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Want to feel less angry toward your partner? Create Couple Bubble

Want to feel less angry toward your partner? While almost all couples get angry at each other, research shows that this does not necessarily mean that your relationship is in trouble. The trouble comes from not knowing the root of the anger, how to deal with that anger, how to communicate it, and how to dissipate it.

THE COUPLE BUBBLE
Successful couples have learned to deal with it by making sure they have around them something called a “Couple Bubble”- sort of a protective shield, a dome, which surrounds them and insulates them from outside stresses which can potentially harm, erode. or destroy their relationship.

Most people are in an intimate relationship because of the deep emotional connection between them which satisfies emotional, social and perhaps economic needs. Without the emotional connection(or attachment as psychologists call it) there is little benefit to being in a relationship, economic or social aspects aside.

In his book, “wired for love,” author Tatkin writes that the first guiding principal of a successful couple is that of creating that “couple bubble” which allows partners to keep each other safe and secure.

He maintains that each partner’s job is to be unapologetically yourself as a long as you also keep your partner safe.

SOME THINGS ARE HARD-WIRED IN OUR BRAIN
How we attach to our partners is probably determined (hard-wired) during our formative years as we interact with our primary caregivers. In some ways this never changes. In other ways we all change. Both are true, says Tatkin. And that is why acceptance is so important. We can and do change our attitudes, our behaviors, and even our brains over time. However, the fundamental wiring that takes place during our earliest experiences stays with us from cradle to grave.

If you or your partner are often in conflict or are constantly angry at each other, chances are good that underneath the anger are other emotions that create insecurity in one or both of you, puncturing that “couple bubble” emotional connection that both of you want. Successful couples realize and accept that insecurity in themselves and their partner comes from earlier life experiences, and they do everything they can to lesson that insecurity by strengthening their couple bubble.

The way to strengthen that couple bubble and to move your relationship from insecure to secure is NOT by instilling fear (bullying), duress (adding stress), disapproval (being overly critical) or threatening abandonment.

Instead, what works much better is to increase honesty, acceptance, high regard, respect, devotion, support and safety. Easier said than done when you and you partner are in mortal battle with each other.

SOME PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS
Here are practical ways to create and maintain your “Couple Bubble” before you wake up on day sadly to discover that it is in danger of bursting:

1. In your daily life think “we” instead of “I” or “me.” Before making decisions, scheduling activities, OR changing routines, ask yourself “is this good for the relationship?” If not, consider not doing it, even though you would like to personally. Not that you should always do this- sometimes you should do what is best for you- just not always.

2. Schedule and maintain “rituals” that are unique to your relationship. Rituals around food (“we always dine together on Tuesdays and Fridays”, for instance), departing rituals, greeting rituals, communication rituals (for instance,”we never call each other names”).

3. Establish agreements on who does what around the house. DO NOT take it for granted that you both agree on who should do what.

4. Do not allow your children to drive a wedge between you, especially in blended family situations. Discuss parenting issues and practices WITH EACH OTHER first, then with the children.

5. Do not undermine your partner by revealing intimate issues to relatives, parents, friends etc. Behave in a way that your partner can always trust you and not have to worry about emotional betrayal of any kind.

6. Have agreements on spending money (or not spending it) so that, again, a bond of trust is there.

In summary, the stronger your Couple Bubble, the better your relationship will be able to withstand the many forces that are constantly piercing and then destroying it. Remember that both of you will feel much safer, and thus secure with each other, if you know that you have each other’s back!

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?”

Anger Management in Action; Setting Realistic Expectations

How high should you set the bar for yourself or others in term of what you expect?

This was a recent discussion topic brought up by Robert in a recent fast-track anger management seminar that we held in Newport Beach, California. Set the bar too high and the gap between what you expect and what you get can cause disappointment, anger, and other undesirable emotions.

Yet, hope springs eternal, especially in regard to family members.

We can spend our whole lives hoping against hope that others will finally change, see the light, treat us better, or acknowledge us in the way we need to be acknowledged.

