Dan Trathen DMin, PhD Clinical Psychologist & Certified Business & Life Coach

Take Personal Responsibility for your Anger


As important As important as immediate skills and an immediate plan are to stop anger when it escalates, what is our plan for anger long term? There are far too many people today that still say, “he or she made me angry” and don’t get The connection between taking personal responsibility of their own emotions. After all, as Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “things don’t change, we change.” Any decision to do personal change cannot just be an idea, no matter how noble. It must have a plan of action and ways to implement that plan. Every plan has a beginning step. Change happens when we see the next step and rehearse that next step over and over. Seeing in our mind’s eye the situation playing out and seeing ourselves taking a time out when we get, let’s say, to a 3 or 4 on a 10 point scale. Some of us have higher frustration tolerances then others. If yours is low, you will need to take a “time out” on yourself quicker knowing that you can escalate quickly. Once we escalate it is really difficult to get back to a baseline while we are in the argument. The first step is rehearsing taking a time out on less intense frustrations. Say to person who you are engaged in a argument something like, “I can feel myself getting more frustrated with our discussion and do not want to make matter worse. “I think I’ll take a time out on myself for an hour and then see if I can continue this discussion.” The next step is to realize that arguing and conflict can occur when we are tired and our brain is overloaded. It is best to set a rule that you will not engage in any heated discussions past 8 or 9pm and agree to this with the other person. Remind yourself and/or the other person of this agreed upon rule when difficult discussions emerge later in the evening. The next step is to set agreed upon time limits on the duration of the difficult discussions. Some people can go on and on and say the same thing 10 different ways without realizing they are doing this. Difficult discussions do not get more resolved the longer one argues. In fact, a time of objectivity is often helpful to gain further clarity. The final short step in this VLOG is to seek to validate what the other person is saying before we seek to be understood. Feeling like we are being heard goes a long way to clarity and mutual understanding. Remember, anger is just anger. It isn’t good. It isn’t bad. It just is. What you do with it is what matters. It’s like anything else. You can use it to build or to destroy.You just have to make the choice.

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