The Anger Mastery Cycle Explained

This is a detailed explanation of the Anger Mastery Cycle.  If you just want a quick overview, click here for the “Cliff Notes” version.

In my Amazon bestselling book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool, I published a chart titled The Anger Mastery Cycle (AMC) which visually lays out the process by which anger is initially experienced and adaptively mastered.

You can download a PDF of the Anger Mastery Cycle by going to the “Pages” section on the right hand side of this page and clicking on The Anger Mastery Cycle PDF.

The Anger Mastery Cycle (AMC).

The AMC can be  broken down into three parts:

I: Subconscious Reaction.

II: Conscious Assessment.

III: Choosing a Response

I: Subconscious Reaction.

The first part  of the AMC involves the “built-in” process of scanning your surroundings and reacting to what you perceive.  This process happens automatically and continuously without you having to initiate or think about it.

Because this initial reaction happens both quickly and “subconsciously” as we would want it to if we were facing an actual life-endangering threat, it is experienced as beyond our control. Problems arise when people overgeneralize the experience and incorrectly  assume that anger controls them.

Yes, the initial emotional reaction is beyond our control.

And, no, anger does not control us as the most important aspects of the AMC are definitely within our control.  Indeed, the ability to strategically deploy our anger to improve our lives and our relationships is the essence of the AMC.

All humans are hardwired to continuously scan their surroundings for any perceived threat.  This unconscious process helped Mr. and Mrs. Caveman survive in a world which was populated by “threats” including animals and other humans that would kill them.  Most primitive emotions were, and are, primitive threat detectors the purpose of which was to both alert us to and prepare us to deal with a threat before it could kill us.

Early humans evolved 6 primary emotions which we experience today just as our cave dwelling ancestors did.  In other words, while humans have continued to evolve, as reflected in parts 2 and 3 of the AMC, the primary emotions, per se, have not.

These emotions are mad, sad, fear, disgust, surprise and glad.  The function of all of these emotions is to facilitate our engagement with our surroundings. Each primary emotion, working through the Amygdala in the brain, reacts to a different environmental stimulus and elicits an physical correlate in our bodies.  This is the initial emotional reaction which, if you are to become effective in mastering your emotions, you will need to learn to recognize.

It is also the “message” of the emotion.

I have discussed the message of all of the primary emotions in other posts.

The message of anger is that your initial perception of the threat is that you are more powerful than it is and that you can eliminate it if you throw enough force at it.  This is your initial thought about the threat.

Anger physically prepares you for war.

Your muscles tighten and your vision narrows and focuses on the threat.  This is the fight part of the fight, flight, or freeze reaction you have probably heard about.

As soon as you become aware of your physical reactions to the perceived threat, you are ready to enter the second part of the AMC.

II: Conscious Assessment.

Now that you’ve become aware of the threat that you have subconsciously perceived and you are “prepared” to engage with the threat, emotional mastery calls for you to consciously assess the threat to determine whether or not a threat actually exists.

As an example of how this process works, think about your smoke detector.

You are sitting at your kitchen table and the smoke detector blares.  It constantly scans your house and is alerting you to a possible threat.

Do you jump up and call the fire department? Of course not. No, you assess the situation and notice that the toast is burning and you pop it out of the toaster.

The blaring of the smoke detector is equivalent to the unconscious reaction of your anger and your conscious decision about the nature of the threat is what the second part of the AMC is all about.

Following your awareness of a physical emotional reaction, you begin to clarify the emotion you are experiencing by giving it a label.  If you are tuned into your body, you know what the initial reaction indicative of anger feels like and you can now apply the label of anger as in “I’m angry.”

Once you have labelled, or acknowledged, your emotion as anger, the next step is Anger Management.

The term “anger management” is generically used to describe any treatment for issues involving anger.

The concern I have with the term “anger management” is that it perpetuates the misconception that all that is needed to effectively deal with anger, as an emotion, is to control, or manage, it.

Two points are important here…

The first is that one of the biggest myths about anger is that it is a dangerous emotion that causes people to do inappropriate things and must be tightly controlled or it will take over. This widely believed conceptualization of anger is not correct, misrepresents anger, and misleads people whose involvement with anger is problematic.

Anger is just a tool.

Which is the second point I want to make.

You don’t control your cell phone, the tv remote, or a sewing machine.  You learn to master these tools in order to get the most out of them.  It is the same with anger, as a tool.

You need to learn to master it in order to get it to work for you.

That being said, anger mastery does begin with anger management (or control).

As I noted above, the function of anger, as a tool, is to both alert you and prepare you to deal with a perceived threat.

When we lived in caves, this unconscious process worked flawlessly, reliably and consistently because all threats were survival based and would kill us if not eliminated.  War was what was needed to insure our survival. The only assessments that were required were how many of us were needed and what weapons would we use.

While the emotion of anger has not changed, the environment in which you live, and get angry, has changed significantly!

Indeed, most of the threats you face are psychological and do not require you to go to war.

So, in order for you to get the most out of your anger as a threat detector and engage the thinking part of your brain, you need to lower the initial arousal of your primitive anger cycle. If your involvement/arousal level is too high, it will be difficult to think clearly and objectively.

Managing your anger by lowering your arousal level is what you need to do.

In the AMC, the process represented by S.T.O.P. enables you to do this.

S stands for stopping the unconscious anger process by creating both a physical and a psychological safe place.

T involves taking a step back physically and taking a deep breath.

The step back is physical.

The deep breath both relaxes you a bit and shifts  your focus. This is the psychological space. Your goal is to associate a deep breath with the initial experience of anger.  You are still angry but less aroused.

This shift in focus gives you the space to both observe what is actually going on and practice emotional intelligence which involves engaging the thinking part of your brain.

The process of anger mastery involves assessing the nature of the threat so you can decide what actions are needed to effectively deal with the threat.

In the world you live in, your anger, as a tool, alerts you to the possibility  of a threat and gives you the energy to deal with a threat, if it exists.

But, for you, it is necessary to determine whether there is a genuine threat or something else (other in the AMC) is going on.

As you can see in the AMC, there are three possibilities that could explain one’s anger when no real threat exists.

  • There is no actual threat and you have misunderstood or misinterpreted the situation you are facing.
  • You are using your anger as a secondary emotion to cover over other feelings such as shame, hurt or anxiety.  Anger is a powerful energizing emotion while these other feelings may sap your energy or leave you feeling somewhat helpless.
  • You are using your anger as an instrumental emotion to manipulate others into doing what you want because they are intimidated by your anger.