Yet, as Robert discovered, sometimes this is not to be, despite our best efforts and our noble intent. Robert is 65 years old, yet has almost daily angst over his relationship with his 90 year old father who lives in the Midwest. They talk to each other perhaps 3 times a year, with Robert always having to initiate the calls. His dad says “children should call parents; parents do not have to call children.”

In his dad’s mind that is just a fact, the way the world is. This rule of family interaction is written in a book somewhere, known only to parents.

Despite a lifetime of not being able to emotionally connect with each other, Robert decided enough was enough and made arrangements for him and his wife to visit his father this summer. He emailed the old man, asking if the visit dates were satisfactory. Robert had expectations that his Dad would be thrilled to get a visit (at 90 years old, one doesn’t want to wait too long). He also asked for hotel recommendations nearby.

The father’s response was two lines: “Those dates are OK. Will send you a list of hotels to your home address.” The coldness of it all made Robert’s head reel. Robert experienced immediate sadness, and frustration. These feelings “pulled up” a lifetime of memories of other similar encounters with his father that generated the same negative feelings. Continue reading “Anger Management in Action; Setting Realistic Expectations”

Six Parental Tips For Your Angry Children

It was labor day when 8 year old Brandon’s mother heard a commotion from her child’s room. Seems that his 14 year old visiting cousin said something that upset Brandon which caused Brandon to strike the other boy. His mother Michelle hysterically called her therapist wondering what to do and how to handle the anger in her young son which seemed to be escalating as he became older.

Her therapist wisely explained that children become angry in a variety of situations. Common causes of childhood anger include: frustration, needing attention, feeling powerless, being misunderstood, not feeling good about themselves, feeling helpless, being belittled or made fun of, not having physical needs taken care of, having a parent take over instead of asking if the child wants help, being disappointed, having difficulty saying what they need, or being punished.

The problem of excessive childhood anger is growing. Yet many parents—like Michelle—feel they don’t have the tools to teach their children how to deal with normal angry feelings in an appropriate manner, without hitting or yelling at others, or losing control. Therefore, some parents ineffectively deal with their child’s anger by demanding that he or she stop being angry. Worse, some parents actually yell at or hit their child in attempts to “teach” their child not to be angry. That is like putting them alone in the woods unarmed with a raging black bear to teach them not to be fearful!

Alternatively, good parenting requires teaching children the practical skills needed for anger control. Although feeling angry is a part of life that no one can avoid because it is “hardwired” in our brains as a protective and survival mechanism, we can teach our children positive ways to cope with these normal angry feelings. Learning the tools of anger management empowers children, makes them more effective and pleasant human beings, and improves the world by decreasing hatred, violence and conflict.

Following are six tips for parents to help their children manage anger with the help of aberdovey lifeboat, based on our model of anger management called the eight tools of anger control”: Continue reading “Six Parental Tips For Your Angry Children”

Anger Management In Action: Relationship Blowups Can Be Costly

Conflict 10“Dr. Fiore,” the voice on the phone pleaded, “I need anger management classes right away. I blew up at my girlfriend last night and she said it’s over until I get help”.

As Kevin recounted the first night of anger management class, he and his girlfriend had argued in the car over which route to take home from a party. Events progressed from mild irritation, to yelling and name calling.

Things escalated at home. He tried to escape, but she followed him from room to room, demanding resolution of the conflict. He became angry, defensive and intimidating. he had not yet learned anger management skills.

Frightened, she left. Later, she left an anguished message saying that she loved him, but couldn’t deal with his angry, hurtful outbursts.

Kevin said that he normally is a very “nice” and friendly person. But, on this occasion, his girlfriend had been drinking before the party. In his view, she was irrational, and non-stop in criticism. He tried oxiracetam to reason with her, but it just made things worse. Finally, as Kevin saw things, in desperation he “lost it” and became enraged.

How should Kevin have handled this situation? What could he have done differently? What anger management skills would have helped? What actions should you take in similar situations?

Continue reading “Anger Management In Action: Relationship Blowups Can Be Costly”

Anger Management In Action: Forgiveness.Let the Past Go

 

Struggling with resentment
Struggling with resentment

Thirty-two year old Elizabeth cried during her anger management class as she related how one year ago her 19-month-old girl was permanently brain-damaged as the result of medical error at the hospital in which she was delivered.

