Anger is an emotion and an inevitable part of our lives. We cannot control the
act of being angry. But we can control the degree of anger we feel, and our response to provoking situations. Basically, to
control anger, you need to view a provoking situation realistically with a sense of proportion. You then need to respond effectively.
This means neither overlooking the problem, hoping it will go away, or overreacting.
It is hard to imagine a person physically beating himself up. But we actually beat ourselves up mentally and emotionally
by our responses to anger situations. We can use the letters ABC to describe our response. A stands for an ACT we find provoking. Our reaction, usually of anger, is C, the CONSEQUENCE.
Most of us believe that the CONSEQUENCE is a direct result of the ACT. However, with a little thought, we can come
to realize that the CONSEQUENCE is a result of B, our BELIEF about the ACT. In
other words, our feelings are more influenced by what we BELIEVE about something that is happening to us rather than
the ACT itself.
Our anger becomes distorted because
of a faulty belief system. We can use the Acronym DIMM to categorize four types of faulty belief systems. -
stands for DESTRUCTIVE LABELING. Labeling involves categorizing someone in a totally and absolutely negative manner,
Rather than thinking of people, as personalities comprised of both positive and negative qualities, we reduce them to a single
label. For example, statements like “He is so inconsiderate.” He is so stupid,” “He is so immature,”
are over generalizations. What really happened is that someone has done something that you regard as immature, inconsiderate
or stupid, but this does not mean that the person is always immature, Inconsiderate, or stupid. (See Matthew 5:7, 43-44, 7:1, Luke 23:34, and John 8:1-11.)
II. "I" stands for IMPERATIVES. Imperatives mean
that we mentally change our preferences into commands. For example, “People must always treat me fairly,” “People
must always listen to what I say,” “No one should ever make a remark that I find offensive,” “People
should always understand how I feel,” The truth is that this is sometimes an unfair world and people will make thoughtless,
unfeeling remarks. (See John 15:18—25, and Timothy 3:12, and 1st John 3:13.)
There are usually problems when we
put too many “shoulds” and “musts” on other people. Psychologist Albert Ellis calls “musterbation”
and “ ‘shoulding’ on yourself.” Beware of “always,” also.
III. The First “M”
stands for MIND READING. When we assume that we know why a person is acting in a certain way, we are mind
reading. For example, “He does not care about me,” “She hates me,” are conclusions that we
sometimes assume without checking it out. (See Matthew 7:1)
IV. The Second “M” stands for MAGNIFICATION.
Magnification involves exaggerating the importance or consequences of a negative event. Examples are, “I
can’t stand it!” It’s horrible! It’s Awful!” Albert Ellis calls this process “awfulizing.”
The truth is that human beings can stand a lot of stress and diversity and that we make things seem worse than they really
are. (See Philippians 4:12—13, Matthew 6:25, Ephesians 6:13, and Job 5:7.)
OUT (AN EFFECTIVE ANGER MANAGEMENT TOOL)!
you feel yourself getting angry, and you want to avoid losing control or cool down the situation, say, “I AM BEGINING
TO FEEL ANGRY AND I WANT TO TAKE A TIME OUT.” You need to say it exactly in this way because this wording emphasizes
that you are making a productive choice rather than stating that you are compelled to leave. Take one hour for your time out,
no less. Then come back and re—examine the issue. During the time out, do something physical and constructive (example:
walk the dog) and do not drink or take drugs. If after an hour, you or the other person needs more time, take it. However,
do not use this as an excuse to avoid the issue. The effectiveness of the time out depends on your agreement to discuss the
situation later. Also, you should use the time out to control your anger, not the anger of another person.
The time out is for you to cool off. The other person must be responsible for his own anger.
If you cannot leave an anger-provoking situation (example: you are driving in a car) observe a period of silence before
continuing the discussion. Do something to fill the time (Example: If in a car, listen to three songs on the radio). Then
continue the discussion.
ASSERTION, AGGRESSION, AND EXPRESSING YOUR FEELINGS
Assertion is expressing how you feel without making a judgment about others. Aggression usually involves a
negative judgment about someone else. Assertion never involves put-downs and usually involves “I” messages. Example:
“I am allergic to cigarette smoke. Would you mind putting your cigarette out?” is an assertive request. “Hey
Stupid! Put out your cigarette, you inconsiderate moron!” is very aggressive statement.
Expressing your feelings means that you talk about what you feel, not about what you think another feels or
“I feel that you do not like me” is not expressing a feeling. “I
feel sad that you do not like me” is expressing a feeling.
Try saying the
following feeling words three times each, Changing your expression each time to see if you can get a feel for at least some
of the words: Happy, Sad, Angry, frustrated, tense, hurt, depressed, content, anxious, scared, lonely, frightened and
When you express feelings
rather than express aggressive or put down statements, you then put the other person in a position that they must deal with
your feelings rather than defend themselves. Unfortunately, this does not mean that people will always respond to or respect
your feelings. You cannot reasonably expect that everyone will respect or be concerned about your feelings. But, at least,
they become aware of how you feel and they cannot plead ignorance nor accuse you of attacking them.
“I” MESSAGES AND “YOU” MESSAGES
People usually confront and communicate one of two ways. One of these is to use statements that are critical
and put others on the defensive. These types of messages are called “you” messages (example: “you are inconsiderate”
“you are trying to get attention” “you are deliberately trying to hurt me” “you are mean”).
Another way of confronting is to use statements that express your needs without attacking or being critical of the
other person. These are called “I” messages (example: “I cannot concentrate when the radio is so loud”
“I cannot pay attention to you now, but I will later on.” “I feel hurt by what you just said”). “1”
messages are more effective because they communicate how you feel without putting the other person on the defensive.
Sometimes one can disguise a “you”
message in an apparent “I” message. (Example: “I feel hurt because you are so inconsiderate”) A good
“I” message never involves a critical statement or judgment about another person’s behavior. It only concerns
the effect of the behavior on the person giving the message.
For a more complete treatment of anger managment, you can download
my anger managment paper below or on the home page. I am certified as an anger management trainer by Century Anger
click here to download Anger Management Paper