Once you have assessed the nature of the threat, you enter the third part of the AMC which involves choosing a response.

III: Choose a Response

There are two basic possibilities here.

The threat is genuine or it isn’t.

If the threat is genuine, you stay with your original thoughts about the threat, you remain angry and you use the energy of your anger to execute whatever is needed to eliminate the threat.

If there is no threat, you need to change your thoughts about the situation you are facing and how you are responding to it.  You have many options here but it boils down to doing nothing or choosing a more effective method of resolving whatever is going on.

Summary

To summarize, the AMC begins with anger functioning as it has always done as a primitive threat detector and motivator. The emotion alerts you to a possible threat  by eliciting an unconscious physical response.

The AMC then progresses through anger management, or S.T.O.P., which lowers the initial unconscious reaction just enough to allow you to engage in anger mastery which involves assessing the nature of the threat and choosing an effective response which either matches and  dispatches a genuine threat or moves beyond the emotion of anger which isn’t really appropriate.

 

 

If you misuse anger as a primary motivator, there are better alternatives.

Some people use their anger to motivate them to take action.

If you are in a situation where someone or something is theatening you, then using the power of your anger is very appropriate.

In fact, this is reason that you have your anger.

Let me explain.

There are five basic emotions that all human beings and some nonhuman species have.

The five basic emotions are mad (anger), sad, glad (happy), fear, and disgust.

Without going into a lot of detail (as I have talked about the basis of emotions in other posts on this blog), each emotion communicates to us how we see our environment and give us the opportunity to react, or respond, to our environment.

NOTE: If you have not done so already, I encourage you to click on the Index Tab above and access the PDF which lists all of my posts by category, title and date.  You can then access any post you want in the Archives.

Anger, as an emotion, communicates to us that we perceive a “threat” that we believe we can eliminate if we throw enough power at it. When angry, adrenaline flows through our body and motivates us to take action against the threat. This is the power that you feel when angry.

Anger prepares you to go to war.  In other words, you are energized and ready to attack the perceived threat and eliminate it.

The challenge in using anger as a primary motivator is that you may overreact and do something inappropriate.

The issue here is two-fold..

  1. What if you have misperceived the nature of the the threat and your attack is inappropriate?
  2. What if the “threat” is a  person (like a boss) who has more power than you and your “attack” would end up “hurting” you?

Issue number 1 involves anyone who uses anger as a “shield” (or secondary emotion) to protect them from other feelings such as inadequacy, shame, anxiety, hurt, and so forth.

The most conspicuous example of this is when a man abuses his wife and later attempts to blame his anger for his actions.

The issue here is  there the perceived threat is psychological. The reaction implies that the threat is survival based, which it is not. In other words, there is an ego threat and emotions, other than anger need to be addressed.

Issue number 2 involves an interaction where someone who has more power or status takes advantage of you because they believe they are immune to anything you might choose to do.

This could be a boss or a supervisor.

It could involve a situation where a male superior takes advantage of a  female subordinate.  There are numerous examples in the news highlighting this situation.

But, it could also involve a superior taking advantage of a subordinate (same gender) by undercutting them  or stealing their work without giving the necessary credit.

In this case, a direct “attack” may not be possible.

You can, however, still use the energy anger of your anger as a motivator.  You just have to develop and implement an indirect “attack”.

But, what if you misuse your anger as a motivator and “manufacture” some sort of threat so you can use the anger energy.  Let’s say that you get angry at a project so you can complete it.

Well, there may be a better way.

Barbara Fredrickson looks at “positive” emotions.

While I do not believe that emotions should be labeled as “positive” or “negative” for reasons I’ve written about elsewhere, I will talk about positive emotions here for the sake of discussion.

Fredrickson writes that the purpose of positive emotions is to keep us engaged or motivated with our environment.

The emotion of glad, or happy, motivates us to become involved in whatever we find “pleasurable”.

I suggest that you use the emotion of “glad” to motivate you to engage yourself in tasks at work or in relationships which will help you achieve your goals or improve your relationships.

To be more specific, think of how achieving a specific task, improving a relationship, reaching your goals, or becoming a better person will be advantageous to you and experience “pleasure” at the gains you will experience.

When you do this, you experience the motivation you are looking for without having to worry about overreacting. In other words, you can still “attack” the situation with adaptive energy and feel good about what you’re doing.

This is what we all do when we are preparing to go on vacation and we zip through projects, clear our desk, and clean our e-mail boxes before leaving.

If you are skeptical about finding tasks at work “pleasurable”, then you can access a different emotion. While Fredrickson doesn’t discuss it, other writers do. The emotion is “pride”. This is a self-conscious emotion that can become maladaptive if it becomes narcissistic. If used as a motivator to complete a task that is “important” to you and reflects your “sense of competence”, self-worth, and desire to “do put your best foot forward”, pride will function as a “positive” emotion and give you the energy/motivation you seek.

This is adaptively and appropriately using your emotions as tools. It is matching the emotion to the situation.

4 Part Series on Anger. Part 4: 4 Secret Tips for Unlocking Anger and Deploying it Strategically

In my last three posts…

I noted that anger was just a tool that could be strategically deployed and that anger did not control you, make you angry, or cause you to act in any particular way.

I discussed different manifestations and several faces of anger…

In this post, I discuss 4 tips regarding how you can unlock the power of your anger.  I call them secret tips because they are not obvious and tend not to be widely recognized or emphasized.

When utilized, however, these tips will both legitimize your anger and guide you to using your anger as a strategic tool to improve your life and your relationships.

The four secret tips:

#1 Practice “safety” first.    (create both psychological and physical space)

This tip is part of the anger mastery cycle and is absolutely critical to learn.

The goal is to create a habit that focuses your attention on creating safety for you and others  as soon as you become aware that you are angry.

This tip also sets you up for the other 3.

Two points are important here:

  • The first is that it will take practice to link the action of creating safety to the awareness that you are angry.
  • The second point is that the “safety” you are creating is both for you and for  the other person (or people) you are angry at.

Let’s unpack these points to make this tip more accessible.

When I use the word “link”, I am referring to the creation of a habit.

A “habit” is a sequence of behaviors that becomes automatic so that, when the sequence is triggered, one action follows the other without requiring a whole lot of thought.

