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About Mind/Body Consultant Services & Protocols

Protocols: Anger Management

Part One: Understanding Anger

  1. Like all parts of the human experience anger can be understood when viewed in context. Anger is a normal part of life.

  2. Acting out our anger (e.g. yelling, hitting, throwing objects), or hurting others is not a healthy, or necessary expression of anger. When we act out our anger we; Damage other's trust for us; Create a burden of shame that we then carry; Pass on our problems to others; Destroy intimacy.

  3. View you anger as your problem. Expect self-satisfaction and not praise from others for addressing your anger issues.

  4. Before starting to develop your anger management program (see part three below): Write out both a list of the ways that unhealthy expression of anger has hurt you and those you care for; Next write out your "Anger Self-Care Goals".

Part Two: Self-Assessment (Keep this with you!)

  1. Identify the types of anger that you are most likely to experience:

    1. Irritation (stress distractions, etc.)
    2. Frustration (blocked goals, unmet needs, etc.)
    3. Anger (boundary problems/violations, etc.)
    4. Rage (fear, pain, control, unfinished business)

  2. It is essential to develop an awareness of your personal anger cycle. To do this:

    1. Develop lists of your triggers and your anger symptoms.
    2. Plot your anger symptoms on a curve.

  3. View anger as the "lid" covering other feelings. Make a list of the feelings that frequently are beneath your anger.

  4. Ask yourself what you are attempting to solve when you blow up. (Remember that in reality acting out our anger makes us feel shameful about ourselves and creates many more problems than it solves.)

  5. Identify reasons why you may let your anger build up until you explode (e.g. not feeling you have the "right" to get your needs met).

  6. Anger-Arousing Perceptions:

    1. Injustice ("It's not fair")
    2. Shattered expectations
    3. Blaming ("Your fault")
    4. "Not treating me right"
    5. Shattered belief in a just world
    6. "She's condescending to me"
    7. "I deserve better than this"
    8. "Those people are breaking the rules"

  7. Anger-Intensifying Habits

    1. Yelling
    2. Sulking and pouting
    3. Plotting revenge
    4. Hitting, other violence
    5. Competitive games
    6. Accusations ("You never...")
    7. Arguing while angry

Part Three: Healing (Keep this with you!)

  1. Set a boundary for yourself that you will not "dump" your anger, or act it out.

  2. Talk with your angry self in another chair. Have a discussion about what it wants right now.

  3. It is healthy to communicate with others your irritation, frustration, anger, or rage before it builds up using I statements (see handout).

  4. Designate a three "buddies" who you can call when you feel your anger starting to escalate. Remember, destructive expressions of anger usually do not happen in public.

  5. Make an inventory of what you have to lose if you do not change your habits of anger expression.

  6. Answer this question: "If ___________________ was different in my life I would not need to get so angry."

  7. Take a time out for prayer when you feel an anger outburst coming on.

  8. When we are exhausted and overwhelmed our anger is most likely to get out of hand. Practice H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). Take preventative care of your needs.

  9. Discuss with your spouse, or significant other the Cycle of Violence (handout), learned helplessness, abuse of power.

  10. Force yourself to make amends every time you blow up at someone and keep doing it whenever it happens.

  11. If you feel an anger outburst building up, stop and write out what you are angry about in a private place. Do a first draft just to get the feelings vented. Then re-write it as if you were writing for the person you most respect in the world.

  12. Special Instructions When Children Are Involved:
    1. Look for their motives before getting frustrated
    2. Don't take a child's behavior personally
    3. Use time outs
    4. Set healthy boundaries, limits and rules and enforce them
    5. Separate the child from their behavior
    6. Use the C.A.L.M. (Calm, Ask, Listen, Mend) method
    7. Try a little humor
    8. Hold weekly family meetings
    9. Block out times when touchy issues will not be discussed
    10. Be assertive. Require children to take care of themselves so they don't get overly frustrated.

Fig. 1: Anger Management Decision Tree.

  1. Deflect Anger

    1. Thought-stopping
    2. Distraction
    3. Meditation
    4. Avoid Overstimulation

  2. Improve Relationships

    1. Pets
    2. Listening
    3. Trusting
    4. Community Service
    5. Empathy
    6. Tolerance
    7. Forgiveness
    8. Have a confidant

  3. Adopt Positive Attitudes

    1. Humor
    2. Religion
    3. Pretend today is your last

  4. Anger-Reducing Perceptions
    1. "Bad things happen"
    2. Empathy for the other person
    3. "I can't fight every battle"
    4. "She couldn't help it"
    5. Humor and silliness

  5. Cooling-Off Habits

    1. Count to 10 (or to....)
    2. Sleep on it
    3. Exercise (noncompetitive)
    4. Nip argument in bud
    5. Mediation, relaxation
    6. Distraction (baking bread, reading, movies)

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