Anger Management Techniques – What Makes for Good Ones?
Most anger management techniques don’t work. Why? Oftentimes it’s because most anger management techniques approach the problem from only one perspective. You’re probably familiar with some of these skills – count to ten, take a step back and think about things, try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
These are important and useful anger management techniques but they only work at one aspect of the problem. For an anger management course to be truly effective you must first understand what makes people angry.
After years of research and working with over a thousand clients I have come to believe that there are four factors that go into creating effective anger management techniques.
1) The Brain: There are parts of our brains whose job is to determine if a situation is dangerous or threatening. Many people who struggle with anger have an overly sensitive “threat filter” which puts them on high alert before they have had a chance to really think a situation through.
There are two anger management techniques to dealing with biology that, when used in combination, are very effective. The first is to learn the early warning signs of anger and then use some very simple acupressure skills that can not only calm one down in a matter of minutes but keep you in there for as long as several hours.
The second approach involves using herbal supplements such as SAM-e, Vitamin D, Fish Oil and Valerian Root. All of these supplements are available over the counter at your local drug or health food store and work to put reset your threat filter to a normal level. In my experience, these supplements are oftentimes more effective than prescription medications without all the side effects and cost that come with prescribed drugs.
2) Your History: Why is it that something is very upsetting to one person but not another? Oftentimes it is related to our history. Through experience, each of us has learned to perceive certain situations as threatening or triggering. Since we have all had different life experiences we each see different things as upsetting. An effective anger management course should a) develop a comprehensive list of anger triggers
; b) try to trace back where those anger triggers come from and c) develop new anger management techniques to deal with the triggers. Sometimes just recognizing that a trigger has more to do with the past than the present is a great anger management technique in and of itself.
3) Mental Shortcuts: Ever get angry about something only to learn later that you read the situation or other person wrong? Did you know that much of the time we use mental shortcuts to figure out what is going on around us? Usually, these shortcuts are very efficient ways of dealing with life. After all, if we really thought in depth about everything going on around us our brains would very quickly become overwhelmed. The problem with mental shortcuts in those who struggle with anger management is that they may cause you to either misperceive a situation or give you tunnel vision which limits your ability to think through all of your options. An important part of any anger management course should involve teaching you to identify your mental shortcuts and show you how to avoid using them in the future. These can serve as wonderful anger management techniques.
4) Dealing with Others: Insight and self management techniques are important, but only half the battle. You can use the first three horsemen to keep yourself cool, but that still doesn’t help you in dealing with difficult people in non-confrontational ways. How do you ask somebody to change an annoying behavior without provoking a fight? How do you gracefully exit a tense situation? How do you offer or receive criticism in a way that’s not going to escalate? A good anger management course should provide you with some very easy to learn tools to help you deal with those difficult people that all of us are going to run into in life.
More tips about dealing with anger problems can be found in our free anger management introductory class.
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