Anger Class 101: Silence is an Anger Management Tool

They say that silence is golden.

Tell that to Sally and Jim who argue constantly and fight like cats and dogs over almost every issue. Both are highly successful, intelligent and verbal so there is no end to issues over which to fight. If perchance they do run out of issues temporarily, they creatively start fighting about fighting. They need anger class 101.

Let’s listen to the dialogue for a moment:
with one accusing the other of being unfair or talking “with that sneer of yours,” or “shouting at me.” while the other insists they are not shouting.

As a couples therapist, and someone who has conducted over 1000 anger classes in Southern California and a calgary naturopath, I sometimes want to say to one or the other: “Why don’t you just keep your mouth shut so avoid an argument? Partners often inflame each other, escalate anger, and talk themselves into major fights which could easily be avoided with the practice of temporary silence. This is known as the tool of “Retreat and Think Things over” in out system of anger management.

As Lao Tzu is quoted as having said:
“Silence is a Source of Great Strength.”

But, back to Sally and Jim who continue the argument:

Yes, Jim says, but I am right and she knows that I am right, so why should I silence myself?” “The restaurant WAS where I said it was – NOT where she kept insisting (wrongly) it was located.”

“Oh Lord, It is so hard to be humble when you are perfect in every way”
…….Mack Davis song, 1980

Know anyone who ALWAYS has to be right, like Jim? Not only do they always have to be right, they have an irrepressible urge to point out when they factually know that you are wrong. So,like Jim, they correct you, contradict you, argue with you, contest everything you say, and then later remind you that “I told you so” if there is any evidence that you are wrong and they were right.

The frustrating thing is, often these people ARE right, or partiality right as http://stridestrong.com says. But, few important issues in the world are about absolute right or absolute wrong. They are about shades of each. Only very rigid people divide the world into absolute rights or absolute wrongs. Partial truths often drive arguments because of mis-communication or misunderstanding.

“Black and White People” vs “Gray” people.

“Black and white” people see the world in absolutes. It is either this way or that way. “Gray” people see in between possibilities, and understand that “truth” or “reality” in many cases is a matter of perception..not a matter of fact. Often, “black and white” people marry “gray” people and the fight is on.

Some common examples: Jim sees wife Mary as stubborn and unbending. She sees herself as morally right, principled, and duty-bound to do things Jim does not agree with. As another example, Mary sees Jim as lazy, not ambitious, and negligent in his household duties. Jim sees himself as evolving to the place in life where he can enjoy life, have fun with the kids, and generally appreciate his good health and financial freedom.

Who is right and who is wrong in these examples? Honestly, is your experience that the world most people live in is black and white, or do most issues fall in the gray area?

Four ways to deal with a partner who sees the world differently than you do.

1.LET IT GO.
For some people, it is part of their personality and their ego. They cannot stand not to be right, correct an injustice, or make sure you know the right way to do things. It validates them and makes them feel good about themselves to be right and to prove you wrong. You should not be around a person like this unless you are super-secure. Let them be right in their own minds, if they have to. Let it go! (Most times). If they swear it is noon; calmly show them a clock showing it is 1pm. Do you want to learn more? Then just click here and read the website.

2. AGREE TO DISAGREE
On many issues in a relationship (research shows 69%), you are never going to agree anyway. So, agree to disagree and don’t bring the subject up unless the “house is on fire.” (or unless it is really doing damage to someone)

3. SEPARATE IN YOU REMIND THE ISSUE FROM WHO YOUR PARTNER REALLY IS. Personally, I like many people even though they are diametrically opposed to things I truly believe in. If you get irritated over one slice of behavior displayed by your partner, try to see him or her as a total person.

4. DON’T TALK AN ISSUE TO DEATH TRYING TO PERSUADE YOUR PARTNER OF ITS TRUTH OR YOUR RIGHTNESS. Sometimes the more it is talked about, the worse it gets. Let the issue get some rest. MAybe it will recover sooner.

Are You An Anger Hypocrite?

There are many definitions of a hypocrite, but the one that I wish to discuss in this blog is a person who professes one thing but does another. The hypocrite imposes standards on others to which his or her own behavior does not comply.

The Anger Hypocrite
One specific type of hypocrite that I often see in my couples work is what I call the anger hypocrite.