As an example.. When I had hair, I would get in the shower and go through my hair care routine (shampoo, rinse, conditioner, rinse).  After doing it so many times, the hair care routine became an automatic sequence of behaviors. In other words, a habit.

Now, the evolutionary value of a habit is that you can actually multitask without losing any effectiveness.  Once a habit was formed, I would execute the sequence of behaviors while thinking about something else.  When I exited the shower, I often couldn’t remember (without some effort) whether I had used the conditioner or not.  I had, in fact, applied the conditioner but it was “automatically” done without much thought by the habit I had created.

Habits can work for us if the behavior we are automating is advantageous.  If, however, the behavior is destructive, the habit will still automate it but it won’t be good for us.

So, the habit I am suggesting you create for anger will increase your ability to practice safety first and involves this routine:

As soon as you  become aware (by knowing how your body signals to you that you are getting angry), you immediately take a deep breath and take a physical step backwards.

The breath creates psychological safety in that it lowers your arousal level and gives you the time you need to assess the situation. The “safety” here is the gap that you create between the initial angry reaction and the response you will make to the situation.

The physical step backward creates a physical safe zone both for you by separating you from the other person and for them by separating them from you.

With practice (and, like with any habit, you will have to practice it in order to make it automatic), the routine becomes:

  • unconsciously perceive a threat
  • experience anger physically in your body
  • create safety by taking a deep breath and stepping back from the situation

The logic behind thinking safety first is this…

The idea of safety is already a concept that is familiar to everyone.

When you link safety to anger, you are acknowledging that anger is a strong emotion that prepares you for war.  But, you want to plan for war from a position of safety so that you don’t make the wrong decision that could negatively impact you and the person you go to war with.

Keep in mind that creating safely first does not eliminate any of your options regarding the situation and does not invalidate your anger in any way (which is the next secret).

#2 Validate, do not  engage, your anger.

Validation means to accept that this is your anger and that it might be important.  By validating and accepting your anger, you are acknowledging it as a possible source of useful information.  This means that you do not fight your anger, try to deny your anger, or resist your anger in any way.

Validating your anger keeps all of your options on the table.

When you engage your anger rather than validate it, you give in to it.

This means that on some level you are assuming that it is legitimate anger and accurately reflects what is actually going on.  Engagement acts as-if  the threat is real and that it is what it appears to be.

Let’s look at the logical options here..

1.The threat is real.

If the threat is real, then engaging the anger would be appropriate, functional and effective if you make the right choice of how to overpower the threat

If, however, you act impulsively and your intervention is either too excessive or too weak, then you have made the situation worse.

2.The perceived threat is not real and you have made a mistake.

If there is no threat and you go to war when you engage your anger, you will most likely overreact and create significant problems for yourself interpersonally and, possibly, legally.

This is the mistake that those whose anger seems to be controlling them make.

Validating your anger serves two purposes.

On the one hand, it acknowledges your anger and helps to prevent resisting or denying your emotion. Resistance and/or denial only make the anger stronger.

Secondly, it prevents you from engaging your anger and acting impulsively.  This keeps open all of your options for responding to the situation in which you find yourself.

#3 Assess twice Act once (resist reacting)

This is very similar to what people who construct things advise which is to “Measure twice, cut once.” The idea in construction is that you should double check your measurement before you make a cut that you can’t undo.

When it comes to anger, the idea is that you assess the nature of the perceived threat, think about it and then take a second look before you do something that you can’t take back and might have to atone for with an apology or, perhaps, a trip to court.

Assessing twice does not necessarily take a lot of time.

If you decide to exit the situation, think it over, and then reengage with the person  you are mad at, then assessing twice will take some time.  And, it may be time that is very well spent.

But, in a tense situation, assessing twice can simply mean that you immediately guage the situation, take a second deep breath, make a second assessment and then respond.

#4 Choose an effective response

Let’s break this one down.

First,you need to be aware that your goal is always to respond and not react.

Secondly, you are always responsible for any action you take even if it is a spontaneous reaction to an event. As I’ve noted above and in other posts, you can never justify the excuse that “My anger made you do it.” because, ultimately, all your behavior stems from thoughts and decisions that you make.

Finally, your response should be effective in that you have determined that it will neutralize the threat with a minimum of collateral damage.

There are several elements involved in effectiveness…

  • your assessment of the threat,
  • the level of “force” needed to meet and deal specifically with the threat,
  • the skills you need to implement the action you will take and
  • the degree to which you can carry out your plan.

Finally, in choosing an effective response, there are 4 important considerations:

  • it is important to accept that you are making a choice as to what you will do.
  • You are not forced to do anything.
  • You are responsible for the choice you make.
  • You might make the wrong choice and can always make a different choice.

Thanks for reading..

If you have found this series of posts useful….

  • please recommend this blog to anyone who could benefit from it
  • post a link to the post on social media
  • or, with appropriate references to and acknowledging MY AUTHORSHIP AND BLOG, republish it. PLEASE DO NOT PLAGIARIZE OR STEAL MY CONTENT.

4 Part Series on Anger. Part 3: You Are NOT Your Anger

When  you saw the title of this post, did you wonder what point I was trying to make?

Or, did you think something along the lines of, “Duh!”?

In either case, the point I am making is that sometimes people act as if their anger has taken control of them. Or, in other words, they have become their anger.

As I will discuss below, while it may feel like your anger is is calling the shots, your anger NEVER has control over what you do. It is always a tool that you can deploy to make your life better.

Let me unpack this a bit using pain as an example.

Let’s say that you have a headache. You are uncomfortable and, maybe, you are even a bit surly with those around you.

I know this has happened to me.

Should you be challenged about your behavior, you probably would apologize and explain that you have a headache and it was really bothering you.

If the headache persists over time and doesn’t go away after you’ve taken some OTC medication, you might decide to call your doctor.

This action of using the pain as a source of information encouraging you ro get some help is actually using your pain as a tool.

Pain is a physical phenomenon which, as a tool, both informs you that something is wrong and encourages you (because it hurts) to stop what you are doing (straining something) or seek professional help to look into what is going on inside you that might be problematic.

By the way, this is the function of pain.

You would not say that the headache forced you to be surly or that the headache was in some way controlling you.

In other words, it would always be clear to you that you had a headache and not that your headache had “become you” and taken control of you.

If you did blame your headache, then you would be engaging in the psychological phenomenon of suffering from your pain. Suffering involves giving unwarranted meaning or significance to the physical pain.

