Anger Management Blog

Resentment Blocks Love and Closeness

Resentment: “Bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly”

I learned about resentment when I was sixteen years old and basically had two things on my mind. The second thing was getting a car. I saw myself as a responsible boy who earned good grades, was no trouble to anybody and basically had a clean record.

So, I approached my dad about getting a car. Not a new car, mind you. Just transportation to get me to school, to work (part time) and, of course, to perhaps have more of an opportunity to take care of the first thing that was on my mind.

My father was old school when it came to parenting. He pronounced that a 16 year old wasn’t responsible enough to have a car and I couldn’t have one until I was at least 35. No negotiating. No discussion. End of conversation.

Today I am 70 years old and still remember the incident and the deep resentment I felt toward him – not because he said no – but because I perceived that my feelings didn’t matter to him on an issue that was a major part of my life at the time. And I deeply felt that I was being treated unfairly based only on my age classification instead of being judged for me as a person, on my own merits.

I couldn’t help feeling resentment toward him. But, I never expressed it. I just held back emotionally when I was with him after that, at least for a time. Of course I eventually got over it (and in full disclosure, he did let me drive the family car), but for a time I was much less eager to go that extra mile to do things for him, share things with him, or be in his life.

Most of us have had the experience of being treated unfairly – or at lest of having has the perception of being treated unfairly. Resentment often follows- even if the offending person doesn’t realize it.

(Side-note: A few years ago I mentioned the car incident to my now very aged father. He had no recollection of it whatsoever).

We can talk about resentment as being the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge, yet it is there. It is the wall that becomes erected between people which blocks good feelings or love from being experienced.

Resentment often doesn’t rage or even scream. It often just sits there looking innocent as it smiles at you, but underneath it is boiling and stewing. It spends much time plotting revenge or getting even so think on getting a mouth guard. Eventually it destroys love. In intimate relationships, it often kills sexual desire.

We can imagine love as being in a bottle. Then, resentment is the cork that prevents love from getting or expressing itself.

Love may try to escape by sneaking around the cork, but at best, just a little will get out.

As you think back over your life, has resentment bottled up love you had for a relative, for a friend, a partner, a child, a sibling, a parent?

Examples:
You loan money to a close friend who doesn’t pay it back. Now that is all you think about when you see them or talk to them. Your good feelings toward that person are blocked.

You feel resentment toward your intimate partner whom you feel over controls you and your life. Suddenly you lose all sex desire for that partner and want to rebel against him or her.

You are your partner are living together and now it is time to buy a house. They make much more money that you do and want a pre-nuptial to protect themselves in case things don’ t work out. You are highly resentful that they don’t have more commitment to making it work.

As we teach in our anger management classes and explain in our workbook, dealing with the emotion of resentment is not easy for many reasons. It often involves sitting down and asking yourself what basis need is being blocked that is causing the resentment in the first place.

Then, the trick is communicate to the other person that you have the resentment, the reason you have it, and how you propose things get rectified or fixed. In short, talk about it instead of holding it in and suffering – or feeling guilty because you have the resentment in the first place.

It takes courage to do this sometimes, bu the payoff can be tremendous, as discussion often clears the air, relieves that pressure inside of you, and allows those love feeling to again flow.

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Anger Management As a Business- A Personal Journey

People often ask how I got into anger management. Actually, the truth is that ten years ago I was looking for a supplemental mental health business to my clinical practice that was cash-based, so I wouldn’t have to rely on unstable insurance payments for my livelihood, I found it necessary to acquire private health insurance.

As I recall. I was having coffee with a friend of mine who is a Bail Bondsman in Southern California, who deals with anger people every day. When I expressed my frustration with the insurance limits on my clinical practice, he said “why don’t you get into anger management?”

Somehow that resonated with me, even though I had never thought of it before, planning to get into home health care services. Seemed like it would fit my personality, fit my professional background as a psychologist, and would be good for the world.

And it would be a cash-based business.

