Psychological Self-Help

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something so selfish. We may feel our strong anger is necessary to stop their anger.
Then depending on our personality, we may try to force our beliefs on to others--we
may conceal our angry feelings (looking for a chance to “win” the battle), we may
speak forcefully, or we may strongly resist in a passive-aggressive manner. All these
manipulations do not optimally resolve the conflicts. Most people who feel controlled
or forced will, in time, rebel, resulting in undoing the situation that was based on
anger. Our anger-based gains are usually lost. It works out that most people
eventually have an opportunity to live their lives as they choose, so the “ill-gotten
gains” based on your anger are soon lost. You might think of it this way: every
person has a choice about how they express their anger and how they respond to
anger directed at them. But most of us know how compelling our anger can be, so
we are tempted to use it.
Carter has several chapters describing how our thinking—how we see the world—
gives rise to anger. For instance, if we have learned to use anger as a way to
establish our social status and our own sense of worth, then such a person is likely
to be insecure, overly dependent on others’ approval, and almost constantly angry.
Likewise, in the reverse direction, as you build your self-esteem and your feelings of
significance, as you work out a life-plan for living your philosophy of life, and as you
have the experience of relating warmly with others, you will have less and less
difficulty controlling your anger and being helpful and cordial.
In general, much of our anger seems to come from our own irrational thinking.  See
are awful can, of course, make us angry. That is, if we strive for an impossibly
idealistic life or world, it is possible that seeing that life and people fall short of these
ideals will generate continuous anger in us. Unfortunately, some people are unable
to accept reality or ordinary human behavior and they get mad.
Carter proceeds on for several additional chapters describing how our thinking may
make us upset and how his insights and skillful reasoning as a therapist makes the
person realize that his or her own thoughts (cognitions) generate the anger that
spews out. Psychologists do not know what percentage of people reading a
therapist’s or a writer’s (like me) explanations of anger will actually be helped to
control their anger. Perhaps, these kinds of case studies primarily lead the readers to
believe that only a therapist could correctly analyze the causes and reduce their
anger. More research is needed, right?
Dr. Semmelroth (2005) also teaches that our thoughts lead to anger but he focuses
mostly on relationships. For instance, he describes how our interactions, when
repeated often enough, become expectations, as if the expectations were a part of a
formal agreement. Then when one party doesn’t do what has become expected (call
for a date, arrange to pick up food for supper, etc.), the other person becomes upset
because the “rules” have been broken. It helps if couples recognize when considerate
behaviors become expectations and then gradually become obligations. Obligations
need to be discussed and explicitly agreed upon (otherwise, one partner thinks it is
an obligation and the other considers it optional).
Of course, cleaning up the criticism, negative comparisons, and nagging in a
conversation reduces the irritation both people feel. It can be helpful to keep a
record of these events and discuss them later. Remember Dr. Semmelroth thinks
anger is for control—and criticism builds up the pool of anger which you can use to
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