She definitely had a legitimate grievance toward the hospital and the medical staff and felt that she could never forgive them for what she saw as their incompetence. She clearly was not yet ready to forgive—and she needed her simmering anger to motivate her to do what she felt she needed to do legally and otherwise to deal with this horrific situation.

Yet, even in this tragic situation, at some point in the future—when she is ready—Elizabeth might elect to find a way to forgive. For her to be able to do this, after a certain amount of time, she will have to take the step of separating in her mind two things: (1) blaming the hospital for what they did and (2) blaming them for her resulting feelings about the situation.

Elizabeth cannot change what was done to her daughter, but she can change her current feelings about it and she can change how she lives the rest of her life. If she continues to hold an intense grievance, she is giving all the power to what happened in the past to determine her present emotional well being—almost like being victimized again while remaining in her emotional prison.

Should you forgive?
The answer to this question always comes down to personal choices and decisions. Some people in our anger management classes feel that certain things cannot and shouldn’t be forgiven while other participants feel that ultimately anything can be forgiven.

As an example of what is possible, the staff of the Stanford Forgiveness Project successfully worked with Protestant and Catholic families of Northern Ireland whose children had been killed by each other. Using the techniques taught by the Stanford group, these grieving parents were able to forgive and get on with their lives.

On the other hand, Dr. Abrams-Spring who wrote a classic book called “After The Affair,” cautions that forgiving a cheating partner too quickly or too easily can be an indication of your low self-esteem. In her view, forgiveness must be earned by the offending partner and not given automatically.

As you struggle with your decision to forgive or not (and remember – it is a decision), keep in mind that recent studies show that there are measurable benefits to forgiveness.

Two reasons to forgive:

  • Forgiving Is Good For Your Health. Studies show that people who forgive report fewer health problems while people who blame others for their troubles have a higher incidence of illness such as cardiovascular disease and cancers.
  • Forgiving is good for your peace of mind. Scientific research shows that Forgiveness often improves your peace of mind: One such study done in 1996 showed that the more people forgave those who deeply hurt them, the less angry they were. Two studies of divorced people show that those who forgave the former spouse were more emotionally healthy than those who chose not to forgive with Service Dog Vest. The forgivers had a higher sense of well being and lower anxiety and depression.

Three tips to forgive

It is common for angry people to think, “I want to forgive and I know I should, but I don’t know how.”

  • Tip 1- Remember, forgiveness is a process that takes time and patience to complete. You must be ready. Realize that this is for you – not for anyone else.
  • Tip 2- Realize that forgiving does not mean you are condoning the actions of the offender or what they did to you. It does mean that you will blame less and find a way to think differently about what happened to you.
  • Tip 3- Refocus on the positives in your life. Remember that a lift well lived is the best revenge. People who find a way to see love, beauty and kindness around them are better able to forgive and get past their life grievances.

More tips on how to handler resentment in our book. Click below

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Anger Management In Action: Three ways to Deal With A Passive-Aggressive

body language-angry young woman

Thirty-three year old Roberto had promised his wife Tina that he would be home after work in time for her to attend her weekly “women’s group” at her church. Having only one automobile, Tina was completely at the mercy of Roberto’s promise.

You guessed it! Roberto did not show up until 8:45 PM—way too late for Tina to attend her meeting. Rather than being apologetic, however, Roberto explained to Tina (who was outraged at this point) that he “couldn’t help it” because “I had to help a friend out who’s car had broken down”. He lamented “How could I let Michael down? He was best man at our wedding”.

Was Tina being unreasonable in her anger? After all, Roberto was helping out a mutual friend. Yet, looking deeper into this situation, turns out that Roberto really didn’t want Tina to attend those meetings because it was “putting ideas into her head”.

Yet, he couldn’t just forbid Tina from attending, so he handled the situation in an underhanded way—sabotaging her attendance in a way that would still make him look good.

After all, he could argue, what reasonable person would get mad at someone who was late because he was helping out a friend?