I quickly discovered I could receive certification as an anger management facilitation by attending about 16 hours training by a leader in the field. (Interestingly, there are no state regulations for the practice of anger management) Of course, I was fully qualified under my psychologist license, bu the truth is you do not have to be professionally state licensed to do it. Visit http://ontarioexteriorsolutions.ca/ for more info .

After completing my certification training, I hired someone to put up a website for me which I named The Anger Coach. Very soon I received my first call from a local business owner who said he wanted to come in that afternoon with a cash payment for anger management for himself plus his two sons. explaining he said “If my two sons are so angry, they must getting it from somewhere so I need help too.”

At that point, I was encouraged, very excited, and I knew I was in business. For about two years I conducted classes several times a week, using the system in which I had been trained. But relationships became strained with mother ship. Another provider who was tethered to the same ship was having similar troubles, so we had lunch one day and decided to develop our own system of anger management which we thought would be a vast improvement over the system in which we had been trained.

Hence, Century Anger Managementwas born along with the client workbook Anger Management For The Twenty-first Century”

Our next step was to start training other people how to do it. This we started to do with much success. holding certification trainings through California. Then we added an online training so we could certify people in our system across the country and in other parts of the world.

At this point, we have certified hundreds of qualified people, including many military providers who use our system to help returning troops handle their emotions when back with their families. Our system is also used in many substance abuse rehabilitation facilities, correctional facilities, and faith-based community programs.

The personal reward value to all this has been tremendous. Anger Management has doubled my income over the last ten years and provides a great feeder into my private therapy practice. The success of our company also taught me that instead of complaining,stressing, and demanding, it is often much more productive to find a way to build a better mousetrap – at any age. (I was about 60 years old when all this started).

I still conduct local classes twice a week from which I get constant feedback from clients about their struggles in communicating with others and managing their anger. They tell me what works for them – and what doesn’t. I listen and often make changes to the system based on their feedback.

For instance, I am learning that having a partner attend a class or two greatly increases the success of the primary client. The system just works much better if both people understand it and are on board with it. The next step will be to find a way to make this happen on a regular basis; the challenge, of course, is that many times the partner does not see themselves as part of the problem!

I see another mousetrap in my future…….

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Anger Management Classes: How We Teach Empathy

Through he years, I have asked our anger management class participants what they expected class to be like before they actually came. Thought I’d share some of the responses I have received:

“Anger Management Class is like traffic school.”

“Like a support group therapy for angry people.”

“Full of convicts and criminals.”

“In anger management class people sit around and vent their anger.”

Truth is, anger management class, as we teach it, is just that – a class. It is not group therapy, most of the people are there because they want to be (i.e. NOT court-ordered), and we do not encourage venting anger in the class itself.

Hardly anybody is angry in anger management class itself. Instead, most clients are angry at someone else or they are in attendance because someone else thinks they are angry and needs help. Most often that “someone” is a relationship or employer.

In Anger Coach Programs, we teach the eight tools of anger control – one tool per class. For instance, one of the more popular tools for anger management is “empathy” or the ability to feel and see things from the perspective of other people.

Teaching clients how to be more empathetic to reduce anger begins with introducing and explaining the topic from a workbook that all participants are required to purchase. Often we start with this video:

Then, we give examples of how to think about empathy and the affect increased empathy can have on our feelings of anger. Almost everyone can think of examples of how their anger would decrease if they would just stop and think of how things look from the point of view of the other person.

The Empathy Grid:

The empathy grid is an excellent tool for you to start learning how to be more empathetic.

Print it out and practice using it. You will be amazed at how it will help you see things differently.

Remember: to have empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with the other person’s perceptions, feelings or behavior.

Instead, empathy merely conveys that you understand,see, and acknowledge their point of view.

Anger Management in Action: How Can I Be More Patient?

body language-angry young woman

Meet 25 year old Julia who came to our local anger management class for help with the question “How can I be more patient?”

Seems that Julia was constantly irritated with other people.She tried not to be, but her impatience and irritability constantly leaked out with her body language, her attitude, and her sarcasm.

