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How do you respond when you’re angry? What mentality overcomes you—the “turn the other cheek” philosophy or the “eye for an eye” mentality?

In situations where we experience anger, our reaction to the situation can often times be the deciding factor that either fans the flames or diffuses a situation.

When I worked in the inpatient psychiatric hospital setting, I taught a behavioral management course to incoming staff. Amongst many techniques, the technique that deescalated a situation almost every time was remaining calm in response to a heated situation. Remembering to keep your voice low in response to the angry person, body language relaxed, and eye contact continuous but not overbearing, were the key responses in bringing a person’s anger down to a reasonable and communicative level.

It is in our biological make-up to mirror the actions of another human being (i.e. mirror neurons in action!), especially when we like that other person. So by remaining calm and lowering our voices, it has the ability to cause the person that you may be in opposition with to instinctively lower their voice, and in turn, calm them down.

While you and the other person may not have a positive relationship, the key here is that one person’s reaction to the other has the ability to completely calm the other person down or oppositely, incite them. Next time you are in a heated situation, I encourage you to try this.

When we lash out at another person in response to their anger, it only adds the proverbial fuel to the fire. As in the Proverbs verse above, our response to a situation is very powerful. How we choose to conduct ourselves has great bearing on almost any situation that we are in.

Consider this scenario. Your child is misbehaving. They’ve torn the house apart and are not listening to you when you’re telling them to take a bath. You have two choices here. One, you can scream at them until the cows come home which will most likely result in tears and a spanking—and you losing your cool. Or you can take a deep breath, approach them calmly, offering choices and speaking quietly.

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A child’s response to the situation will become directly influenced by how you respond to them. While the first option I mentioned may be effective for the short term, it will most likely help your child develop a maladaptive set of behaviors and they will learn that “screaming gets stuff done”. The second option, although more time-consuming and requiring more patience, will inadvertently teach your child how to handle a tough situation. See the difference?

Second example. Your partner has just really angered you. They forgot to pick up milk and laundry detergent on the way home, are now totally engrossed in that “stupid video game” they like, and their dishes from breakfast are still sitting on the counter.

Once again, you have two choices. The first choice is to give into that disproportionate rage you may feel as a result of working all day, not getting enough sleep the night before, and feeling brain fried-lashing out at your partner and screaming “You can’t do anything right!! What a loser! You are so lazy!”. Or you can calmly make your way to where your partner is, sit down to ask them to clean up after themselves, and or ask them to go with you to the store to get the items that they forgot, turning the anger into a proactive response where you actually get to spend time with your partner reconnecting.

couple reconnecting

I’ve seen the first reaction play out time and time again with the couples I work with in therapy and I will tell you that after a time, the angry partner ends up causing the other partner to shut down. When the screaming starts, the other partner either leaves or slowly begins to detach from the relationship—losing the desire to make their angry partner happy.

Remember: You have no control over what the other person’s response will be to your calmness. But by you taking the responsibility of staying in control of your emotions and reacting calmly and assertively to a situation, it will diffuse your own anger and allow you to become more approachable in the long haul. Not to mention, your blood pressure will stay at a healthy level and after continuing to practice peaceful communication, it will become second nature to who you are!

Developing and cultivating a calm response to situations takes time, energy, and practice. For many people, it is not an intrinsic response. Perhaps you grew up in a household where you watched your parents yell, fight, and slam doors to prove a point. Perhaps over the years, the only way you felt heard was to yell. Either way, when we continually exhibit a negative set of behaviors, they will become engrained pieces of our personalities—humans are patterned creatures with a propensity to gravitate towards the familiar.

Being the best version of ourselves and making healthy choices in responding to anger calmly can be very difficult! Especially if you feel that your newer healthy responses are not as effective as your previous angry self.

Anger has the ability to corrode even the healthiest of relationships. Disproportionate anger especially. Taking out our own personal stress on the people that we are closest to and not giving them a pass for those simple shortcomings (forgetting to buy groceries, leaving the bed unmade, forgetting to take the trash out) are the quickest ways to alienate your partner or children.

The next time that you can feel the rage start to bubble up, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” Seeking to understand yourself and what is causing you to react in a certain way is a powerful key in behavior change. I encourage people to use the Alcoholics Anonymous acronym HALT for a quick assessment on what’s going on. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and or Tired? If you answer yes to any of those questions, chances are you are not in a good place to begin with.

Attempt to alleviate the HALT issues that are occurring and then tackle your grievances—calmly.

Food for thought: if you have “lost your cool” today, remember that you are human and tomorrow is another opportunity to practice peaceful communication and anger management.

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“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” –Proverbs 12:18

Encouraging you to practice calmness and peace in your interactions today and everyday,

Rachel Ann

The answer is always no…unless you ask: Ask what you want from life, NOW!

Have there ever been times in your life where you thought, “Darn! Why didn’t I ask about that?!” and potentially missed out on a great opportunity? Chances are, you will answer yes to that question. Many opportunities in life and love are missed because people simply just don’t ask the questions they need to!

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I had never heard the powerful phrase “The answer is always no unless you ask” before. It was only after talking to the wisest individual that I know, my father, that he made that comment in reference to something we were discussing.

That very short, yet extremely powerful phrase, has stuck with me now for years and I think at this point I have completely internalized that concept—attempting to live my life with that mindset.

What is it about for human beings that asking for what we want out of life makes us uncomfortable?! I say ‘human beings’ very generally because the majority of clients, friends, and colleagues that I have come into contact with struggle with being able to directly ask for what they want.

