Anger Management Short Term and Long Term

Postby Leo Volont » Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:49 am

If you have come to this page, then anger is a problem for you. You are probably fresh off of a recent anger episode which got you into serious trouble with your Job or with a relationship or significantly damaged your standing with a social group. Rightly you decided that you can’t continue down that road and you wish you were simply more easy going, but the Anger seems to have a life of it’s own. Anger seems to rise up and possess us. The sense of having lost control is very real for us. People preaching to us that we have free will, well, that just seems like an argument they use to fix our blame, but we know the truth of it is not quite so clear. We are clearly not willing to be such victims of ourselves, right?

Well, the first step after an Anger Episode is that we must deal with your internal dialogue, the nonstop thinking which is a product of the Stress Hormone Cortisol. You know how it goes: the thinking goes over what we should have said and did, but in terms of making things worse: sharper insults and more dramatic stands. The little voice insists on escalation. You see, stress and the hormone cortisol are vestige remnants of Humanities dangerous primitive times when we were not at the top of the food chain and life and death situations were common place. Survival was fight. So under conditions of stress our minds would race to give us battle plans and strategies. After meeting with a bear or a snake and surviving, while still in the state of excitement our minds would go over how we might have survived even better, and how to fight harder and better next time. But civilized living is geared towards peace, not conflict.

So, first, learn to ignore your own provocative thinking. But, yes, it is insistent. An important skill you can become acquainted with right now is practicing Avoidance. We will discuss long term Anger Management Strategies later, but learning Anger Management is a skill much like learning to play the violin. Practice Practice Practice, but that all takes time. If you are already in trouble with your job hanging by a thread or your partner ready to walk out or serve you with a restraining order, then your first priority is to stay out of trouble. You don’t have to fight the bear if you can plausibly hide from it. Staying out of trouble has a great deal to do with keeping our distance.

Along with avoidance, you should appreciate the value of simply not engaging in trouble. Don’t say a word. I noticed this while driving, that if one simply let’s the guy that cut you off go, without a honk or a raised finger, and if you can stay silent without a word, especially without a swear word, then you will find that a minute later you are mentally perfectly quiet. It is by getting engaged into any situation that one becomes subject to stress. Son pick you battles. When the fight is not worth your trouble, then remain totally out of it and don’t even say a word.

There is something that we could call almost satanically magical about cussing and swearing that summons up our inner demons. Learn to never curse. On the job it is usually the swearing that will get you written up. In relationships it is the cussing that raises the red flag and the time of troubles begins. I can’t underestimate how much anger can be avoided if only we could keep just a few words off our tongues.

It takes about a day and a half for the cortisol and other stress hormones to metabolize away and for calmness and perspective to return. Then you should think of Damage Control. Reach out and apologize to everybody concerned and tell everybody you are going to seek out Anger Management Therapy. Yeah, lie to people. Don’t worry at this point about whether you are promising more than you can deliver. People realize that telling promising lies is at least an acknowledgment that you know anger is not a good thing. Just think of how most Angry People are, with their self justifications, that anger is “natural”, that they are standing up for what’s right, that they are only being assertive. That means of course that they will do it again and again and again. It is so demoralizing for other people who suffer from our anger to realize that we still think our anger is a Good Thing. So give people a glimmer of hope and tell them it will stop even if you can’t really believe it now yourself. Besides, coming to this forum was a very good first step. So, yes, tell people it will all change, that you are becoming a new you.