She was not angry in the classical sense of the term- that is, she did not blow up, she did not yell, she did not explode. But she was constantly frustrated, she was often very stressed out, and she found herself almost always disappointed in people around her. This included co-workers as well as loved ones at home.

Inside her head she was saying to herself things like:

  • how can they be so stupid?
  • why they they do it right?
  • why can’t they think like I do?
  • Julia was very bright. She was also a very quick thinker, often two or three mental steps ahead of those around her.This made is difficult for her to be accepting of others who might not have been quite as mentally agile as her, or to tolerate people who had a different thinking style from hers.

    Julia’s problem has its roots in her expectations of people and things. Learning to recognize and adjust expectations is anger tool #6 in our system of anger management as is explained in detail in our anger management book titled “Anger Management for the Twenty-First Century.”

    The gap between what we expect and what we get creates many negative emotions including disappointment, anger, and chronic unhappiness. Learning to adjust expectations is a process which begins with being mindful of what are expectations are to begin with. Mindfulness involves becoming aware of what is occurring in your or body without judging it.

    Awareness without so much judgment is not easy because we live in a society in which we are constantly taught to judge things. Often we “should” ourselves to death throughout our lifespans – convinced that we “know” what is best, what he truth is, exactly how to do things, how others should be or live, etc.

    On the job, we get frustrated because employees don’t “own” their work or don’t buy into the company vision like we do as managers. Adjusting your expectations involves reminding yourself that if they saw things as you did, they would have YOUR job.

    Adjusting your expectations at home requires you to remember that much of what you get upset about involves opinions about how things “should” be – not absolute facts. Just because you believe something doesn’t automatically make it true; your partner may have an equally valid belief or opinion.

    As Julia learned these thought skills, she gradually did become more patient and less angry. She was able to accept that sometimes truth is a point of view, that others have a right to their opinions (even though they may be wrong), and that just because we want something or someone to be a certain way does not mean that they are that way, want to be that way, or that they necessarily even should be that way.

    Finally, Julie learned to accept that many people do indeed have limitations; that does not mean we should get angry at them because of their limitations. Yes, some people are indeed mentally slow, have an irritating personality, have limited skills to do things, have the wrong values in life, are lazy, etc etc. But, I ask, why get ANGRY over these things? Other response possibilities would include ignoring them,having compassion for them, helping them, giving them much more latitude, etc.

    Think about it! Feel free to leave a comment below.

    Anger Management in Action: Forgiving an Affair

    Jim and Mary had what appeared from the outside to be a good marriage. They met in Australia, but ten years later found themselves building a comfortable life in Southern California with 2 children,a mortgage, and stable careers in music.

    It was a Tuesday afternoon when Mary discovered that Jim had been having an affair for the last three years with his first love in high school She made the discovery accidentally while causally going through his cell phone texts when he was in the shower.

    As many partners would, Mary went ballistic, her anger and rage fueled by deep feelings of hurt and betrayal. For 12 hours straight she demanded that he tell her everything – every encounter they had, every sexual detail, every intimate thing he had told her about their marriage, etc.

    Anger Management would clearly be an essential component of any successful affair recovery process that Jim and Mary would undertake.

    While Jim was terrified of losing his family and his life as he knew it, managing her justified anger was Mary’s challenge. Because her ego and self-esteem were severely injured and trust in Jim had been shattered, she was sure she would never be able to forgive Jim for his behavior.

    As a consequence, she asked him to leave the house, a request he complied with after talking to his children. Jim was clearly a man slinking away from his previous life full of shame, guilt, and regret.

    In our local anger classes and in our online anger management program, we teach that forgiveness is often an essential tool of successful anger management. This was most certainly true of Mary.

    Therapy started by recommending two books to Mary, both written by Dr. Janice Abrams-Spring: After The Affair and How Can I Forgive You? In her later book, Genuine Forgiveness is reframed as an intimate dance, a hard-won transaction, which asks as much of the offender as it does of the hurt party.