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The anatomy of passive-aggression
Passive-Aggression is a psychological mechanism for handling hostility or anger in an underhanded or devious way that is hard for others to prove like how to lose weight fast. Sometimes the passive-aggressive is aware of what he or she is doing, and other times not.

Yet, the result is the same—things are sabotaged by the passive-aggressive and it somehow is never their fault. A really good passive aggressive is very slippery with excuses, justifications, or alternative reasons for why things go awry.

Passive-Aggression may not be expressed directly in behavior—but in words or humor. Sarcasm which communicates hostility is often a tool of the passive-aggressive person, as are jokes made at your expense.

Some common examples of passive-aggressive behavior:

    When conversing with someone who is angry at you, they leave out important information which gives you the wrong impression.
    Talking behind the back of a co-worker in a harmful way—gossiping.
    Exaggerating the faults of your spouse (behind his or her back) to your parents while maintaining “sweetness” toward your spouse.
    Playing dumb or inadequate to frustrate someone or gain advantage.
    Upset with your wife’s weight, you “affectionately” call her “pork chop” in public in a way that appears playful on the surface.

Dealing with passive-aggressive behavior is extremely challenging because a really good passive aggressive is very slippery.

Often, too, you may not be sure if you have been the victim of passive-aggressive behavior—or not. You may be feeling angry and upset, but not sure why or if it is justified.

How do you tell? One way to identify it is to look for patterns in someone’s behavior— not just isolated incidents. For instance, if Roberto generally is dependable and is home on time for Tina to attend her meetings, the one “miss” may not be motivated by passive-aggression. However, if he often sabotages Tina’s attendance while denying he is doing so, a behavior pattern is evident.

Another way to tell is to catch someone in a lie or inconsistency in stories. Explains thing one way now and another way later after he or she forgets what they told you in the first place.

Finally, match their words with their actions. If they don’t match (says one thing but does something else), or the person uses constant excuses or justifications for their behavior which don’ t add up inyour mind, consider that you are in the hands of a passive-aggressive person.

What should you do to deal with passive-aggression once you have identified it?

Tip #1- Directly confront the behavior and ask if the person is angry at you. For instance, ask “You called me pork chop tonight. Do you have issues with my weight?”

Tip #2. Be on guard and don’t trust what the person says or commits to. Develop a Plan B. For instance, Tina could have arranged for someone else to pick her up for the meeting in case Roberto didn’t make it home on time.

Tip #3. Use assertive communication skills to let a person know how what they do affects you and makes you feel. Try something like “I heard you repeat something that I told you in confidence. That really hurt me; please don’t do.

For news and more about events, event planners and more, visit JugglingInferno.com.

For more on passive-aggression, click on the ebook below for instant download:

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Anger Management In Action: Handling Anger on the Road

Road Rage 3Anger on the road is seen everywhere! Could road anger be a medical condition?

Headline: “Road Rage may be due to medical condition called Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED)”

What is the science behind this?
The study, reported in the June (2006) issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry was based on a national face-to-face survey of 9,282 U.S. adults who answered diagnostic questionnaires in 2001-03. It was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Results? About 5 percent to 7 percent of the nationally representative sample had had the disorder, which would equal up to 16 million Americans. That is higher than better-known mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The average number of lifetime attacks per person was 43, resulting in $1,359 in property damage per person. About 4 percent had suffered recent attacks. Many of these anger attacks violated both civil and criminal laws.

Is it real?
This study has created much controversy regarding exactly what is delicate about angry road rage and how it differs from plain bad, inconsiderate behavior. Undoubtedly, criminal defense attorneys from firms like the Barber Law Firm in Dallas, will be arguing in both civil and criminal courts that indeed it is a medical condition!

Are all cases like this due to Intermittent Explosive Disorder? Very Unlikely! Some are and some are not. This is why it is important to have a professional assessment of each case of “road rage” to determine the underlying cause, such as IED — or some other problem.

Other causes that could come into play would include: alcohol or drug intoxication, stress, depression or bipolar disorder and, of course, bad, selfish or inconsiderate behavior. All this lead to the need of being cured. A good attorney will refer you to a doctor, like http://diamondhousedetox.com/, who specializes in diagnosing mood disorders to determine the specific cause in each situation of apparent road rage.

