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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