This process is analogous to that which happens with the  emotion of anger.

Here is how the Anger Cycle works:

  • You are hard-wired to constantly, and subconsciously, scan your surroundings for threat.
  • When a threat is perceived, a fast message is sent to the Amygdala in your brain telling your body to prepare for battle.  This is your anger reaction. The physical signs of this preparation are the changes that your body goes through when you get angry.
  • At the same time, a slower message goes to your cerebral cortex which tells you that a threat has been perceived.  This gives you an opportunity to assess the nature of the threat and choose your response.

As I have noted in other posts, anger is a tool, the function of which is to alert you to and prepare you to deal with perceived threat. Your anger is like the smoke detector in your house.  It sends out an alert and screams “Check out what is going on!”

Your anger does not tell you what to do next anymore than the smoke detector tells you to grab your “go-bag” and move to higher ground.  After all, it may be that the toaster just burned the toast. Or, you could have just misunderstood what was said to you.

Or, there just might be a fire and the perceived threat is real.  This is where your assessment and response options become important.

Sometimes, however, a person will act as if their initial reaction is absolutely correct (and not take the time to assess the situation) and go to war.  In this situation, they have become their anger and that the anger is eliciting behavior that is often seen as inappropriate or extreme.

 

Notice the words in italics.  (Act as if) The individual, here, is abdicating any judgement to the anger and is assuming that “war” is, indeed, called for.

It is, as if, the anger got inside them and, like an insidious virus or alien being, took control of their actions and gave them no choice but to lash out at or hurt another person.

In other words, they have become their anger!

When called out for their actions, while angry, they will plead that this just wasn’t like them and that their anger made them do what they did.

When a person takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames their anger, they might as well saying that they were possessed.

To put it another way, when you over-identify with, and distance yourself from, your anger, you, in a sense, become your anger.

In essence, you are acting as-if it controls you.

Three important points are critical here.

First, your anger, as an emotion,  results from how you perceive your surroundings.

Secondly, because anger is a hard-wired emotion and can happen very quickly,  your experience may very well feel like your anger is controlling you. This is the fast track process of anger that I have addressed in other posts and in my book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool.

Thirdly, because the emotional process of anger, always sends a slower message to the the thinking part of your brain (the Cortex), you always have a choice as to how you will respond to the perceived threat.

In other words, your anger does initially happen to you based on how you perceive your surroundings.  But, it never becomes you as you always have a choice as to how you will respond.

You just have to learn how to recognize and strategically utilize this choice.

 

4 Part Series on Anger. Part 2: Diffferent “faces” of anger

In part 1 of this series, I noted that for some people, anger is a “unitary” concept.  Anger is either present or it is absent.

“I am angry (or I am not)” is one “face” of, or one way to conceptualize, anger.

For other people, anger is conceived in “binary” terms.  For these folks, either there is no anger or their anger is out of control.

Here, the “face” of anger is, “I don’t usually get angry but when I do, watch out!”

The state of “no anger” may be their default state and is what they experience most of the time.

The state of maximum anger, or rage, is what happens when someone believes that another person has “made” them angry. The behavior of that other person is seen as so egregious and the threat so large that maximum force is needed to repel it and the raging person often either doesn’t feel responsible for their actions or feels justified, in the moment, for whatever they do or say.

For the record, it is impossible for one person to make another person angry.

When experiencing rage, these people tend to do or say something that results in unwanted consequences or  problematic outcomes for which they later may need to apologize.

The fact of the matter is that both of these ways of viewing anger are problematic in that they do not fully cover how anger is expressed and eliminate one’s ability to utilize anger as a strategic tool to improve one’s life.

Recall from my last post that anger, as a primary emotion, is a primitive threat detector, the function of which is to alert you to and prepare you to deal with a perceived threat.

With this in mind, the most effective way to think about anger is to use fire (as a survival tool) as a metaphor for anger.

Using fire as a metaphor, think about the difference between building a camp fire to stay warm (cold is the perceived threat), building a bigger fire to cook a meal (hunger is the perceived threat), and using a flame thrower in war (the enemy who wants to kill you is the threat). In each of these examples, fire is the power that is being deployed but the intensity of the flame is both proportional to and designed to overcome the perceived “threat”.

From this point of view, the emotion of anger should be seen as a continuum in which the energy expressed as anger ranges from a small amount to a very large amount.

The key component here is the nature of the perceived threat. One’s anger is initially a reaction, and then a strategically chosen response, to that threat.

The degree of threat that you believe, or perceive, exists is what elicits the anger that arises to help you deal with that threat. In other words, how you view the situation in which you find yourself determines both how you define the threat and the level of power you need to bring to bear to eliminate that threat.

By way of explanation, I should say that, while it is true that your perceptions of threat are linked to both the Model of your world which serves as a filter thorough which you view any interaction and the skill sets you bring to that interaction, these are topics for other posts. In this post, I am focussing just on the emotion of anger.

The “many faces of anger” then reflect the different levels of expressed anger that occur along this continuum from mild to extreme.  While all of these emotions are variations of the basic emotion of anger, the different levels of threat are reflected in the the different words we use to  label the emotions we experience.

Other words that describe different levels of anger and the different threats that are implied by these labels include frustration, annoyance, disappointment, indignation, resentment, exasperation and rage.

Think of these as different faces of anger.

Let’s start with some definitions from the New Oxford American dictionary.

frustration: the feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something

annoyance: the feeling or state of being irritated

disappointment: sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations

indignation: anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment

resentment: bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly

exasperation: a feeling of intense irritation or annoyance:

rage: violent, uncontrollable anger

You might correctly be wondering at this point what difference any of this makes.  Why not just say: “I’m angry.” or “I’m very angry!”?

This is a binary approach to the emotion of anger.

And, while binary statements often are sufficient, they severely limit your options and possibly might make it more likely that you will overreact.

Let’s go back to our fire analogy.

Let’s say that you are camping and you tell your associates to build a fire. While you might mean a “cooking” fire, if they visualize a big warming fire, you might end up eating protein bars for dinner because you can’t get close enough to the flames to cook your burgers.

Or, if you are preparing for a Homecoming rally at the University and you tell your naive associate to build a fire and he (or she) builds a warming fire instead of a bonfire, all the boosters will show up and be clearly disappointed.

An example from the workplace..