 

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You may be making eye contact, but are you asking for what you want?

Whether it’s asking out the girl of your dreams or asking if you can move into the vacant corner office at work, people struggle with advocating for themselves. I asked the question about what makes it difficult to ask for what we want and I believe that across the board the answer would be: a fear of rejection.

Although advocating for yourself is very powerful, the fear of rejection for many trumps the powerfulness of being your own best representative. So how do you make it through life asking for what you want while also dealing with the possibility of the answer actually being “no”?

When asking for what you want:

1. Be prepared with logical data. Say you’re starting a cupcake business and what you’re wanting to ask is as simple as trying to price your cupcakes—essentially asking the public to purchase your product. Do a market analysis of the other bakeries in the area to assess what the average price of baked goods is. Are the ingredients you use unique to your store? Have you received specialized culinary training and currently utilize a technique no one else does? If you decide to price your cupcakes higher than the average in your area, be prepared to back up your reasons why.

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2. Don’t take it personally if someone asks you why you are asking for what you’re asking for. Have that logical data in mind at all times, that’s why I made it number one on my list.

Recently I was selling a 16 by 20 inch piece of art that I painted and a customer asked me how I got to the sale price number that I did. I was able to break it down piece by piece, remaining calm and transparent, and outline the cost of materials, labor, and a small commission I add on. Her response was “I never had any clue as to how artists priced their work. I thought they just came up with a number!” And guess what? She bought the painting.

You cannot take a lot of things personally when people ask you how and why you are running your business the way that you are. Unless they are personally attacking you, business is business. If someone is paying you for a service, they deserve to be told the how and why of what they’re paying for.

3. Use emotions sparingly. Pick and choose who you decide to show your emotions to when attempting to ask what you want out of life. You’re not talking to your therapist (unless you are!) so remain professional and cool-headed at all times. Be assertive but definitely not aggressive.

These very tactics could be applied when having a conversation with your spouse. Learn to clearly communicate your wants and desires from the relationship in a way that elicits open communication and does not turn into a rage session where one or both parties loses their cool.

4. Just ask for what you want. Do you have a question on your mind? Do you have expectations and want to see if the other person is on the same page? Be tactfully direct as I like to call it and just ask your question. So you’re looking for an office for your mental health practice but you notice there is not enough space for your groups to be held? Ask the owner if you can utilize the conference room twice a week! Try to make the situation work for everyone, but especially in your favor. Never ever assume that someone else knows what you want or what you are thinking.

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So what happens if the answer is no?

1. You have the choice to move on. I strongly believe in working very hard to get what you want, but everything that happens in life happens for a reason.

So you decide to ask Kara out? Finally. After working up your nerve for 2 months of being friends. And she says no. Guess what?! It’s okay. You can’t convince another person to be romantically interested in you so consider this a favor. You can still be friends but you can also walk away knowing that you asked what you wanted, are free from that weird romantic tension that happens when you’re “just friends”, and can continue to look for The One that wants you back! As they should!

2. In business, sometimes you have to cut ties and make it happen on your own terms. Don’t like the way the accounting firm you work for treats the employees or pays you? If you’ve been in the biz long enough, have the know-how on running an accounting firm, then who’s to say that you can’t put yourself out to the universe (with careful planning) and start your own firm? I don’t mean to trivialize this concept, starting a business takes a lot of work. But it CAN be done.

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3. Focus on becoming a better communicator. Not that you were unable to clearly communicate your needs, but effectively communicating should be a constant goal to strive for. Being an excellent communicator will do nothing but serve you well. I have never ever heard someone be criticized for being a great communicator. Think about it. Focus on the skills that you need to have in order to excel and be able to get what you want from life.

4. Learn to walk away from a situation knowing that you accomplished something. You asked for what you wanted! Realize that you were able to powerfully advocate for something that you wanted. Maybe the powers that be did not want you to have whatever it is that you were asking for, so instead of viewing this as the ultimate rejection, realize that maybe your Higher Power was looking out for you.

5. Reframe every rejection as a learning experience. Learn from what happened. How did it make you feel? How did you deal with things not happening the way you wanted them to? What is in your immediate control that will be able to help you achieve what you want in your future? Stay in the here and now and seek resolution within yourself. Remaining self aware on how the experience is affecting you is instrumental in recovery.

 

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Find peace and learn from every situation you encounter. Typically with time, you will be able to gain a clearer understanding of why something happened…

Tying it all together…

People are not mind readers, an old adage that remains ever-presently true. Unless we ask for what we want out of life, the answer will always be no. If you are okay with missing out on adventures and prime opportunities by remaining silent, then be my guest—a lot of times this does happen to be the safer route. But if you have noticed a pattern of missing out or feeling like there is more out there, maybe it’s time to start verbally articulating what you want from others and life!

We can’t assume that everyone has our best interests at heart or knows what we want.  As much as I strive to remain the eternal optimist, time and time again, life has shown me that other folks will take advantage of niceness…and silence. Learn to advocate for yourself. If you’re not making the choices and asking for what you want in life, then who is?

Being the best version of yourself will take you out of your comfort zone, yet being uncomfortable is sometimes the necessary ingredient in helping us grow. I challenge you to think of one aspect of your life that you want something to be different. Mull on it for a few days, coming up with your game plan of logical data and reasoning and then…GASP!….ask for it! 😉

See what happens..

Empowering you to ask for what you want and deserve out of life today and everyday,

Rachel Ann