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Monthly Anger Control Tip

Learning about Judgment, Curiosity and its applications to anger managment

One of the concepts we teach in our model of anger management is to learn to not pass judgment so quickly and become more curious. While judgment tends to lead us in only one direction with one conclusion, curiosity opens up all different possibilities for the potential outcome or reason for why something happened or why a person behaved a certain way.This concept is borrowed from Narrative Therapy pioneer Michael White, but has dramatic uses for anger management. This concept will help better manage expectations as well as come to conclusions that are based on good reasoning rather than a hasty judgments. Judgments are usually made when we are either misinformed by others or we have a belief about something or someone that is not based on facts, but guided by emotions or irrational thoughts. When we pass judgment, it can often have damaging effects on the recipient as well as the relationship. Things are not always as they appear to seem, and a hasty judgment can ruin a potentially good situation or outcome.Curiosity on the other hand, opens up many possibilities for why something or someone behaved. When we are more curious and ask questions of curiosity, we are often surprised by the answers. This surprise or change in thinking can often lead to an improved view and a more fact based, realistic interpretation. Curiosity opens up unlimited possibilities for unique outcomes.Why make a judgment before learning more about that person or their behavior? This judgment is part of a reflex response. We simply get in the habit of passing judgment too quickly or hear bad information and believe it to be true and pass the same judgment before attempting to learn more on our own.So, give it a try next time you find yourself passing judgment on someone. Ask them some questions about why they did what they did or how they came to the conclusion they did. You might actually learn something unique and different that would otherwise contradict your initial judgment. This will not only reduce your anger, but it will also deepen your relationship.

Previous Tip: Challenging Automatic Thinking!

Challenge Automatic Thinking Automatic thinking is self-thought we automatically have in certain situations based on beliefs we have about our world. Automatic thinking occurs in the following way: it’s as simple as ABC (and then we add DE to make it more powerful).

A = An Event or Adversity in Life Example: On the road you are delayed by a driver in front of you going ten miles an hour below the speed limit.

B = Your Beliefs and Automatic Thoughts About the Situation Example: What a jerk; she has no right to do that to me; I’m going to get even; she did that to me on purpose; why does she disrespect me like that; why does this always happen to me? Why can’t she get out of my way?

C = Feelings, Emotions Example: Frustration, anger, outrage

D = Challenging Self-talk Example: She is not driving slowly to make me late; she probably isn’t even aware of me; maybe she is doing the best she can; perhaps she just came from the doctor’s office with bad news and she is on the verge of tears; how would I feel toward her if I discovered the driver was my mother?

E = New Effects of Looking at Things Differently Examples: Increased tolerance and more understanding of possible reasons for the slow driving: resolve not to take it personally, understanding that to right the wrong of another driver is not justified or rational understanding that maintaining a hostile attitude on the road is harmful to society—innocent drivers, their families, and their loved ones.

Learning to think these new ways is always a challenge for most people because it doesn’t seem natural, and many times it doesn’t even seem true. This is because our first thoughts are automatic, based on beliefs we have about the world around us.

A powerful way to learn think in this ABCDE model (first developed by a famous psychologist named Dr. Albert Ellis) is to first look at some of your assumptions or beliefs and then consider changing them if they produce anger, resentment, or unhappiness for you.

Listen to yourself as you think about things that make you angry and then see if you can talk yourself out of that anger by challenging your beliefs and then substituting new self-talk that reduces those angry feelings.

Previous Monthy Anger Control Tips: Forgiveness Deciding if you should forgive or not may be easier after reviewing exactly what forgives is – and what it is not.

· Forgiving does not mean that you forget the offense You may never forget (and probably shouldn’t) what happened to you, but after forgiveness you can remember it without the emotional pain connected to it.

· Forgiving does not mean that you are saying what they did was O.K. Quite the opposite. We can forgive but still see what happened to you as horrific or unjust.

· You don’t need to even tell people that you forgive them; the forgiveness occurs in your heart – not in conversation with them, although in some circumstances you may want to have a dialogue about it It often backfires if you go up to someone (especially a relative) and say “I forgive you.” This occurs because the offending person often doesn’t see himself or herself as the problem. Better to do the forgiveness in your own mind and heart. One exception to this is if you are the victim of a violent crime. Some studies show that it helps your healing if you forgive your assailant face to face.

· Forgiving doesn’t mean you will automatically trust them again Forgiveness and trust are two separate issues. Even after forgiveness, it may take a long time to re-build trust, if ever. To instantly trust someone again after they have violated you in some way is not a sign of good mental health or strong self-esteem.

· Forgiving doesn’t necessary mean you like or love the offender, or even want to be in future relationship with them Absence of angry feelings doesn’t necessarily create warm, positive, or loving feelings in you for the offender-at best forgiving may bring you up to neutral in your feelings toward them. It I possible to say to yourself, for instance, “OK. I forgive her but I don’ want to have anything further to do with her-ever.”

· You don’t need to forgive all at once. This is a concept that especially applies to forgiving an unfaithful partner. Dr. Abrams-Spring suggests that to start maybe you can only forgive 10%—just open the door—and then see how your unfaithful partner behaves. After a period of time, you might want to open the door a little wider and forgive maybe another 20%, and so on.