Road rage vs aggressive driving
The person who weaves in and out of traffic, tail gates, or cuts in front of you may not be showing “road rage” per se, but inconsiderate aggressive driving. He is not angry at you; he probably doesn’t even know you exist, being preoccupied with his own selfish needs.

IED seen in other life areas
It is also important to remember that persons who do indeed suffer from Intermittent Explosive Disorder may explode in many other situations besides road rage. Often they “blow up” at spouses, children, co-workers, or customer service employees.

Remedies for road rage
If road rage is indeed due to IED, there are two treatments that can help both adolescents and adults: (1)medications , and (2) cognitive training. The medications usually involve SSRIs (a type of anti-depressant). In my opinion, most people who show rage on the road do not need medication, but some do and will benefit greatly from them.

Cognitive Training means learning to think differently about driving, aggression on the road, and other drivers including knowing some of the 22 home remedies for ringworm. Cognitive training is an important element in many anger management programs, which a few states now require for “road rage” behavior and/or aggressive driving.

Some anger management classes and programs teach specific cognitive and behavior skills to control aggressive, inconsiderate, and dangerous driving behaviors. These skill include:
Managing life stress better, including time-management skills.developing empathy for other drivers, learning healthy “self-talk” phrases, and adjusting expectations of others on the road.

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Anger Management In Action: In Trouble at Work?

bullying

Leroy’s Story
Leroy was a superstar in the Real Estate business, producing three times the monthly business of his nearest coworker. He was a driven, highly competitive young man who saw his manager as getting in the way of even higher production.

Tension turned to irritability. Yelling and shouting followed. On the day he was fired, he shoved his manager in front of alarmed coworkers who reported his behavior to HR. Anger management classes were required, along with a one month interim, before reinstatement would be considered.

As this case example illustrates, workplace anger is costly to the employee, the company, and coworkers. Studies show that up to 42% of employee time is spent engaging in or trying to resolve conflict. This results in wasted employee time, mistakes, stress, lower morale, hampered performance, and reduced profits and or service.

Clearly, poorly handled anger, frustration and resentment sabotage business productivity. Was Leroy justified in his anger? What skills should he learn to prevent future episodes?

Skill 1 – Anger Management
Using anger management skills, Leroy can clearly learn to control his behavior and communicate needs in a socially acceptable manner without disruptions to work and morale. The issue here is not if he was justified in being angry; it is how to best deal with normal angry feelings. A key ingredient to managing anger is learning to change “self-talk”- that inner dialog that creates or intensifies angry feelings. At work, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, but you don’t have to explode over it or be mean spirited in the process. Leaning new self-talk when things go wrong or others don’t do what you think they should can go a long way toward controlling that temper. Click here for a humorous example of how self-talk can change your life.

Skill 2 – Stress management
Leroy was clearly under a great deal of stress, much of which was self-imposed. Stress often triggers anger responses. Managing stress can help prevent anger outbursts, as well as reducing employee “burnout” and hampered performance. Effective stress-reduction strategies include learning breathing techniques, adjusting expectations, improving time-management, and finding a way to mentally adjust your mind-view and self-talk so that stressors loose their power to stress you out. Other effective stress-reduction techniques include watching your nutrition, getting proper sleep, and taking care of your body through exercise.

Skill 3 – Emotional Intelligence
Popularized by psychologist Daniel Goleman, much research shows that increasing “EQ” is correlated with emotional control and increased workplace effectiveness.

What is “EQ” exactly? According to Goleman, it is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

Fortunately, skills to improve your emotional intelligence can be learned. The critical EQ skills ones are empathy and social awareness. Empathy is the ability to see the world from the viewpoint of the other person. Lack of empathy is at the root of much anger and conflict because inability to see things from other points of view causes communication problems and frustration. It also causes employees, co-workers and managers to sense a lack of caring or concern for their well-being which is de-motivating in the workplace.

