Psychological Self-Help

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what doesn’t, what in your past aroused and motivated your anger responses, how
you can change your thinking and accept responsibility for maintaining control over
your anger, and so on. That is a start to finding a way out of the “anger trap.”
Often when you get mad, you really have valid points to make but spewing out your
strong, stinging anger reaction about some aspect of the situation may totally mess
up the communication. Ranting weakens your helpful contributions. So, first, make
an effort to describe the merits of your viewpoint from someone else’s perspective,
consider the good it will do, or the just causes your ideas will serve if tactfully stated.
Leave aside the ways you are feeling personally slighted or offended. Rushing in
abruptly and abrasively to get your way or to express your irritation will most likely
be unproductive. If some of your ideas can serve a useful purpose and would be truly
helpful to the person you are talking to, your ideas can probably be clearly
expressed, without strong anger, in a way that is acceptable to the other person and
to others. That controlled action demonstrates your thoughtfulness, open-
mindedness, and good intentions. A cordial, civil tone opens minds and is facilitating;
bitter and self-serving anger gives rise to counter-attacks and pessimism. Anger or
showing that you are upset, when expressed in a constructive, supportive way, can
strengthen relationships and emotional bonds.
Carter agrees that one of the more helpful ways to avoid being overly angry or
aggressive is to learn and practice assertiveness, which is far more respectful and
recommended in the previous chapter, a powerful way to calm one’s self is to
genuinely attempt to understand the views and feelings of the other person. See
skills are described in the same chapter: ”I” Statements and Expressing Anger
Constructively ( ).
Almost all psychologists would recommend these skills for dealing with anger.
Carter describes some of these skills in another way, namely, what he calls
“releasing anger.” That is a misleading phrase if you assume that it means fully
venting or expressing anger. Instead, it means that you choose to set your anger
aside in favor of self-restraint and understanding of the situation. This results in your
taking the time to assess the situation and to “assertively” share your helpful ideas
and pursue more important things than expressing your anger forcefully. Being
assertive and controlling your anger (not letting it dominate your life) are good
examples of self-direction. A child needs a loving parent to teach him/her ways of
managing anger and relating to others. An anger-spewing adult needs therapy or
self-help to develop an anger management plan.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why we resist giving up the power we gain
through anger. As Barris points out (see above), many loud, pushy people with
explosive tempers view their anger as automatic, natural impulses that come from
inside and are entirely out of their control, i.e. “I’m just that way,” “I’ve always had
an explosive temper,” and “if you had been through what I have been through, you’d
feel real angry too.” Thus, the “hot head” often believes he/she has no choice and
can’t change. In addition, many other angry, aggressive people believe that the
world is filled with dominating people who use open and/or subtle hostility or power
to take control over their situation. Therefore, to avoid being taken over by others
(“you ain’t going to make me do something I don’t want to do), some people think to
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