|TEN STEP PLAN FOR ANGER MANAGEMENT
By William G.
As found in Dr. DeFoore's best-selling book, Anger: Deal With It, Heal With It, Stop It From Killing You.
Note: Throughout the "10-Step Plan" you will find reference to chapter numbers, which refers to the chapters in ANGER: Deal With It, Heal With It, Stop It From Killing You.
Step One: Call a Truce With Anger
Designed for your protection and safety, anger is originally and ultimately your friend and ally. Until you accept anger as a valid part of who you are, you will be at war with your anger and yourself. Tasks for this step include:
1. Understand the definition of anger as a protective emotion
Begin to consider ways in which anger can be useful and positive.
Chapter 2 goes into detail about the definition of anger and its basic function. You will read throughout this book about how anger can be destructive and unhealthy. Chapter 14 is entirely devoted to the topic of healthy anger and how it can ultimately help you reach your goals and realize your dreams.
Step Two: Make the Anger-Love Connection
Anger does the most harm when it is disconnected from the other basic emotions. Anger springs immediately from pain and fear, and ultimately from love. When anger is connected with love, it becomes courageous action. Tasks for this step include:
1. Recognize the relationship between anger, fear, pain and love.
2. Identify the difference between action motivated by fear and action motivated by love.
3. Begin to consider how anger shows up when it is felt and expressed in conjunction with love.
4. Understand that courage is a result of the anger-love connection.
Explore these relationships in detail in Chapter 2, specifically as illustrated in Figure 2.2, and in the sections entitled “Love is the fuel for the fire of anger” and “That’s my tongue on that pole.” You will find a great example of anger as courageous action based on love in the same chapter in the section entitled “I’m so mad I could lift a Chevy.”
Step Three: Re-Wire Your Hot Buttons
Your "hot buttons" are your "sore spots," your sensitivities, your vulnerabilities, your "hang ups," or your weaknesses that are best known by the ones closest to you. If you don't know your hot buttons, then those who do can work you like a puppet on a string. Rest assured that your spouse, your children, your friends and your closest work associates know your buttons. If these significant people know your sore spots better than you do, you may often feel like a victim in those relationships. So, your tasks for this step include:
1. Identify your hot buttons.
-What are your greatest fears?
-When do you get the angriest?
-What makes you the most depressed and/or withdrawn?
-What actions of others can you just not tolerate?
-What subjects can you not discuss without getting irrational and/or overemotional?
-In what situations are you most likely to shut down, pull away, react emotionally or blow up?
-What is your "Achilles heal"?
2. Trace these current experiences back through your life experience, looking for memories and "stories" that help to explain these reaction patterns that are uniquely yours.
3. List these stories chronologically, to the best of your ability.
Through this process, you are tracing the "wiring" that makes your buttons "hot." As you work with and re-work these memories through the processes outlined in this book—Chapters 8 and 9 are specifically designed to help you with this process—you will be re-wiring your hot buttons. This will give you the freedom to:
1. Make conscious choices about how to respond when someone "pushes your hot button"
2. Manage your emotions more effectively so that they are not overwhelming to you
3. Keep your anger level between 0 and 3 on the Anger Management Assessment.
4. Think clearly and make good decisions even when your are highly emotional
By re-wiring your hot buttons you are making tremendous strides toward taking charge of your life. You are beginning the process of "turning your dirt into gold" and transforming your weaknesses into strengths.
Step Four: Tell Your Story
Your story is your memory of those life experiences that made you who you are today. It consists of "the best of times and the worst of times."
You remember those experiences because of the powerful emotions associated with them, such as deep pain and sorrow or great joy and tremendous love. Those experiences are formative, in that they impact us so deeply that we are literally changed, molded and shaped by them. Here are some suggestions of ways to tell your story:
1. Tell it to yourself—write down all of the memories and life experiences you consider to be significant, meaningful, important, powerful, traumatic, uplifting, or inspiring.
Tell your story to a trusted friend. You can do this in segments, as it is actually a fairly lengthy process. If you already do this, then ask yourself, "What have I not told, and why?"
3. Tell your story to a family member. One way to facilitate this is to ask for their stories as well, and then you can do some story swapping. The board game "Life Stories" can be very helpful in this process (www.toysrus.com, 2003).
Use fairy tales, myths, books, or movies that have had special meaning for you as a "springboard" for your storytelling. You can find your "personal myth" by weaving your own life story around the themes you discover in these "old favorites" from your past (McAdams, 1997).
You may choose to work with a personal coach, confidant, mentor or counselor in this process. Depending on the amount of intense emotion and/or confusion you have regarding your stories/memories, you may benefit from having a listener who is objective, supportive and in some cases professionally trained.
Consider this a life-long process. Your life story is a treasure-trove of riches for self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-mastery and powerful emotional energy if you choose to use it as such. Unexamined, your past can be a burden of heavy baggage, or you can choose to make it a springboard for future success. The choice is yours.
Step Five: Get Good At Grieving
Much of the anger we see and feel in this world is a result of unacknowledged loss and unresolved grief. Grief is part of life. The older we get, the more we experience death and loss of all kinds. These are facts.
It is also a fact that grieving is an act of love. In Chapter 9 you will find a full discussion of this topic, including a list of the various kinds of losses we experience in life. You can use the many exercises, rituals and ceremonies provided to facilitate your own grieving process. When you get good at grieving, you will have less fear of loss and therefore less fear of deep love and intimacy. This will give you more personal freedom and flexibility in all aspects of life.
To learn about the NEXT FIVE STEPS, buy the book now!