    Following Dr. Spring’s recommendations, in therapy Jim learned how to perform bold, humble, heartfelt acts of repair to earn forgiveness, such as bearing witness to the pain he caused, delivering a meaningful apology, and taking responsibility for his offense. At the same time, Mary learned to release her obsessive preoccupation with the affair, to accept a fair share of responsibility for what went wrong, and to create opportunities for Jim to make good.

    An excellent book on sexuality and the meanings of marital infidelity “Mating in Captivity” written by Esther Perel was also recommended to the couple who found it quite helpful and enlightening.

    Jim and Mary made it – their marriage ultimately not only survived, but thrived. On Jim’s part, among many other things, he learned how to communicate much more assertively(another tool of anger management) to his wife instead of “stuffing” his feelings about things that bothered him. For her part, after learning to forgive her husband, she turned her attention to her sexual inhibitions and attitudes which had caused Jim much sexual frustration in their relationship.

    Anger Management and sex: When a cigar is just a cigar……..

    I first met Jim on a Friday morning in my office with his wife Sally. They consulted me for mostly because Jim seemed always irritated with Sally.

    No matter what she did, he was mad. He had no patience with her. She was ready to call it quits because she said she was tired of constantly having to “walk on eggshells” so that he wouldn’t explode.

    Understand that Jim was not a monster. He had his own business, was well thought of in his community and loved his wife. He said he couldn’t help himself when he exploded. He explained he was a simple man with simple needs and one of those needs just wasn’t being met.

    To put it bluntly, this 42 year old man was always horny.

    He was like a very thirsty man who had committed to only drinking from one well in the village and that well was getting pretty dry.

    Worse than being frustrated on a physical level, he also felt emotionally abandoned by his wife when she rejected him. These feelings he turned into anger and hostility, resulting in both blowups and a change in his perception of his wife’s behavior.

    That is, he saw everything that his wife did in a negative light when he was in this state. It was like she couldn’t even breath right!

    The more this continued, the more stubborn she became (“why should I have sex with him when he treats met hat way?”) resulting in even more sexual rejection and frustration.

    In session,however, for the first time Sally actually listened to and “got” the extent of her husband’s pain around sexual deprivation and frustration. Right then and there she decided to try and change her attitude – and to do something about the problem.

    Three weeks later the couple returned with big smiles on their faces. Seems that Sally decided to make a trip to their local “naughty lady” store and…the rest is history, as they say.

    In response to feeling loved, Jim’s attitude changed drastically. So did his level of anger.

    Some may think that this sounds shallow or simplistic. But, my experience as a marital therapist is that sometimes solutions to relationship problems aren’t as complicated as one might imagine.

    Even the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, said when asked for what his deep-seated motives were for doing something: “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” While vaporizers are not!

    Likewise, sometimes partners get angry in a relationship because their basic needs (like sex) are not being met.

    Couples who do not satisfy each other’s needs soon begin to drift apart.

    Be mindful of your relationship. Do you and your partner focus on satisfying each other’s needs as best you can?

    More on how to do that in my online course or in my local anger classes.

    Look for the next blog: If sex is a top need for many men, what do you think is a top need for many woman?

    Was Jesus Ever Angry?

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all readers. I write this from lovely Sante Fe, New Mexico while looking our at the majestic mountains and thinking about life and the role of anger in our lives. Then, I came across this article. while surfing the net. Although we do not teach anger management from a faith-based perspective, the following is excellent. clear, and is very much consistent with the tools of anger management that we do teach in our programs.

    Enjoy…..be mindful of these points during the coming year, and lead your life putting anger in its proper perspective.

    The following article is copied from the website http://www.gotquestions?org with permission to do so with proper attribution. Please visit their site if you have further questions on this topic.

    Question: “Was Jesus ever angry?”

    Answer: When Jesus cleared the temple of the moneychangers and animal-sellers, He showed great emotion and anger (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22). Jesus’ emotion was described as “zeal” for God’s house (John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship. Because these were at stake, Jesus took quick and decisive action. Another time Jesus showed anger was in the synagogue of Capernaum. When the Pharisees refused to answer Jesus’ questions, “He looked around at them in anger, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts” (Mark 3:5).

