Psychological Self-Help

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more progress in the next 2000 years. By the way, Seneca also advocated
child-rearing practices and humanistic education designed to build self-
esteem, model non-aggressive responses, and reward constructive non-
violent behavior. Sadly, an angry political leader killed him. 
Self-help methods must be tailored to each person’s needs
First of all, it seems clear that we have two basic ways of dealing with our
own anger. We can (a) prevent it, i.e. keep anger from welling up inside of
us, or (b) control it, i.e. modify our aggressive urges after anger erupts
inside. The preventative approach sounds ideal--avoid frustrating situations,
be assertive when things first annoy you, eliminate irrational ideas that
arouse anger, etc. But, we can't avoid all frustrations and all thoughts that
arouse anger. Secondly, in the situations where we haven't, as yet, learned to
prevent an angry reaction, we seem to fall into two easily recognized
categories: (a) "swallowers" or repressor-suppressor or (b) "exploders" or
hotheaded expressers. Do you recognize yourself and others you are close to?
The "swallowers" haven't prevented the anger, they have just hidden it--
suppressed it. (Don't let the fact that "swallowers" may eventually erupt in
fits of rage, much like the "exploder," confuse you.) In "exploders," angry
feelings and aggressive responses are immediate--little time for prevention,
little time to think about avoiding anger, the emotions just spew out. 
In time we will probably have a much better classification system. But for
now, the swallower-exploder distinction can help us. It seems obvious that
the self-help methods of most benefit to you will depend on (a) the nature of
the frustrations which still upset you (anger has not been prevented) and (b)
your personality type, "swallower" or "exploder." For instance, swallowers
might find certain methods, especially stress inoculation (#10 below), venting
feelings (#14), and assertiveness (#18), to be helpful. Exploders might use
the same methods too but others might be more effective, e.g. self-
instructions (#2 & #10), avoiding rewards (#7 & #8), learning tolerance
(#12 & #25), challenging irrational ideas (#24) and strengthen your
philosophy of love (#28 & #31). 
Of course, there are times when anger is appropriate and effective. Carol
Tavris (1984) says anger is effective only under these conditions: 
The anger is directed at the offending person (telling your
friends may increase your anger). 
The expression satisfies your need to influence the situation
and/or correct an injustice. 
Your approach seems likely to change the other person's
behavior, which means you can express yourself so they can
understand your point of view and so they will cooperate with
If these conditions are not met, you are usually well advised to "bite your
lip" or "hold your tongue" and vent your anger privately (by yourself alone), if
that helps, or forget it. You will be surprised how often the suppression of hot,
vile, cutting remarks avoids a nasty scene. 
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