Let’s say that you are working on a project with a co-worker, tasks have been assigned, and this co-worker comes to the working meeting without having completed their assigned tasks.

They give you their reason.

You  experience anger.

If that anger is disappointment, the perceived threat is that your expectations were  thwarted and the project deadline must be reset but you attempt to sympathize with your co-worker.

If that anger is frustration, the perceived threat is that your co-worker, for whatever reason, is messing up your plans to get this project done and you probably are not very understanding toward your co-worker.

If that anger is exasperation, the perceived threat involves more than just the incomplete task at hand, there are probably unresolved issues you need to work out with this individual and the project (and your relationship) may be at risk.

Finally, if that anger is rage, the perceived threat may only marginally be related to the incomplete task, you are in reactive mode, you most likely have led others in the room to either leave the room or think about calling security and you may have to seek some professional help.

Or, maybe you are angry but aren’t really sure why. Your co-worker’s “reasons” for the missing materials seem okay and the project can be rescheduled. Perhaps, however, what you are really feeling is hurt, let down or even betrayed but rather than own up to these emotions, you substitute anger.

This is anger as a secondary emotion.  It is dishonest anger as it is substituting for and covering up other emotions.

As you can see, the different label you use to describe your anger gives you bothbinsight into the threat you perceive and a clearer path to the way you choose to strategically respond to the situation.

In summary, in order to facilitate your being able to deploy it as a strategic tool, the emotion of anger needs to be viewed along a continuum.

The better you get at specifically identifying the level of anger you are experiencing…

  • the more effective you become at communicating what you feel to others so that they can appropriately respond and interact with you and
  • the more capable you become at choosing a response that is commensurate with and proportional to the real nature of the threat that exists.

 

 

 

 

 

4 part series on anger. Part 1: Is it okay to be angry?

P1 Is it okay to be angry?

This is an interesting question that was addressed to me on Quora.

The question is important because it reflects a common myth that “anger” is an emotion that is best either ignored or suppressed.

Note: For future reference, this is a link to a post I did on the three primary anger myths.

The belief that anger should be avoided stems from the (correct) observation that inappropriate behavior is often associated with the emotion of anger.  In other words, it is true that when people get angry, they are more prone to do dumb things. It is not true that anger is the cause of the dumb behavior.

As a primary emotion, the nature of anger is to prepare you for war.  When “war” actually is the optimum response, anger is the “optimum” emotion.

The “inappropriate” behavior we observe as a reaction to anger is often “inappropriate” because it does not fit the situation that actually exists and which elicits both one’s anger and reactive behavior.

To put it another way, the behavior that anger elicits is “designed” to fight off a “life-altering” threat. This is why “war”, as a response to a “life-altering” threat would be appropriate.  However, if this level of threat is absent, “war” becomes both inappropriate and overkill. This mismatch is what you observe when a celebrity assaults his significant other and, later, expresses his regret for and inability to understand what he has done.

The problem lies in both the initial assessment of the issue at hand (one’s perception of the situation) and the nature of the behavioral solution  to rectify that issue.

Anger gets the blame for a misguided and faulty analysis of the situation.

Here is the critical point: anger is just a tool.

If you hit your thumb with a hammer, the pain you feel is attributable to your inadequate handling of the tool not the tool itself.

Anger is, indeed, a human emotion and, therefore, should be strategically deployed so as to deal with and resolve the situation as it actually exits.

So, the quick answer to the question posed above is: “Yes, with certain guidelines, it is okay to get angry.”

With this answer as a background context, let’s look at different types of anger.

Most people believe that anger is a unitary concept in that you either are angry (appropriately or inappropriately) or you are not. While this is one “face” of anger as I will discuss in the next post, it is  misunderstanding of what Ange is and is incorrect.

In fact, there are different manifestations of anger.

The first, and most common, manifestation of anger, is that anger is a primary emotion that humans have had since we began to evolve.

There are 6 primaryemotions 4 of which are primitive threat-detectors.

The purpose of these emotions is to alert us to a threat and prepare us to deal with that threat.  The four threat-detectors are mad (anger), sad, fear and disgust.  The other 2 primary emotions are glad (happy) and surprise.  The purpose of glad is to engage us in an activity and motivate us to pursue that activity.

Anger is seen in almost all human cultures and in many sub-human species.  It appears in humans early after birth.

The nature of anger is to alert us to a threat that we believe we can overpower if we throw enough force at it.  (Note: If it was a threat that we could not defeat, we would experience fear.)  This is why anger energizes us to take action.  The amygdala in the brain is activated, our vision narrows and focuses,  and the body is put on red alert. We are primed to REACT.  When facing a true threat, this is as we would want it to be: automatic, outside of our awareness, and fast. This is also the fast track emotional pathway which goes from our sense organs directly to the amygdala and out to the body.

When we use our anger as a tool, we tap into the slower emotional pathway which goes from the sense organs to the cerebral cortex (our thinking center) in the brain.

You strategically deploy this tool when you validate the anger, assess the nature of the threat (does it really call for action or can I walk away, make an assertive response, or do nothing), and choose how you want to RESPOND to the situation.

While this is the most common manifestation, there are at least two others.

The second manifestation of anger involves using anger as a secondary emotion.

Some people, primarily men but women also, substitute anger for other feelings such as guilt, shame, hurt, or anxiety.  Anger is an energizing emotion which  is experienced as pleasurable and (for men, at least) as familiar  while these other feelings are experienced as unpleasant and unfamiliar.  So, we show anger rather than feel vulnerable and exposed with these other feelings.

When anger is a secondary emotion, it is advisable to not express it, learn to recognize it, and, if necessary, get some help learning to express these other feelings.

Lastly, anger can be used instrumentally to achieve a specific end.  When used this way, the individual gets angry in order to manipulate or intimidate others.  When anger is used to manipulate others, it is a dishonest anger and others should, if they can, work to nullify this expression of anger, redirect the individual and encourage them to find other ways to get their needs met.

Part 1 of this four part series provided a general overview of anger.

Here is what I will cover in the next 3 posts:

P2 –The different faces of anger

P3– You are Not Your Anger

P4– 4 Secrets for Unlocking Your Anger and Deploying It Strategically

If you find my blog posts interesting or useful, please send a link or a recommendation to click over to my blog to anyone you know who might be able to benefit from the information I provide.

Thanks, in advance.

See you in the next post.

