Psychological Self-Help

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Reduce the environmental support for your aggression. How
aggressive, mean, and nasty we are is partly determined by the behavior of
those around us (Aronson, 1984). Perhaps you can avoid subcultures of
violence, including gangs or friends who are hostile, TV violence, action
movies, etc. More importantly, select for your friends people who are not
quick tempered or cruel and not agitators or prejudiced. Examples: if you are
in high school and see your friends being very disrespectful and belligerent
with teachers or parents, you are more likely to become the same way. If
your fellow workers are hostile to each other and insult each other behind
their backs, you are more likely to be aggressive than if you were alone or
with tolerant folks. So, choose your friends carefully. Pleasant, tactful models
are very important (Lando & Donnerstein, 1978). 
Explain yourself and understand others. It is remarkable what a
difference a little understanding makes. For example one of Zillmann's (1979)
studies shows that a brief comment like, "I am uptight" prior to being
abrasive and rude is enough to take the sting out of your aggressiveness. So,
if you are getting irritated at someone for being inconsiderate of you, ask
them if (or just assume) something is wrong or say, "I'm sorry you are having
a hard time." Similarly, if you are having a bad day and feeling grouchy, ask
others (in advance) to excuse you because you are upset. This changes the
environment. 
Develop better ways of behaving. See method #2 in chapter 11.
Although we may feel like hitting the other person and cussing them out,
using our most degrading and vile language, we usually realize this would be
unwise. Research confirms that calmly expressed anger is far more
understandable and tolerable than a tirade. Moon and Eisler (1983) found
that stress inoculation (#10), social skills training (#18-#21), and problem-
solving methods training were all effective ways to control anger. 
Try out different approaches and see how they work. Almost anything is
better than destructive aggression. Use your problem-solving skills as
discussed in chapters 2 and 13. If you are a yeller and screamer, try quiet
tolerance and maybe daily meditation. If you are a psychological name-caller,
try "I" statements (chapter 13) instead. If you sulk and withdraw for hours,
try saying, "I have a problem I'd like to talk about soon." If you tend to strike
out with your fists, try hitting a punching bag until you can plan out a
reasonable verbal approach to solving the problem. 
Baron and others (Biaggio, 1987) have shown that several responses are
incompatible with getting intensely anger, i.e. these responses seem to help
us calm down. Such responses include empathy responding, giving the
offender a gift, asking for sympathy, and responding with humor. Other
constructive reactions are to ask the offensive critic to clarify his/her insult or
to volunteer to work with and help out the irritating person. This only works if
your kindness is genuine and your offer is honest. 
In addition to incompatible overt responses, there are many covert or
internal responses you might use that will help suppress or control your
anger. Examples: self-instructions, such as "they are just trying to make you
mad" and "don't lose control and start yelling," influence greatly your view of
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