In terms of Short Term Strategies, before we get into the mentality of the Angry Personality, let’s just deal with the stress and the cortisol. If you are angry then you know what stress is. Stress wires you up, and we have already discussed the nonstop defensive hostile thinking, but there is also the muscle tension and being under stress is exhausting. Now, I don’t think you will read about this technique I am about to give you in any of the literatures but I have found that the very first signal we get of a Cortisol Rush is that our jaw muscles tighten. This is very important. I read in Ronald Potter-Efron’s book “The Angry Brain” that the deeper animal instinct parts of our brain are the first to KNOW we are angry, that is, to register the ‘trigger’ that makes us Blow Up. SO the cortisol starts to pump from about one and a half to two seconds before our THOUGHT brain begins to inform us, or simply when the shouting starts. Those fractions of a seconds can be the time it takes to stop the anger by shutting down the cortisol. It is as easy as just relaxing your jaw muscles the very instant you feel them tighten, and to realize that whatever made the tighten is a False Alarm. Shake it off. It really does stop the cortisol rush. I think this too is a vestige of humanity’s primitive past, because we can imagine how many false alarms they had to deal with: sticks that look like snakes, trash pile scrap dogs that look like wolves, shadows in the twilight that look like bears. All these false alarms they catch in less than a second, and so they would need to shut off that Fight or Flight response, right? So they go instantly from clasped jaw to an open mouth gasp of relief. OPEN THAT MOUTH. Take a deep breath through the mouth. Remember, it has got to be instantaneous. You can practice turning on the Cortisol, to feel the jaws tighten and then instantly relaxing. What you do is take a pin and, well, I would say “stab the top of your other hand”, but for me at the moment of resolve to stab yourself you will feel your jaws tighten then IMMEDIATELY relax into an Open Mouth Inhale. Posters have written back saying this technique works.

Remember what I said about cortisol taking over a day to metabolize off. Well, some especially angry people have more than one anger episode per day. That keeps them permanently wound up. The gland that pumps out the cortisol, the amygdala, never really shuts down and it will eventually chronically seeps cortisol. This leads to constant day in day out stress and it is very damaging to one’s health and personality. If you are under this kind of chronic stress, well, you need to watch those jaw muscles. You have to start going days and weeks without flipping out, or even going into one of your loud speeches. Think of all the people who simply blend and fit in. There are several strategies for dealing with problems: we can avoid the problem by going where the problem cannot follow, or we can fix the problem, or we can adapt ourselves to the problem, that is, let the problem fix us. Avoidance can be very workable: some people rent instead of buy because if there is a problem it is much easier to move, and career people who have a very in-demand skill can quit jobs that become uncomfortable instead of having to deal with the crap. But, sometimes we are stuck in place and then our only two options is to either fix the problem or live with it. Anyway, while we would of course admire the Way of Action in actively Fixing the Problem, well, that is the greatest source of our Anger. Who knows, but maybe when we were young we had success in fixing problems with our pluck and ingenuity and got used to feeling more secure by being in control of our environment. But it is the frustrations of events beyond our control and objections and push backs to our being in control that provokesour anger. We become defensive and territorial like animals. Yes, there are cases where infants who have tantrums were allowed to succeed in such strategies and so anger as just pure Tantrum Behavior continues on as a conditioned habit (more on that later). But for most of us Angry People it is the frustration of our control and endeavor to fix every problem that leads to anger. What we need to do is appreciate how all those easy going people we know are able to just live in accommodation with the problems that get us so excited. Our personality type really doesn’t appreciate the value and skill involved with adapting to problems, but we need to reappraise all that. After all, there aren’t self help forums for people who are too easy going, is there?

Being Easy Going is really underrated, especially in the world of our jobs and careers. Even the Human Resources People and the Managers get it wrong in their motivational speeches and their presumptive belief attitudes, that they are looking for Self Starters and people who can take the initiative, you know, real problem solvers. In Job Interviews you are actually expected to present yourself like that: a real go getter . But then look at the people who actually succeed in the Workplace. They are the people that ‘go along to get along’. The people who just say “yes boss”. Just think how the Boss feels when you come up with a better idea than he thought of, that would require time and effort to implement. Why couldn’t you just mind your own business and “do your job” and let him do his. It is actually the Easy Going People that keep their jobs and move up the ladder, that is in every department but Sales and everybody knows Sales is for soulless predators. It is easy enough for us to intuit that for even the boss most of the time the Job is only a Job, and the important thing is just getting paid every other Friday. Stop making everything such big deal, right? The days shouldn’t be harder than they are already. It is only about money, right? But, yeah, paradoxically the last thing you want to tell the Job Interviewer is how easy going you are and you’ll be sure not to let anything at work really get you going enough to bother everybody else. That might be what they want but not what they want to hear. Well, part of learning how to accommodate the World is realizing how much of it is self-contradictory and inconsistent. But instead of outrage and trying to fix everything, learn to quietly smirk and be amused by it all.