Social awareness is the people-skill of being sensitive to how we are coming across to others in the workplace. Many people are referred to anger management programs because they are seen by others as hostile, insensitive, or perhaps even degrading toward others. Persons with high EQ are constantly monitoring their own behavior as well as feedback from others as to how they are being seen by others. They then are flexible enough to modify their approach to get a different result, if needed.

Skill 4 – Assertive Communication
Communication problems frequently lead to misunderstandings, conflicts with coworkers and hurt feelings which may hamper concentration and work performance.

Assertiveness is not aggression, but a way to communicate so that others clearly understand your needs, concerns, and feelings. It starts with the familiar advice to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements which can sound accusatory, and may lead to defensiveness instead of cooperation.

Other communication improvements include acknowledging the concerns and feelings of others in your interaction with them, and being more sensitive to what others are saying to you “beneath the surface.”

Skill 5 –Adjusting Expectations
Anger is often caused in the workplace by a discrepancy between what we expect and what actually happens. Sometimes the problem is simply that your expectations are too high of yourself or others; or you have the wrong expectations to begin with. If you are frustrated with employees, remember that if they knew what you know, or they had the dedication you have, guess what? They would be doing what you are doing. Frustrated with co-workers? Try viewing them in a different light so that you can accept them they way they are, if there is no realistic way of changing things.

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Angry Over Power Struggles in Your Relationship?

A young angry misguided soul sat in one of our anger management classes dejected. The instructor asked why he was there. He said that his wife was angry over his not putting the toilet seat down after his use. Other class members looked at him incredulously and remarked: “you spent all this money on an anger management program for that? Why don’t you just put the toilet seat down? His answer: “because last week I asked for sex and she didn’t come through. So, this week why should I do what SHE wants?

tanking relationship

Perfect example of a ridiculous angry power struggle that some couples seem to get into constantly.

What is a power struggle?
A power struggle occurs in a relationship when partners battle or conflict over who is going to win an argument, prove a point, accomplish a certain goal, or have things done in a certain way. Often in a power struggle one partner is attempting to force their will upon the other, or is trying to make the partner do something they don’t want to do. In retaliation, one partner will try and “even the score” or have a “win” even if it makes no logical sense. It is about winning, not about being rational or solving the problem at hand. In fact, partners gridlocked into this pattern often become angry if the other does not comply, tries to compromise or wants to discuss alternative solutions to the problem.

Why is this concept important to you and your relationship?
This concept is important because it underlies many angry arguments and conflicts you and your partner may be having. Think about it. Do you have angry arguments that often are more about the power one has over the other rather than about the issue itself? Some people just have to dominate others. It is their way or the highway. They are rigid and unbending. They know what is best, in their minds, and refuse to bend, ‘give in to the other” or admit they are wrong, mistaken or misguided.

Often angry power-struggle people are lost in a “get-even’ mentality or “everything has to be equal” mentally with their partner. It is tit-for-tat with them so a volcano vaporizer should relax your partner and you. It’s about the balance sheet and all behavior is ultimately motivated by that “score” on the sheet.

What are some other examples of it?
*one partner insists that the other is not allowed to smoke pot (for severe pain) or it will end the relationship. The pot-smoker refuses to give it up, although he agrees to not do it in the home, in front of the children, or in public and will also get a legal marijuana medical card.

*One partner insists that their 5 year old child will only be fed “healthy” food and has a fit when her partner feeds their child “normal” (like a McDonald’s hamburger)food, yet often does it herself when alone with the child.

*Partner argues for hours over a political point to convince partner that he/she is right about it and they are wrong. The righteous one keeps both of them up until 3:00 AM arguing over the point until the other concedes.

*Partner insists that other take a certain route to a friend’s house even though other wants to go another way that is equally distant. This leads to a fight they have had for years.

How do people get “power” in a relationship?
Some partners just bring this trait into the relationship with them and are often like that in other areas of their lives too. They just have to right, to be first, to have done it better, to know things you don’t know. Everything is a competition with these folks – it is part of their core personality.It makes them feel good to always be in the driver’ s seat, so to speak. Often they are very insecure underneath and being right feeds their ego and their sense of being adequate. Being wrong validates their feeling of inadequacy.

