Psychological Self-Help

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Barris says this is garbage. Our culture teaches us that our anger is the
outcome of happenings outside of us, not the product of how we see and
think about the environment. It isn’t me that needs to change; it is someone
else or the world. The idea that stress causes anger is non-sense too (still
blaming the environment, not ourselves). Letting your anger out is almost
always a bad response, e.g. with your boss. Lie #4: “Some anger is healthy.
It tells me that there is a problem somewhere that needs my attention.”
Barris admits that many psychologists feel this way but he says, according to
his definition, no one really uses anger constructively that way. Lie #5:
“Beating up on something, like a pillow or punching bag, helps me get the
anger out.” Barris says the person venting anger will feel better immediately
afterwards but the beating on something is simply going to strengthen the
connection between feeling frustrated and believing aggression and rage will
solve the problem. So, your hostility problem keeps right on growing. 
Lie #6: “Hey, if I didn’t occasionally pitch a big one, everyone would think I
am weakling and, maybe scared and/or unable to handle difficult situations.”
Barris points out that a strong, capable person is not one who rants and raves
but one who thinks quickly and clearly so that an acceptable solution is found.
Lie #7: ”Even you, Dr. Barris, would get angry if you caught someone raping
your wife!” Barris says this is a common argument made by a person who
thinks they have delivered a fatal blow to his argument. Then he makes a
surprising statement: “no, I wouldn’t go into a rage because that is exactly
the kind of situation in which I need to make good decisions very quickly.”
Barris says people, such as police officers, can be taught to do just that (well,
that isn’t exactly the same as your wife, is it? But it makes his point.). “Lie
#8: “Some things people do and say instantly make me mad. It is out of my
control. I can’t stop it.” Barris says this is the biggest lie of all because it
implies that others can make you angry and you can’t stop them…and since
you feel powerless to stop them, it is obvious that the other person is fully
responsible for whatever happens (now, isn’t that convenient?). Barris says
you have to give up blaming others for how you feel and act.
From here Barris’s book leads to understanding Rational-Emotional Therapy
(described in detail in chapter 14) by using a Case Study of an unfaithful
husband and a hurt, angry wife. Barris believes anger is always unhealthy but
he accepts a related concept he calls “irritation.” Irritation is what is felt when
your desires (remember you can’t just make a demand that water run up
hill), preferences, hopes, wants or wishes are not met. Like Buddhists who tell
us that you can’t insist that the world unfold as you want it to, you can’t
control other people, and you can’t even demand that you act and feel
specific ways. You can hope and learn more about self-acceptance and self-
control. In the course of reviewing your beliefs, you will be able to replace
your anger-causing beliefs with beliefs that permit you to let go of anger.
Eventually, your personal philosophy will need to be based on your life
preferences which are adaptable to new situations. However, you just have to
accept that you can not be 100% sure that you can make another person do
anything. Acceptance of whatever happens is the key to internal peace.
Whatever happens is lawful.
Les Carter (2003), The Anger Trap
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