When we can begin thinking of Long Term Anger Management that gets us into Cognitive Behavioral Therapies. The idea there is that over a lifetime we have built up thought and behavioral habits, some that serve us well and other that are always getting us into trouble. As I said before, people are predisposed to think that our ‘thinking’, you know, that voice in our head, is ‘Our True Self’ and has some kind of real credibility. But if listening to that voice in your head is always getting you into trouble, well, realize that you can TALK BACK. You can dispute your own thinking. You are allowed to have problems with your own habitual behaviors. You wouldn’t want to be “your true self” if that fixes you for the rest of your life as an unliked unloved obnoxious outcast, would you?

We must learn to Review and Reflect on everything we think and everything we do. You will soon realize that you have a kind of instinct for spotting bad thinking and bad behavior. But the next part is more difficult. To eliminate the bad is half the battle. We then have to replace the old conditioned obsolete patterns of thought and behavior with new thinking and new behavior patterns. Essentially that means we have to redefine ourselves. This is where Free Will begins to make actual sense. Con men and Actors are great at being able to adopt temporary personas to suite their own convenience. So when we start to pursue Cognitive Behavior Methodologies, at first to simply squelch the thoughts and conditionings that lead to anger, well, once we find it helping with the anger then, well, the method keeps going and we find ourselves honing ourselves more and more towards an ideal of our own conception.

Review, Reflect, Rehearse. Review our thinking and behavior, Reflect on whether they are suitable or optimal and imagine what might serve even better, Rehearse new thinking and new behaviors. Those are our important 3 R’s.

Ronald Potter-Efron discusses in his book “The Angry Brain” the idea of the brains plasticity, its ability to change and grow. Even new neurons are being created up until the day we die. Old neural complexes are re-purposed for new tasks. We can re-work our brains. But the proviso is that it takes daily effort and daily practice. The brain only reworks itself under pressure.
Many people think that Anger Management is just some instant Realization and a new Mind Set. Well, a good Conversion Experience helps, but you really need to put in the work. A good start, to keep your mind in the game every day, is to do an hour of Anger Management Reading or Workbook activities every day (90 minutes is better …. 90 minutes is sort of the target for FLOW activities… when your mind really lights up). Ronald Potte-Efron is a favorite Anger Management author but there are others. At first try to stay with authors who are actual Psychologists and working Therapists. There are many New Age Authors who do Anger Management but they are just roaming predators, publishing quickly whipped out books of cliques like they are checking off target demographics off a list. Their books are a product of about two weeks research and a lot of warm fuzzy BS (we have to listen to how Anger is Natural and Healthy as though they never really ever even thought about the purpose and basic first principle of Anger Management: that for angry people Anger is a really serious life destroying problem and the last thing we need is encouragement in self justifying such destructive behavior. But how can we expect those Warm and Fuzzy New Age Feel Gooders to know the first thing about Anger). But, yes, after reading all the good books, reading the horrible and stupid books is good also in the sense that you can use them to define how you yourself think about the subject matter.

Well, that should be enough to get you started. Everybody stay well.
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Postby Prycejosh1987 » Sat Dec 12, 2020 4:15 pm

This is true, Its also important to address the triggers of anger which stem from issues of the heart and perceived mentality.
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Postby Leo Volont » Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:07 pm

Prycejosh1987 wrote:This is true, Its also important to address the triggers of anger which stem from issues of the heart and perceived mentality.