5 Anger Myths Explained, Discussed and Debunked Part #2

In Part #1 of this two part series, I discussed what a myth was and looked at the first of 5 anger myths.

In this post, I discuss anger myths 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Myth #2: My anger  controls me.

Myth #2 also appears in many forms.

  • My anger made me do it (whatever action “it” refers to).
  • I had no choice (to do what I did).  I was so angry.

The implication of the myth is that you are a robot without free will when it comes to the emotion of anger.

This myth persists in part because of the nature of anger and all emotions.

Emotions have existed since man, as a species, lived in caves or on the Savannah.  Emotions evolved to help us survive as a species. Humans survived by constantly scanning their surroundings for threats that would kill them.  When a threat was perceived (consciously or subconsciously), the brain automatically engaged a fight or flight reaction to protect the individual from the threat.  This process, initiated through the Amygdala and the Reticular Activating System in the brain,  was (and continues to be) fast and automatic as it should be if a genuine threat exists.

The emotion that was experienced always matched the nature of the threat and prepared the person for appropriate action.

Today, because most of the threats we face are psychological in nature and not survival based, the match between the emotion and the reaction is less reliable.

The process, however, has not changed since we lived in caves.

Because of the automatic emotional reaction, it is easy to see why some people may believe the emotion forces them to act.

As humans continued to evolve and develop a bigger, more complicated brain, the cerebral cortex, or thinking part of the brain, allowed us to think about, or evaluate, what we were experiencing and gave us access to more choices.

Today, the emotional reaction still exists but we now have the opportunity to evaluate the nature of the threat and choose how we want to respond.

So, while the myth persists, the truth is that our brains have evolved and given us the opportunity to evaluate our emotional reaction before we act-out and, therefore, to choose how we want to respond. This is the more “modern” part of the anger mastery cycle.

The downside of the myth is that those who believe it feel helpless to deal with their anger and are left with two choices:

  1. never get angry
  2. always act-out on their anger

Choice #1 is nearly impossible and choice #2 could result in their getting in trouble or to others avoiding them.

In addition, if anger is perceived as the causative element, these individuals will perceive no need to get help.

Myth #3: Someone else can make you angry.

This myth is similar to Myth #2.

The difference is that while myth #2 blames the anger and implies a sense of helplessness, this myth avoids responsibility for inappropriate anger by blaming the “victim” of one’s anger for causing the acting-out.

Aggressive men who abuse others use this myth as an justification for their behavior.

The myth persists because it offers those who act out inappropriately an excuse for their inappropriate actions, a way to avoid taking responsibility for their behavior, and a way to blame someone else for what they have chosen to do.

In other words, the angry individual..

  1. Claims that they  did not (mess up) because they are a bad or hurtful guy (which they most likely are) but because their anger gave them no choice and
  2. Avoids personal responsibility for their actions by blaming someone else for the inappropriate behavior

As an aside, people who get drunk and act-out attempt to blame the alcohol for their actions.

“If I wasn’t drunk, I would not have…”

While this statement may be true, it ignores the fact that the person chose to get drunk and is, therefore, completely responsible for their actions.

Similarly, with anger.

Yes, it may be true that if a (wife, girlfriend) had not done what they did, the abuser probably would not have gotten angry, and if they were not angry, they probably would not have acted-out. However, this sequence ignores the fact that the individual is not a robot and always has a choice regarding the actions they take.

Anger is never the cause of inappropriate behavior.

Myth #4: Anger is always a secondary emotion

Many writers choose to label anger as a secondary emotion.

This assertion is  wrong, it ignores some basic research findings and it is disempowering because it denies the primary function of anger as a primitive threat detector.  In addition, it denigrates the energy anger provides as a motivator of effective corrective action.

A secondary emotion is one that is used as a substitute for another feeling.

Men tend to use anger as a secondary emotion to substitute for feelings of anxiety, hurt or vulnerability.

This happens because anger is an empowering emotion which elicits a sense of power, ability to go on the attack, and a sense of strength.  Anger evolved to do exactly this.

Feelings like anxiety, sadness, and vulnerability, however, leave men feeling weak and inadequate. Again, this is what these feelings are supposed to do.

So, when faced with feeling weak or inadequate, all of which “hurt”, a man may choose to express anger.

This is secondary anger and it is always dishonest.

The truth is that men need to learn to master all their feelings and the information their feelings provide if they want to be more interpersonally effective.

Myth #5: Women should not get angry.

This myth states that women should not get angry because:

  • it isn’t feminine or
  • the consequences aren’t worth it

This myth persists because the the truth is that for some women, expressing anger (especially in a professional office setting) can lead to unwanted consequences.

Several years ago, I went onto a professional women’s forum on LinkedIn. I identified myself as a man and respectfully asked for feedback from these women regarding what happened when they showed appropriate anger in a professional setting.  I received over 2000 responses to my query.  The message clearly was that when women showed anger, they were demeaned, marginalized and negatively labelled. It seems that their male colleagues were not equipped to deal with these women and their issues in a professional and validating manner.

As a side note, I recently went to the same network on LinkedIn with another question, clearly identified myself as a male and was “informed” that I was not welcome on the network.  How times have changed!

The bottom line is that this myth implies that a woman is not entitled to be angry and to use her anger as a tool to bring about change in her environment. This implication is both incorrect and insidiously disempowering.

The truth is that while she may have to adjust how she expresses her anger, she needs to validate her feelings and choose a more indirect strategic approach to using the energy of her anger to facilitate change.

My book Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool has a whole chapter devoted to Professional Women.

In these two posts, I introduced you to five widely held myths about anger.  My goal was to show you these myths, make you aware of the various ways these myths present themselves, help you understand why the myths persist, and empower you to overcome these myths and strategically express your anger rather than be hobbled and let your anger be taken away from you by  half-truths, misinformation, and ingrained misunderstandings.

I welcome your comments.

5 Anger Myths Explained, Discussed and Debunked Part 1

This is the first of a two part series of posts which look at some common myths about anger. While there are many different anger myths, I have chosen to look at 5 myths which I believe will give you, as a follower of this blog, a better understanding of the misinformation that has been written about anger, how this misinformation has evolved into widely believed myths which act to both demean anger as a valid emotion and disempower people, including women, to deploy their anger as a strategic tool.

I have chosen to write two posts rather than one in order to keep the length of each post manageable.

In part #1, this post, I will discuss what a myth is and anger myth #1.

