Posts Tagged ‘Anger 911 radio’

EXPOSING COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ANGER

I’ve been presenting seminars on understanding and healing anger for 25 years and it never ceases to amaze me how much misinformation is circulating about one of life’s most powerful emotions. Lack of accurate facts and techniques can have serious repercussions in every aspect of life from relationships to health to joy and happiness. Consider the following myths and truths:

Myth #1. It’s wrong to get angry. Anger is a bad emotion.

Truth: In truth, all emotions are neutral and only have the value we assign them. Each one serves a necessary purpose as they act as messengers that provide great insight into the self: what matters to us vs what’s unimportant; where our values lie and what things violate them; what our expectations and judgments are concerning others, ourselves, and the world in general; what our personal issues are (in need of healing) which are currently causing us distress and trigger anger, jealousy, fear, etc.

Humans are hardwired to feel a wide variety of emotions which is a valuable asset. Once we are able to decipher the message and purpose of the feeling, we can use it to better understand ourselves, work on our personal issues and find peace with them, motivate us to make positive changes within ourselves and in our relationships or our environment.

Anger itself is neither wrong nor bad. Again, it’s a powerful messenger that alerts us to the fact that something in our life needs our attention to correct. It is the way in which we process it, express it, and use it that determines if it’s going to be a positive or negative force in our lives and in the lives of those affected. Anger can cause serious damage or allow for personal growth.

Myth #2. When you feel angry, it’s best to let it out and get it off your chest.

Truth: This is a double-edged sword. While suppressing or denying anger can prove detrimental to the one experiencing it (and ultimately to the relationship since those involved are not being honest with one another), doing so at the height of the emotion can be extremely risky. First let me state that it is not always necessary to express how you feel in that precise moment. Many issues can be resolved internally without ever verbalizing one’s displeasure. When I am angry, I need to first ask myself “Why do I allow this to bother me?” Very often, once I am able to answer that question I realize that it is my own perception, judgment or personal issues that need to be addressed. In truth, there may be nothing wrong or offensive about the other person’s behavior at all.

Sometimes, expressing your displeasure can hurt the other person’s feelings, cause the situation to escalate, give the appearance that you are unreasonable or hostile (if your anger is out of control), lead to embarrassment or regret, damage relationships, and more. People respond to various situations in one of two ways: either from an intellectual perspective or an emotional one. When operating from an intellectual mind, one collects all relevant data, processes it, and comes to a rational conclusion. When expressing themselves they are typically more calm and focused, offering logical, well thought out comments. Conversely, when one is highly emotional, they rarely act or speak logically. Emotions are powerful tools that cloud rational judgment and offer irrational statements, assumption, conclusions, and demands. It is best to practice the SWaT Strategy (from The Secret Side of Anger) giving yourself the necessary time to calm down, rethink the issue, and respond intelligently and fairly.

So the answer is both yes and no. There are times when it is perfectly acceptable and advantageous to let the other party know that you are upset with them or with what has transpired. Sharing feelings invites open dialogue that can clear the air, gain deeper insights, and strengthen relationships. In other circumstances, it is best to remain silent, giving oneself adequate time to process the event, draw a reasonable conclusion, find peace with it and let it go without revealing one’s initial displeasure.

Myth #3. You can’t help the way you feel.

Truth: Believing that one has no control over how they feel is one of the most dangerous and self-destructive beliefs one can have. In essence, they relinquish their authentic power over to others; they are at the mercy of how others treat them and their reaction to such. “You make me mad. You hurt my feelings. You embarrassed me.” They believe themselves to be powerless (the very definition of anger) thus putting themselves in the role of being a victim: helpless and without power. That is a terrifying place to be as others now have control over your feelings and life.

Anger, as are all emotions, is a choice. All emotions originate in the mind with a thought. I choose my thoughts and therefore choose the corresponding emotion. Thoughts are the single most powerful tool we have. Every decision ever made began with a thought. No one and nothing can control one’s mind. Someone may suggest that I think a certain way, let’s say that I should dislike a family member whom they despise. They may offer all sorts of reasons as to why I should hate them but ultimately I chose what I believe or disbelieve about the individual and those thoughts will ultimately dictate how I feel about them.

When my best friend fails to return my call after a week’s time, I can tell myself she’s being rude or consider that she might have simply forgotten. I decide if I want to be upset about a situation or just let it be. One evokes anger, the other compassion. Either way – my choice.

Myth #4. Other people/things make you angry.

Truth: People or events (outside stimuli) are triggers, not causes. Whenever we experience an event (something occurs, someone says/does something that does not meet our criteria for what we believe should happen) we become agitated. Pay careful attention to the expectations and demands you place on yourself and those around you. Unrealistic or unfair expectations are a leading cause of anger. We demand far too much from ourselves, (“I should be doing more/should be able to handle this”), from others (“He’s an adult. He needs to be more responsible.”), or from the world “(“If I work hard, I’ll be successful.”) Life and others will not always conform to our demands. When we experience disappointment, disillusionment, become frustrated or hurt we will create feelings of anger as we feel let down by others or the world.