By heart I suppose you mean emotions. Well, many psychologists believe that the emotions don't even get involved until mental schemas, the way view things in terms of past experiences and associations, perceive some threat, frustration or insult in a situation, a trigger.
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Postby sarasara » Sat Jan 30, 2021 10:50 am

When I am Anger, I breathe 3 times and then I feel so good. It is a short term solution.
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Postby Leo Volont » Sat Jan 30, 2021 1:15 pm

sarasara wrote:When I am Anger, I breathe 3 times and then I feel so good. It is a short term solution.

Hi Sarasara. That's interesting, that when you are angry you remember to "breath three times" and then you feel better. But can we get some clarification... some more details. Do you do that breathing immediately after you realize you are angry? Does the breathing trick work if you have been angry for a while? Are they deep breaths through the mouth? Do you do this breathing standing up or sitting down or don't you think that matters. Any details you can think of would help. We need to figure out why and how this breathing trick works.

There was a lady who took my advice about the relaxing the jaw muscles at the first sign of tightness. She commented that she also finds that her anger goes away if she remembers to breath through her mouth. I thought it had something to do with just opening the mouth, since one has to relax the jaw muscles to do that. But it might just have to do with the breathing. However, people are always breathing in some way or another. There must be something different in the way you breath those three times and the way we usually breath when we are angry. Jeepers, I hope I don't have to get angry just to see how I breath when I am in that state.

Thank you, Sarasara. I'll really have to follow up on this.
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Postby Leo Volont » Mon Apr 26, 2021 11:02 pm

Hello Everybody,

I came up with what might be a good incremental addition to our Anger Management arsenal. An Anger Management mantra. For those who don't know, mantras are syllables, words, or phrases traditionally repeated audibly or silently in order to derive some spiritual benefit. the Transcendental Meditation Corporation popularized the concept in the West. Often people use mantras to help them meditate. But what I was doing with them was de-spiritualizing the concept and the "mantra" I used to fall asleep was just silently counting up to 100 over and over again. The way it works is that the wandering mind can't really focus on more than one thing at a time. Initially there is a struggle between wayward thoughts and the count and when the count finally wins then you fall asleep after a while because the counting is so boring. With real mantras you also fall asleep but they call it Samadhi so you think you're getting your money's worth.

But I also was once taught the principles of auto-hypnosis and when you are very close to sleep, especially in that hypnagogic phase when subconscious imagery bubbles up, well, that is when you are most suggestable. At that hypnagogic stage the ability to keep repeating the mantra begins to break down but, in terms of auto-hypnotic suggestion if it is still going on at all then it successfully made it to that Borderland State between the Conscious and Subconscious mind.

So I decided to try a simple Anger Management Mantra which is still not solidly formulated yet. What I use is along the lines of "It's Good to Be Calm" or "It's Best to Remain Calm" or "Being Calm Is a Good Thing". Who knows, maybe variety is a good thing here.

Does the idea show any effectiveness in terms of Anger Management? Well, I did have one small issue. One of my older cats, whether from natural senility or because he's had too many operations in his lifetime and the Vets are not as careful about Oxygen Blood Levels in cats as they are for people, well, Old Foxxy has taken to YOWLING about every little thing. And I am a budding Mathematician and often need to concentrate. Foxxy was quite annoying. I was chasing him under the kitchen counters. But since I started using the Mantra, well, I seem more ready to engage with Foxxy and find out if he has any reason for yowling that I could help with. If not then he often yowls now just so I will open the doors for the kitchen counters which he might prefer to being left out with the other 6 cats. But perhaps we can get some feedback from somebody who has more serious issues he or she is dealing with.

But if you already need a way to break through wayward thoughts when you are trying to get to sleep, AND you have Anger Management Issues, then instead of "counting sheep" make up some kind of a short and sweet Anger Management Mantra for yourself.
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