    Many times, we think of anger as a selfish, destructive emotion that we should eradicate from our lives altogether. However, the fact that Jesus did sometimes become angry indicates that anger itself, as an emotion, is amoral. This is borne out elsewhere in the New Testament. Ephesians 4:26 instructs us “in your anger do not sin” and not to let the sun go down on our anger. The command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner. We note the following facts about Jesus’ displays of anger:

    1) His anger had the proper motivation. In other words, He was angry for the right reasons. Jesus’ anger did not arise from petty arguments or personal slights against Him. There was no selfishness involved.

    2) His anger had the proper focus. He was not angry at God or at the “weaknesses” of others. His anger targeted sinful behavior and true injustice.

    3) His anger had the proper supplement. Mark 3:5 says that His anger was attended by grief over the Pharisees’ lack of faith. Jesus’ anger stemmed from love for the Pharisees and concern for their spiritual condition. It had nothing to do with hatred or ill will.

    4) His anger had the proper control. Jesus was never out of control, even in His wrath. The temple leaders did not like His cleansing of the temple (Luke 19:47), but He had done nothing sinful. He controlled His emotions; His emotions did not control Him.

    5) His anger had the proper duration. He did not allow His anger to turn into bitterness; He did not hold grudges. He dealt with each situation properly, and He handled anger in good time.

    6) His anger had the proper result. Jesus’ anger had the inevitable consequence of godly action. Jesus’ anger, as with all His emotions, was held in check by the Word of God; thus, Jesus’ response was always to accomplish God’s will.

    When we get angry, too often we have improper control or an improper focus. We fail in one or more of the above points. This is the wrath of man, of which we are told “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (James 1:19-20). Jesus did not exhibit man’s anger, but the righteous indignation of God.
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    Angry Mothers: Learn Mindfulness. Then Teach It To Your Children!

    Copy of assertive-arm and hand movements angry woman

    The Problem
    “I can’t deal with my own children,” lamented a young mother in one of our anger management classes.“They won’t listen, they do exactly what they want, they constantly fight with each other, and they won’t do their chores without a major argument.”

    This young mother was ashamed that she was constantly angry at her own children. In response to their behavior, she would yell at them, call them names, and make empty threats of horrible consequences for non-compliance.But these responses did not seem to work; in fact, it made things worse as the children developed resentment and increased defiance toward their screaming mother.

    The Solution As in an airline emergency, first put the oxygen mask on yourself. Then, put the oxygen mask on your children. You can’t expect your children to show good coping skills. and to handle stress well if you are impaired yourself.

    Start by learning and then teaching mindfulness. to your children. It is amazingly simple, yet very effective over time. It helps mothers first deal with their own stress and anger and then gives her tools to teach to their children so that they can generally cope better with life. The positive effects of mindfulness has much science behind it and has many applications for both children and adults.

    Mindfulness can be many things, but at its core, it is the skill of learning to focus on our present thoughts, feelings and body sensations without judgement. Many people associate this with meditation, but meditation is only one path to achieve mindfulness. It is very useful for relaxation, but it is much more than that. For children, it helps them become more attentive, balanced, and aware. For some, it has the potential to help kids see their lives more clearly, to become more positive and less tired, and to chose appropriate life paths.Learn more about this on CPR Classes Tampa.

    As a first step toward helping our stressed client deal with her own stress, we taught her various tools of anger control. As a starter, we introduced the concept of mindful meditation consisting of simple breathing exercises. Mindfulness helps both mother and child calm down, to re-focus on what is important, to become more reflective, and to perhaps teach both to respond in different ways to family stress. Research shows that mindful practices over time increase “emotional intelligence” in children as they better understand how their brain works and how to develop more self-control with that knowledge.

    Following are some simple breathing meditations that mother and child can practice together, taken from a book called “The Mindful Child” by Susan Kaiser Greenland :

    Counting 1-1-1-1-1-1. When you breath in, let your body relax. When you breath out, silently count one, one, one, until your lungs feel empty. Repeat by relaxing again as you inhale and silently counting two, two, two, two, two, as you exhale. Repeat once more by relaxing as you inhale again and silently counting three, three,three, three, for the entire out breath. Continue this exercise in sets of three breaths (counting 1 on the first exhale, 2 on the second, and 3 on the third), until your mind quiets and you can rest in the physical sensation of breathing without counting.