But in other relationships, the partners seem to trigger it in each other, even if they are not like that in other areas of their lives or even in other relationships. There are many other bases for power in relationships and it is quite a complex subject, when you really stop and think about it. Where does “power” come from? How can you get it? It is often thought among professionals that the person who loves the most (or is most needy) in an intimate relationship has the least power while the person who loves the least(is less needy) has more of the power (they have less to lose if it doesn’t work out).

Money and PowerBut, people gain (or lose power) power in relationships for many other reasons too. How about money? Does earning level bring power?

Example: Dave was recently divorced,and pretty much lost his business and most of his assets. Soon thereafter he met Martha who was quite well off through rental real estate properties. He started managing her properties but was also her lover. Soon, she controlled his whole life, ordering him around like he was an $8 per hour employee. She said “jump” and he asked, “how high”?

She literally would lie in bed while he popped grapes in her mouth as requested, while seething inside and then coming to his therapist exploding in anger. When asked why he put up with it, turns out that it was about the money. A “Yes, dear” response to her requests ensured that she would be willing to finance a new business venture he needed to get back on his feet.

Sex and Power. Many partners control their partners through sex (or lack of sex) which tends to generate anger and resentment in the sex-starved partner. This can go both ways, but more often than not, it is the man who feels sex-starved or experiences resentment because he has to “beg” for it.

Example: Dan was a 41 year old plumber and father of two children. Married for thirteen years, he said that he and his wife used to be like rabbits sexually before they had children. Now, “she has no interest, devoting almost 100% of her time to the kids and their needs. He is constantly angry due to sexual frustration but can do nothing about it. Yes, he has talked to her on many occasions. Her reply: “live with it.” He does not want to have an affair, but asks: “why should I have to give up something so important to me?” “It is like I am dying of thirst, she has the only well in town which is dry and she forbids me to visit other towns.”

Competency and Power:Sometimes partners sort of inherit power in certain areas of the relationship because they are clearly more competent in that area. For instance, if one partner is a better money handler, he or she should probably handle the budget and be in charge of financial management. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the financial handler will have more power in other aspects of the relationship such as parenting, vacation planning, or setting the emotional mood of the household.

Mood Setting and Power: 40 year old Peter told me that his wife of 12 years is extremely moody due to numerous medical problems as well as a core personality of many mood fluctuations. “The minute I walk in the door,” he says, I sense her mood.” “If it is bad or negative, I pour myself a glass of scotch, go to my room and hibernate for several hours, just to be alone.” If, on the other hand, his wife’s mood is positive, the family has a joyous evening with each other that night. In this case, his wife has all the power as a mood setter in the family.

Status and Power; Sometimes couples equate differences in perceived status as a basis for trying to dominate or control the other. Status might mean “social” status, occupational status, or gender status. In many cultures, men are seen as the head of household by default; these men get very angry if they do not receive “respect” from their women or children. They tend to use anger, authority, and bullying to get their way. Sometimes they are married to women who use sadness (tears) and appeals of helplessness to influence their mates. In the United States, most woman do not accept these stereotyped roles any longer as they have have gained much ‘power” through economic and occupational equality.Obviously this change can create mountains of conflict if they couple does not agree on role definition, and who does what around the house and in the relationship.

On the other hand, I have seen many couples wherein it is the woman who has most power and control in the relationship. These women emotionally abuse their mates through contempt,disrespect, guilt, chronic complaining and criticalness of their partner and sometimes even alienation of the children against their father. Upon occasion, these men finally “blow up” out of shear frustration of never being able to please their wife. Then these men are accused of having an “anger problem” and required by their wives to seek help.

How can it be fixed?In healthy relationships, power struggles are resolved naturally through a natural balance. You win today over finances; she wins tomorrow over parenting.

But, diffusing defusing power struggles in a troubled relationship can be tricky indeed. Sometimes it is best to just let it go..and give the power to your partner, especially if the power is based on superior competency or skill (like money handling or culinary expertise). Another case where it might be better to let it go is when it is part of your partner’s personality, as described above. Can’t change it. What else are you going to do? Acceptance of that which is not changeable in a relationship is a major tool of anger control.