Simply explained, the anger hypocrite expects their partner not to lose anger control while they themselves rage uncontrollably and rarely control their own anger, frustration or displeasure. The anger hypocrite justifies their behavior by convincing themselves that their anger is a normal reaction to the horrible behavior displayed by their partner.

But, when you stop and think about it, is it fair to expect more of your partner than you deliver? Put in another realm, if you and your partner are both alcoholics and both agree to stop drinking, would you expect him/her to stop drinking while you continued (and then become upset when they drink)? Or, is it fair to demand financial responsibility from your partner if you are a spendthrift or don’t stick to an agreed upon budget? Preaching one thing but doing another spells hypocrisy, doesn’t it? Continue reading “Are You An Anger Hypocrite?”

Assaulted Teacher But Walks Free

Recent Article in news.com.au
“A SYDNEY school student has avoided a custodial sentence for choking a female teacher in a classroom, after a court found he was deeply remorseful.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty at Bidura Children’s Court to assaulting the teacher at Randwick Boys High School on June 19 this year.

The 24-year-old woman was treated in hospital for severe swelling and bruising to her neck, chest and hand.

The boy was originally charged with attempted murder but that was later downgraded to assault on a school staff member occasioning actual bodily harm, which carries a maximum seven year custodial sentence.

Magistrate Paul Mulroney today imposed an 18-month suspended control order on the boy on the provision he undertake education and counselling via the juvenile justice system.

Mr Mulroney said he would not impose a custodial sentence due to the remorse shown by the boy.

He said there was “no interest” in the boy being placed in custody.

“It clearly will not provide any lesson. It seems that many of the lessons he needs to learn have already been learnt,” he said.

“There is considerable evidence that (the boy) feels very deep remorse for what he has done.”

Mr Mulroney said the boy had previously been the victim of “excessive physical discipline” from members of his family and at the time of the attack was also under psychological stress because of family issues.

He accepted an expert report that the teacher was “unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time” on a day that the boy was feeling “considerable rage and anger”.

The boy is an active member of the Hillsong Church and is now undertaking distance education and is a realistic chance of attending university, the court was told.

Mr Mulroney, however, ordered the conviction be formally recorded to show the seriousness of the crime, adding that teachers needed protection in their workplace.

An apprehended violence order is also imposed for the same 18-month period, preventing the boy from going near his victim. “

Road Rage to Work Sets Negative Tone For Day

A new survey puiblished by CareerBuilder.com confirms what we have suspected for a long time: most commuters admit to experiencing road rage while traveling to and from work.

This may include yelling, horn-honking, and hand gestures which give your estimation of the IQ of the other driver!

The survey, based on more than 2200 workers from June 6th-June 16th, 2006, showed that 59% of workers said they had road rage during their commute.

This frustration and anger obviously sets a negative tone for the work day and causes 20% of workers to say that they would take a job with a pay cut in exchange for a shorter distance between their home and their workplace.

Rather than arriving at your workplace upset and stessed, try the following tactics to reduce your angry feelings:

1. Give yourself more commute time. Leaving 15 minutes earlier can save a lot of stress.

2. Ignore bad drivers on the road. You may become upset because of your expectations of the drivers – try to accept that some people are just bad, rude, or inconsiderate drivers.

3. Don’t take bad driving by others personally. It has nothing to do with you as a person.

4. Try to shift your attention elsewhere. Listen to music or to talk radio.

Michael Richards- An Angry Man

Michael Richard claims that his recent rant in response to hecklers at his night club act was about anger…not racism. He said later on the Dave Letterman Show that he went into a “rage” which he couldn’t explain.

This is very believable to us (the racism issue aside) as we hear similar stories from many of our anger management participants. Most of the time they are perfectly nice people but sometimes get “triggered” by something that brings out a flurry of anger.

We teach that this is due mostly to a brain structure called the amygdala which records and stores raw emotions – including anger and fear. The amygdala is part of the reptilian brain and when stressed is activated before the “thinking” part of our brain is….making it easy for your brain to be ‘hijacked” by negative emotion.

Many people need anger management training to develop the skills needed to manage these negative emotions which seem to emerge out of nowhere – before they get out of hand and have the potential to wreck a family, a job, or, in Richards’ case, possibly a career.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to unring a bell – once the explosion occurs, it can ruin a lifetime of good deeds.

For a list and desciption of the core eight anger management tools needed to prevent this form happening, click here .