    When teaching this to your child, be aware that it takes time for them to accept the idea. Don’t force the issue, or another power struggle may develop, making things worse. For younger children, you may have to start with a 1 minute exercise, then gradually expand the time as your child progresses and sees the benefit. Don’t force them to close their eyes; some people prefer to keep eyes open.

    The actress Goldie Hawn has written a delightful book on mindfulness called “10 Mindful Minutes.” which I would recommend to all parents. Among the wise nuggets of information is the followng: “Mindful parenting involves recognizing and nurturing our children’s unique personalities and not seeing them as projections of ourselves. There’s simply no cookie-cutter standard for how to treat our children.”

    In our anger management classes we teach parents to respond instead of react to the behavior of our children that is troublesome. Hawn, in her book, amplifies this approach by saying that “reactive parenting can be very detrimental for our children. Yelling at them for forgetting something or doing something we don’t like only frightens them – it doesn’t make them stop.” We can gain control over our anger by understanding that our higher thinking has been hijacked by our emotional state; hence, we’re no longer in control.”

    Once parents learn to respond differently to their children – not just react in knee-jerk fashion- the next step is to teach their children the same. Children need to understand how their brain works and how to deal with anger and frustration that all people experience. Hawn explains this simply as follows: “The anger and frustration that we feel in such moments is simply our Guard Dog amygdala {section of the brain} responding to the perceived stressful situation and taking over our emotions. Once we understand this, we can learn to recognize when we’ve been hijacked and accept that the path back to clear thinking is mindful awareness. ….”

    In summary, a mindful approach to parenting quiets the minds of both parent and child, reduces stress, and puts both of you more in control of your emotions. Doesn’t that sound better than living in a family with constant yelling, screaming, negativism, and fighting?

    Anger Management in Action: Increase Your Emotional Intelligence

    I have listened for over 30 years to couples fighting in couples therapy. This includes dating couples, newlyweds and couples that have been conflicting for 50 years, still trying to understand each other and relate to each other. Why so much conflict between people who  truly love each other – or used to?

    While it is obviously complicated, most unresolved conflicts remain unresolved because people use logic only to solve the issue rather than understanding that it is emotions- not just logic- that determine our behavior, get us so upset at each other and motivate us to change. To influence behavior , motivation(emotions) has to come first, then information (logic).

    In my experience, many peopke do not care what you know until they know that you care! A person has to be OPEN to listening to what you are saying, or your words will fall on deaf ears. 

    Having understanding of this concept can make you very bright……that is, it will give you high emotional intelligence.

    What is emotional intelligence and how will it help your relationship?

    Emotional intelligence (EI), as used here,  is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, and understand the emotions of your partner and how you should respond to elicit cooperativeness instead of rebellion from your partner.  It is a crucial skill to have in relationships because, in my experience, it is nearly impossible to solve an emotionally based argument with logic alone without dealing with the emotions  lurking beneath.

    As proof this, remember the 1996 movie, “The Break-up” starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn? In the “wash the dishes” scene, Jennifer’s character (Brooke) asks Vince’s cahracter (Gary) to help her wash the  dishes after a dinner party. He resists. She insists. He relents but with an attiitude and says “all right, I’ll help you with the dishes” to which Jennifer gets angry because of his attitude. Gary then says, What’s wrong? I told you I’d help you with the dishes” Brooke then says: “I want you to want to help me with the dishes.”

    Gary, like many partners, had no clue as to what was happening. So, he replied: “Who (in their right mind) would want to do dishes” ?

    And on it goes. Neither could understand the other or why the other was so upset. Neither could understand why the other was so uncooperative. Both initiated in each other patterns of responding in their brains (neural circuits) which were pretty much beyond their control at the time they were occurring.

    The problem escalated because neither could respond effectively to their partner at a time when the proper response would have de-activated the whole thing. 