A wise person comes to realize that being right isn’t always important – being happy or content or in peace may be much more important.

Why is it so hard sometimes to just let it go? Here are some reasons that I have observed and some solutions that should be of help to you:
1. Most conflicts between partners do not have a “right” and a “wrong” answer at all. In fact, most relationship conflicts are based on opinions, judgments, and attitudes – not facts that provide firm guidelines about what is the correct “answer” to a relationship dispute.Take the case above with the fight over what their child should eat. Will a McDonald’s hamburger once a week truly hurt a child? Will a vegetarian child be healthier in life than other children?

The Solution: Realize that just because you believe it, doesn’t make it absolute fact, or doesn’t make it the ONLY fact. Your partner has a right to their opinion too (even if you think it is wrong or misguided). So try to loosen up and be more reasonable instead of righteous and rigid.

2. Arguments that appear to be logically based often are emotionally based, so they can’t be solved logically. Prime example: the couple described above who fight in the car over which way to travel to a friend’s house. In this case, the point of the argument stops being about finding an objective solution and starts being about who is more entitled to be ‘right’. That is an emotional issue – not a logical one. The emotion is “Autonomy” -or the need to make one’s own decisions, to have free will, and not be dominated or controlled by the other one.

The Solution:
Take a time out to cool down before the argument gets out of hand. Before doing anything, take in a deep breath, talk to yourself and de-escalate that emotion inside of you that wants to be right. Do this before things get out of hand. In our system of anger management, this is one of the first tools we teach our clients, using the metaphor of the bullfighter needing to step out of the way of the charging bull. When calmer, try talking about it and compromising (Maybe go one way this time, and the other way the next time; or, establish a driving ritual or rule: the driver decides the route and othe must be quiet)

3. One partner has lost respect for the other and frankly doesn’t care anymore what the other thinks. Loss of respect is tough to recover from, if it is possible at all. If you are on the other end and he or she has lost respect for you, sometimes what really helps is for you to demand less disrespecting behavior from your partner. Stand up for yourself! Don’ t let yourself be emotionally abused. Even if they don’ t like you anymore, you deserve to be treated like a human being, especially in front of the children.

The Solution:One strategy to gain respect is to start acting and behaving in ways similar to other people who do indeed get respect from their partner. Put another way, be deserving of their respect.

On the other hand, if you want to respect your partner, but can’ t get past an issue that prevents it, you will need to find a way to shift your perspective of him or her and focus on other aspects of their behavior or personality.

This is not easy. Often, professional help professional intervention is needed to help you develop strategies and coping skills.

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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 like Haven House Detox, 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 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.

    AngerCoach Show – Episode #15 – Peace at any price?

    This month we discuss the whether the concept of “Peace at any price” is really valid when dealing with issues that come up in marriage. When dealing with problems in any relationship, assertive communication will often yield better results because it communicates feelings better than simply “clamming up”.

    AngerCoach Show – Episode #11 – Anger and Sex

    This months episode we discuss the relationship that sex and anger share. As a practicing Psychologist and Marriage Therapist, I have come across many couples who experience sexual frustrations in their relationships. Often times anger can arise from sexual frustration, and as this episode discusses, sexual frustration can result from anger. In this podcast we teach four practical and easy-to-employ techniques for reducing sexual frustration and anger in your relationship.

    Please note: This anger program and these anger tips are not meant to substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or advice. If you have intense, serious or chronic anger problems, or you have to deal with someone else who does, you should immediately consult a mental health or medical professional for help.

    Anger Coach Free Resources: Blogs, Podcasts and Videos

    Dr Fiore/ The Anger Coach continues to produce educational materials to help individuals, couples, and families deal with anger, conflict, and stress. Just click on the resource listed below to access the material. Feel free to pass on the material to anyone who you think might benefit from it.

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    Blogs and Podcasts

    Conflict Resolution- How to apologize correctly to resolve a conflict.

    Family Stress- 6 tips for parents to handle child anger.

    Marriage

    Quick Anger Tips

    empathy video

    Videos