In part #2, I will discuss the remaining 4 myths.

Let’s start by examining what a myth is.

Myth Defined

A myth is a story, a belief, or a statement about how the world is perceived to be.

It might be an “old wive’s tale” that has been repeated so often that it is unquestioned, widely believed,  and accepted as fact.

The Problem with Myths

While many of them may sound both logical and correct, they turn out to be false when critically examined.

That they appear to be logical increases the likelihood that they will be believed and repeated.

Two Examples of Myths

 The 5-second rule.

This rule states that if a food object such as a piece of candy, a slice of banana bread, or a chicken leg falls on the floor, it remains safe to eat as long as you pick it up within 5 seconds of dropping it.

While I hate to admit it, I have heard this rule over and over, repeated it to others, and even acted as if it were true. The facts, however, are that it is completely false. Indeed,  it only takes a very small fraction of one second for bacteria to contaminate your food once the eatable lands on your germy floor. And, if you walk on that floor, it’s germy.

I don’t know how this myth started.

What I do know is that it probably persists because we don’t want to throw out or waste “good”food, or give up that tasty treat just because it accidentally found its way to the floor.

I have implemented the myth because it was convenient.  While I haven’t gotten sick (yet), the myth is still wrong and it is wise not to believe it.

Brown vs White Eggs

Another common myth is that brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.  The truth is that egg color is related to the breed of the specific chicken and there is no correlation between egg color and the nutritional value of the egg. Here, the myth might persist because advertisers and merchants have found that they can charge more for brown eggs than white eggs.  So, while you may think you are getting more for your money with brown eggs, all that is going on is that you are unnecessarily spending more than you need to.

I do pay more for extra large eggs and they happen to be brown.  I wouldn’t pay more money for brown vs white eggs.

Anger Myths

There are many myths about anger and I suspect they persist for several reasons which will be discussed below.

Anger myths are problematic and even psychologically harmful because…

  • our behavior is impacted by the myth,
  • our ability to strategically deploy our anger as an emotional tool gets impaired, and
  • the validity of the myth is not challenged,

There are numerous anger myths. I’ll explore 5 of them.

Myth #1: Anger is a negative, dangerous, or bad emotion.

This myth is both widely believed and widely quoted although the form you see it in may change. It is seen as both believable and credible because most people do not understand what anger is or why we experience it.

By the way, I totally explore and explain anger in my Amazon best selling book: Beyond Anger Management: Master Your Anger as a Strategic Tool.  You can download the first two chapters of the book (without any opt-in) by clicking on the “Beyond Anger Management” page on your right.

Examples of this myth include:

  • “Anger is a negative emotion.”,
  • “Anger is one step (or letter) away from danger.”, and
  • “It is bad to get angry.”

The facts about anger are..

  • anger is a primitive threat detector,
  • It has three functions:
  1. subconsciously perceive the presence of a survival threat (one that would kill us)
  2. alert us to the threat, and
  3. very quickly prepare our bodies to attack and eliminate the threat. Anger prepares us for battle.

These three functions are primitive, occur subconsciously and are part of the anger mastery cycle.   You can download a PDF of the entire anger mastery cycle by clicking on the link in the page section to your right.

The myth probably persists because some people, when they get angry, do bad or regrettable things.

Secondly, because anger motivates us to take quick action toward a threat, it is easy to assume that the anger causes the negative behavior that becomes associated with it.

It is the association between anger and behavior that gives anger a bad reputation.

That anger causes behavior is another myth we will discuss next.

The truth is..

  • There are no negative emotions.
  • All emotions are adaptive in that they provide us with important information about our surroundings.
  • We can learn to master our emotions and choose to use the information they provide to improve our lives and our relationships.
  • Emotions never force us to do anything.

In the next post, I will discuss the other 4 anger myths.

I welcome your comments.

 

Love Mac and Cheese (LMAC): 4 Steps to Mastering Anger

As a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have written extensively about using all emotions as tools and about specific emotions such as anxiety and anger.  Of all the emotions, I have focused most of my posts on mastering anger as it seems that many people do not understand what anger is and seem to blame anger for any problematic behavior that anger appears to elicit.

As most of the literature focuses on managing anger, which involves controlling the emotion and is often unsuccessful, I have chosen to go a step further and emphasize mastering anger as a tool.

With this in mind, in this post, I am offering a way to remember the process of mastering your anger. Everyone is familiar with macaroni and cheese either as a kid or as an adult.

So, if you can recall macaroni and cheese, you can remember the four steps to mastering your anger using Love Mac And Cheese (LMAC) as a mnemonic devise.

Anger Mastery-Simplified (managing vs mastering anger)

  • Management => Controlling Anger
  • Mastery => Using Anger as a Tool

Remember that anger management involves lowering your arousal level and controlling your anger while mastering your anger allows you to use your anger as a tool to improve your life and your relationships.

Anger mastery involves:

  • validating the emotion and knowing that you are angry,
  • initially managing your anger by controlling your arousal,
  • mastering your anger by assessing the situation and
  • choosing an appropriate response to effectively deal with the situation.

 

 The 4 steps to Mastering Your Anger:  LMAC  (Love Mac And Cheese):

The 4 Steps to Mastering Anger are:

  1. (L)  Label the emotion,
  2. (M) Make a safe space.
  3.  (A)  Assess the situation
  4.  (C)  Choose an effective response and do it.

Step #1: Label the emotion

All emotions start with an unconscious reaction to a situation.

When we lived in caves, we were constantly on the alert for threats that would kill us. As all threats were both real and dangerous, we evolved a process which would continuously and subconsciously scan our surroundings for any threat.  When our subconscious scan picked up a threat, our bodies automatically went into fight/flight/freeze.  We were on alert and ready to act.

Again, back then, ALL threats were survival based so this automatic process was both efficient and effective.

As we fast-forward today, the problem is two-fold.

  • First, most of the threats we now face on a regular basis are psychological (not survival) based.
  • Second, and perhaps more importantly, while we, as a species, have evolved in many ways, the automatic alert process that operates subconsciously has not evolved.

Emotionally, this plays out this way….

Anger is one of 3 primitive survival- based threat detectors. The other two are fear and disgust.  These primitive threat detectors are designed to set us up for flight or fight.

Other emotions such as anxiety, pride, and jealousy have evolved to denote psychological threats.

The issue is that the primitive part of our brains reacts to any threat today just as it did eons ago.