    Emotional intelligence is a set of skills to elicit cooperativeness from your partner-  at a time when your partner is being the most uncooperative. It is a set of skills to influence your partner’ s level of cooperativeness through your responses to their behavior rather than responding on automatic pilot as you may have done in the past.

    This is not easy to do because we are wired (in our brains) to respond in certain ways to other people, including our partners. Too, when we are upset with our partner, we usually think that the solution to the problem is for THEM to change their behavior.  However, those with emotional intelligence skills understand that you can also get your partner to change sometimes by modifying how YOU respond to what they do. This may have immediate impact on them and on the argument. In fact, it may stop the argument dead in its tracks. It may also impact how your partner behaves in the future.

    In our example, if Gary had hugged Brooke and acknowledged  her for all her work in preparing the meal, can you imagine there may have been a different outcome? If Brooke had responded to Gary’s refusal in a less hostile way, would that have made a difference? Maybe. The odds certainly would have improved.

    Successful couples sometimes experiment and try different ways of responding to each other until they find a way to “fine-tune” their communication and learn to interact with each other to elicit cooperativeness instead of defiance, rebellion, or passive-aggression.

    Being mindfulness of the affect that your response is going to have on your partner is another skill of emotional intelligence that should be practiced daily- but only by those who want a more peaceful and less conflictual relationship!

    Emotional intelligence skills are central to our approach to both anger management and couples therapy. Two of the most important emotional intelligence skill that we teach are empathy and social awareness. To learn more, we suggest:angrcoach or angecoachonline.com

    Do You Display Defensive Anger? Three New Strategies to Deal with Verbal Attacks!

    Doc, the new client said, I am not an angry guy. I only get angry when people piss me off. The rest of the time I am fine

    This humorous interchange occurs often in our anger management classes. We gently explain that, of course, it is much easier to stay calm and rational when nobody is attacking us, when nobody challenges us or yells at us, or when nobody accuses us of things we didn’t do. On the other hand, anger and frustration are normal human emotions to experience when we are justly or unjustly  criticized, when we feel disrespected, when people treat us with contempt or when others are raging at us for any number of reasons.

    Anger management is partly the trick of not taking the bait – of not dealing with an attack with more anger or hostility on your part. This is NOT to say that we should always just be passive by smiling and taking it. To the contrary, rather than yelling back, insulting with verbal abuse, threatening things you will never do, or bringing up every sin you can think of the other has committed in the past, you can use  much more effective strategies to  defend yourself.

    Strategy 1- Take a time out and cool down. This is tool # 8 in our anger management program. It means NOT dealing with it at the moment when things are so heated up. Deal with the issue later when both of you are more calm. This does not mean you should avoid the issue: quite to the contrary, it means to deal with it, but at a better time.

    Strategy 2- Calmly but firmly stand-up to the angry person while setting  boundaries and limits. . This means to let them know you will no longer tolerate their abusive anger and that the relationship will be severely injured if they continue. Some angry people only calm down when they are with someone who stands up to them; this is because they secretly despise what they perceive as weakness. I have seen many husbands, for instance, morph from lions to lambs when the the hands of a woman with a stronger personality than them who simply will not put up with their verbal abuse. These raging men do not want to lose the relationship so they are willing to do almost anything to save it.

    Strategy 3- Stop Being a “Peace at any price” person. A peace at any price person believes that they should keep things peaceful at any cost, even to their self-esteem, their pride, or their self-respect. These people often find themselves with very angry partners who remain angry even though they do every thing humanly possible to stay out of trouble and avoid fights. The strategy here is to be more up front about things that bother you, before resentment builds and you explode over some trivial event. Some things just have to be dealt with and not avoided. Paradoxically, dealing with the issue in the moment sometimes decreases anger in your partner. Rather than making things worse, sometimes it improves things, especially if you let them know how you feel about the issue and how it is affecting you.

    These three strategies are very powerful in dealing with defensive anger either in relationships or in other life situations.  You can learn more by enrolling in our online anger course or our online marriage education program.