Keep in mind that people are under no obligation to conform to our demands nor am we here to conform to theirs. Each of us has a God-given right to live life as best we can, keeping in mind that no one has a right to cause harm to another in any way. Remember too that life owes us nothing, therefore we have no right to expect anything other than what we create on our own.

Therefore it is imperative the consider that a simple readjustment of one’s expectations to something more reasonable and realistic for the situation alleviates any potential anger from manifesting. Pay careful attention to the thoughts you entertain concerning the event or individual you are engaging with. Those outside stimuli are only triggers; your anger arises from your thought process.

Myth #5. Anger is hereditary. If you have a bad temper you can’t help it – it’s in your genes.

Truth: Anger is a learned behavior. Claiming that it is inherited is an avoidance tactic – a way to circumvent taking responsibility for one’s attitude and subsequent behaviors and consequences. Children may grow up in a toxic and violent family and see anger as a normal way of life. But what is learned can be unlearned as well.

Under the right conditions, anyone can control their anger if necessary. If the consequences are potentially high enough (perhaps one risks getting fired for an explosive outburst at work) that person could contain their feelings until they were in a safer environment where the dangers of expressing it are far less. A bad temper is typically the result of one being overly sensitive and taking personal offense to minor infractions. Or it can arise from feelings of fear: the need to control in order to keep oneself safe and happy. All anger can be healed with the proper knowledge, tools, and commitment.

Myth #6. People with anger issues yell, scream, throw things, hit, punch, etc. Those who don’t react with aggression don’t have a problem with anger.
Truth: Not so. One is simply more apparent than the other. Many people are afraid to openly express how they feel and will keep their anger bottled up inside. This can lead to depression, health issues, relationship problems, addictions, somatizing (inflicting harm upon oneself such as self-mutilation or self-sabotage), self-loathing, and more. Others resort to sarcasm, the silent treatment or other covert behaviors. And still others are in denial of their anger believing that it is wrong and/or that they will be judged because of it. Either way, suppressing anger can have potentially deadly consequences.

It is critical to identify suppressed or denied anger within oneself. Those who are fearful of speaking up put themselves at risk for being used, abused, overlooked, taken advantage of and more. Their relationships lack truth and candor and will undoubtedly suffer the consequences. Sadly, undefined anger interferes with one’s ability to experience authentic happiness and joy in life. On every level, it can have devastating consequences.
Anger is a normal, healthy, useful, and necessary emotion. Acknowledge it when it arises, get to the root* of what is bothering you, heal those issues, and let the anger go. Anger appropriately utilized can yield positive benefits for you and those around you. Choose your emotions wisely for they direct the entire course of your life.

Q: Proverbs 15: “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.”

*Learn more about the 3 root causes in The Secret Side of Anger
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NEVER BE A VICTIM AGAIN!

At some time in life, most people feel as though they’ve been treated unfairly to the extent that they would consider themselves a victim. Certainly those who have been the target of a violent crime fall into that category according to society’s standards. Even those of lesser offenses can view themselves as the target of injustice: a faithful spouse who’s partner has an affair or files for divorce; a child being tormented by a bully at school; one who has a rumor spread about them, particularly those that cause significant damage or distress.

By definition, a victim is one who is acted on and (generally speaking) is adversely affected by a force or agent such as robbery, physical assault, or murder. A person who is cheated, tricked or fooled by another (which may or may not cause them harm, such as the target of an innocent prank) or one who is coned out of their life savings for instance, can also be seen as a victim. There are also victims of unforeseen circumstances such as disease or natural disaster (hurricane, flood), or that which is out of their control (bad economy, company downsizing). Typically we perceive said person as being innocent of any wrongdoing that contributed to their unfortunate circumstance. One who engages in gang activity and suffers severe physical harm to their person is not seen as blameless but rather contributory to their injuries. Someone who is unproductive on the job and overlooked for a promotion given to the boss’s son is not a victim of nepotism for their prior actions (or lack thereof) are justification for their being ignored. However, one who has lived a wholesome lifestyle and diagnosed with a devastating disease receives much sympathy.

Yet even those who diverge from the universal criteria for victimization, there are still a significant number who believe they fall into this category. The reasons are several: a victim is one who feels powerless in a given situation. Statements such as “I can’t help it”, “It’s not my fault”, “I did nothing to deserve this”, “Why me?” are common complaints. They view themselves as completely innocent of any wrongdoing and shoulder no responsibility for what is or has transpired but are quick to hold others accountable (blame).They also perceive themselves as having no choice but to comply with or endure what is has happened and fail to see options that could have possibly prevented or could now resolve that which is unjust. Very often, those who feel they have been the deliberate target of an wrongdoing feel persecuted and are consumed with self-pity, resentment, bitterness, and rage.