To the  primitive part of our brain…

Threat=Danger=Red Alert.

Each emotion alerts us to a situation we are facing and prepares us for action.

As we initially experience all emotions physically, the first step in mastering anger is to be able to identify how your body tells you that you are angry and to label that emotion as anger (as opposed to hurt, jealousy, etc.)

There are two possibilities here:

  1. Your initial assessment is accurate and there is a real threat.
  2. Your initial perception of the threat is not accurate and the emotion you are experiencing doesn’t match the situation you are facing.

Hence, the need for Step 2.

Step #2: Make a Safe Space.

Whether you are accurate in your initial assessment of the threat or not, it is important that you create some “space” between you and the threat.

Step #2 calls for creating both a physical and a psychological safe space.

Physical safety.

The message of anger is that you perceive a threat that you believe you can eliminate if you throw enough force at it.  You are ready for WAR.

If you are facing a physical threat, taking a step back creates some space between you and the threat.

This can communicate that you are willing to defend yourself or it can  communicate to another person that you might not be the threat they initially perceived.

Psychological safety.

By taking a deep breath, you automatically reduce your level of emotional arousal.  Lowering your physiological arousal allows you to engage the thinking part of your brain (the cerebral cortex) and makes you better prepared to make logical decisions.

This sets you up for Step #3.

Step #3:  Assess the situation

You will need the thinking part of your brain to help you BOTH assess what is really going on in your situation and to decide the most effective action to take to resolve what is taking place.

Assess:

You have have an opportunity to determine whether your initial assessment of risk was accurate or that you misjudged the situation for reasons including:

  • You initially looked at the interaction through the biased lens of some prior experience.
  • You misjudged the other person’s actions because what they did was ambiguous.
  • They misjudged you and your intent.

Decide:

If you decide based on new information that your initial assessment was not accurate, you can change how you view what is happening.  When you do this, what you feel will also change.

If your initial assessment of risk was accurate and the emotion you are experiencing is preparing you for effective action, your thinking  brain will help you choose the best course of action to take.

With anger, the threat is real.

But, it may be more effective to talk rather than to attack.

You are now ready for Step #4.

Step#4: Choose an effective response and do it.

Once you have accurately matched to and validated your emotion within the situation, you are now ready to engage the thinking part of your brain to choose the most effective response to the threat and to use the energy of your anger to execute the action you have chosen to deal with the “perceived” threat.

This might involve:

  • Further engaging the other person by talking to them
  • Attacking them
  • Apologizing for any misunderstanding
  • Disengaging by walking away

Remember that the job of your anger, as a tool, is to..

  1. alert you to a possible threat.
  2. prepare you to deal with the threat  and
  3. give you the energy to take effective action.

LMAC reminds you of the four steps you need to take to master your anger as an emotional tool.

Learning to effectively implement these steps takes time and is NOT easy.  It is, however, DOABLE with practice.

I welcome your comments.

 

Why it feels like someone else makes you angry. (Note: They don’t.) And, what you can do.

We’ve all experienced it or read about it.

  • We are trying to put together a shelf, a bicycle or a complex something or other and the instructions for taking the next step are mysteriously absent or lacking the information we need.  We are ready to go to war with the company.
  •  A celebrity  gets angry and beats up his girlfriend or does something equally as dumb and says “I got angry” but implies that his anger made him become aggressive.
  • You fill in your own experience.

it isn’t just that we get angry.  Indeed, we experience the anger as instantaneous and interpret what is happening in this way:

A: Something happens.

B: We react with anger.

C: A seems to cause B.

Or, to put it another way, A made us angry.

While it is true that your initial emotional reaction to a perceived threat is quick, automatic and beyond your control, it isn’t true that your emotion chooses your response and  coerces you to act out.

Let me explain.

Anger is one of 6 primary emotions for which we are hard-wired.

When we lived in caves, we did not have sharp teeth or claws like the predators who wanted to eat us and we had to be able to react quickly to both animal predators and other human predators who wished us harm.

Our emotions evolved to do this.

Basically, we did, and still do today, constantly scan our surroundings for any threat.  When a threat is subconsciously perceived, a fast track message is sent to the Amygdala in the brain which communicates, via the Thalamus, with the body.  We automatically go into fight or flight mode.

We are ready for battle or to run.

The threat response didn’t require a lot of thinking and always matched the threat (survival based).

The problem, today, is that our response often does not match the threat because the nature of the threats we face has changed (psychological based).

While this very quick reaction to threat was adaptive and helped us survive when we lived in caves, it hasn’t changed over the millennia and is the reason you perceive your anger to be automatic.

So, yes, your anger may be automatic.

And, if you react without much thinking, that’s your caveman coming out and it feels automatic and beyond your control.

Your behavioral response, however, is neither automatic nor beyond your control.  And, here is why.

As our brains evolved, the cerebral cortex, or thinking part of the brain gave us the ability to choose how we wanted to respond to the automatic or, more primitive, parts of our brain.

So, at the same time that the fast track message goes to the Amygdala, a relatively slower message goes to the Cerebral Cortex whose task is to interpret the nature of the threat and the best way to respond to it.

You’ve experienced a similar reaction-response sequence if you’ve ever made a quick assessment of  situation, reacted, said or did something, got more information and found out that your initial reaction was incorrect and did not match what was actually taking place.

The emotion you felt could have been anxiety if you were worried about something that was never going to happen in the first place such as when you wanted to ask your boss for a raise but avoided it  because you knew he would say “no” and were surprised when you finally got up the courage to ask and he quickly said “yes”. Or, it could have been anger if you went “off” on your kid for being late, saw his/her face, got more information and felt very bad when you found out that your kid drove his inebriated friend home and forgot to grab his cell phone.

The slower track message to your cerebral cortex ALWAYS give you a choice about how you will respond to your anger.

The challenge is that the quick anger reaction is both automatic and more attention grabbing than the slower, we’ll call it thinking, message.

You have to learn how to respond rather than react to perceived threats.

Here is the process..

  • Accept that you make you angry.
  • Learn to pay attention to the “signals” your body gives you when you are reacting with anger (warmth, tightened muscles, focused attention).
  • As soon as you become aware of your anger, remind yourself to take a breath and take a step back from the perceived threat.
  • Use this “break” to assess the real nature of the threat.
  • Choose an effective response which matches the nature of the threat.

It is not easy to learn this process but it is doable.

I welcome your comments.