Concept of the Month -- May 2002

Working to Eliminate Anger

Anger alienates other people and interferes with effective problem solving. Ignore the conventional wisdom of ventilating anger because giving expression to anger is destructive.  Also forget the objective of finding a better way to express anger in a "socially acceptable manner."  Consider instead the following.  At the basis of anger is fear  -- the fear of not being in control, the fear that an expectation (usually an unrealistic one) will not be met. When a person's thinking becomes realistic, there is less anger to contend with. A highly worthwhile objective then is to have a less angry person. It is a myth that either one keeps anger in (only to eventually explode or get an ulcer) or else to give vent to it and hurt others.  Consider a-n-g-e-r  is one letter short of d-a-n-g-e-r.  Let's reduce anger, not bottle it up or ventilate it.

Thus, in order to help ourselves and others (e.g., our clients) be less angry, ask the following:

1. What am I afraid of ?

2. Is or was my expectation unrealistic?

3. Is this a "control" issue?

Asking these questions can foster more realistic thinking and thus reduce anger.

Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.

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