In truth, the label of “victim” is a matter of perception alone. The Dalai Lama says that “There are no victims in life, only students.” This compelling statement illustrates the power of perception. In any of life’s circumstances, how I view myself is critical to how I react to and/or use the event in my life. Going through my divorce, the estrangement from my children, my dad’s Alzheimer’s, a domestic violence relationship – in each I could see myself as a victim since I was powerless to control, prevent, or correct many of these situations. Or I could choose to learn from each in order that I may grow, become a better person, and share my knowledge with others so that they may benefit as well. That choice is entirely up to me. The first leaves me angry and bitter; the latter grateful and determined.

One of the easiest and quickest means of eliminating a victim mentality is actually quite simple. When something unexpected enters our life, we may react by asking: “Why is this happening to me?” We are stunned that something of such an unpleasant nature could actually appear in our life. This question implies that we are being targeted by someone or some unseen force. In truth, there may be those who seek to deliberately hurt me or this could simply be a random act. In any event, I am not immune to so-called bad things happening. However, one simple shift in terminology releases me from the chains of victimhood to one of liberation and strength. By changing the phrase to me to for me I can experience the event as merely a challenge to accept or as a genuine blessing in my life to appreciate rather than a curse or trauma. In truth, there are no bad experiences; there simply are events that enter our lives. How we label and view them and how we choose to use them determines their value, nothing else. One can view a stroke as a nightmare or they can see it as an opportunity to reinvent their life.

The reality of what has transpired is irrelevant; all that matters is one’s assessment and use of it.

Victims believe they have no power and powerlessness is the very definition of anger. Therefore, victims are filled with anger and fear (a root cause of anger) and may experience rage or paralyzing anxiety. They fail to recognize that all humans possess authentic power which is found in the ability to make personal choices – how we view things, what we think and feel, what we say or don’t say, how we respond or not, and how we allow life to impact us. That is the only real control any of us have – our ability to make our own decisions.

In truth, none of us has dominance over anything eternal, anything outside of the self. I can only influence my surroundings but I cannot control them. Sometimes things work out as I anticipated, other times not even remotely close. I can choose to put forth effort to correct that which I am unsatisfied with or I can elect to accept and be at peace with it. My choice.

So how does one move beyond the mindset of being a victim to establishing authority over their own lives, success, and happiness?

1. Remember that everything that enters your life has purpose and value. The labels you assign determine their worth: good or bad are relevant terms on in the sense that they are dictated by your personal standards. Re evaluate their assessment, removing any derogatory notions and seek the meaning and importance of each. Once its significance is determined, one can find a way to use the experience for a greater good.
Life isn’t about truth and reality; life is about perception. The reality of what has transpired is irrelevant; all that matters is one’s assessment and use of it.
2. Check your perception for accuracy. Many times our expectations of life are unrealistic, such as “my life should be what I want it to be”. Unmet expectations lead to frustration(another root cause of anger), a sense of powerlessness, anger, and bitterness. Be honest and real with yourself about the unpredictability that life affords all of its participants.
3. Try to view each situation from every perspective. By gaining a greater understanding of the cause and nature of the event, we are better able to make sense of it. This can lead to a willingness to accept that which we cannot change.
4. Ask yourself, “What is this experience here to teach me?” Courage, determination, trust, self-confidence, forgiveness: life’s most profound lessons are most often found in our most difficult happenings. This, too, adds greater value to what has transpired.
5. Take control. Are there any changes that can be made to improve things for you and others who have been affected? If so, create a plan and begin putting forth effort. If not, acceptance of those things that we cannot change enables us to move beyond the occurrence with a peaceful determination to get on with our lives.
6. Forgive those who contributed to what happened. People can be mean-spirited, thoughtless, careless, selfish, and more. Their actions are a reflection of their issues, they are not about you. Forgiving acknowledges mankind’s imperfections and releases all judgments. It chooses to put to rest any anger, hatred, jealousy, thoughts of retaliation and so on. Again, learn the lesson, let go of the emotion attached to it, and move forward as a stronger better version of yourself.
7. Accept responsibility for your role, if applicable. Vow to learn and not repeat the same behavior in the future. Forgive yourself as well.

Buddha says, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” All of us will experience some type of pain in our lives – physical, emotional, financial, etc. However, when we prolong the pain and keep it actively alive in our minds, it converts to suffering that can last a lifetime and destroy our lives.

Remember, victimization is an illusion, not a reality; it is a choice, not a given.

It is rooted in our perception of ourselves in the context of an event accompanied by feelings of self-pity and persecution.
Reclaim your authentic power utilizing your ability to choose. In the words of Pastor Joel Osteen, “You are a victor, not a victim” God created you to rise above and be victorious in every the challenge. You were not created to suffer and fail. Those are personal choices that you need to re evaluate.
Stand tall. Face life as it appears. Redefine each event and use them in such a way that benefits you and those around you. And in doing so, you will never fall prey to the illusion of being a victim ever again.

Q: No one journeys through life unscathed. Each of us faces hardships and challenges along the way. It matters not what enters our life but more importantly what we do with it: how we use it to better ourselves and those around us.

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