Some of us get angrier when we talk about our anger, so it is wise to dig deeper, to primary feelings such as hurt, guilt, or shame.
We are continuing with the items described last month in our anger journal. The purpose of the journal is to track our anger so that we express it more appropriately. We are to answer the following questions as we experience anger:
2. What happened that made you
angry? What were the triggers?
What hot buttons were pushed?
3. What other feelings did you
Commentary: Some of us get angrier when we talk about our anger, so it is wise to dig deeper, to primary feelings such as hurt, guilt, or shame. If we focus on our primary feelings, we will find ourselves expressing anger in less destructive ways. We might ask ourselves, 'If I were not angry, what would I be feeling right now?' Other feelings might be:
'I feel so powerless.'
'I feel belittled.'
'I feel stupid.'
'I feel threatened.'
'I feel attacked.'
'I feel embarrassed.'
'I feel violated.'
'I feel guilty.'
'I feel unappreciated.'
'I feel _________________'
4. Who was involved?
Describe the characteristics of the person(s) and what it is about them that angers you.
Commentary: As we describe the person(s) we are in conflict with, we may discover he/she has traits of our own which we do not like. 'Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves'(Carl Jung). The people who angered us may have the same irritating traits as members of our family of origin. Traits may include a need to control, passive/aggressiveness, hypercritical attitude, etc. The person we're currently in conflict with may be getting more anger than he/she deserves! We may find ourselves reacting as we did when we were in conflict with the person from our past.
5. What was your interpretation of what happened?
Commentary: Remember that thoughts and feelings are connected. Our feelings come from our thoughts and interpretations. Sometimes we engage in faulty thinking: that is, negative or distorted thinking that may produce a wrong interpretation.
(1) All-or-nothing thinking: if our partner criticizes us, we let it say everything about who we are, our relationship or the ways we relate as a spouse or parent.
(2) Dwelling: we obsess about what happened and go over it again and again.
(3) Magnifying or catastrophizing or minimizing: we make a mountain out of a molehill, or turn it into a life-and-death situation, or minimize our qualities or our partner's.
(4) Emotional Reasoning: we think because we feel it, it must be true.
(5) Mind Reading: we try to read what another is thinking and why he or she is doing what they are doing (see Aaron Beck's works)
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700