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Anger Management And Your World View

from: Dr Joe James - Guest contributor

Problems with anger management can often be traced to individuals seeing the same situation in different lights. If you are from Detroit, you are probably going to see things differently than someone from Eastaboga, AL. It's the life experiences you have - being the class clown vs. being a wall flower, being a musician vs. a football hero, being the first child or last, etc...-that provide you with a certain way of looking at things.

The take home message is to understand that you have one that is unique to you and is based upon the experiences that you have had in life. I'm suggesting that your life has led you to see things in a way that is as personal to you as your fingerprints. Anger management issues are often the result of a natural expectation that everyone else sees the world the same way we do.

It's very human to be so sure that the way you experience something is the correct version of what happened. What just happened seems clear as a bell to us. It's not natural for any of us to tell ourselves "Well, I'm struggling with anger management right now because my world view is different than his world view". Instead we tend to just react and think "how can you be so blind to the truth?" and all of a sudden we need an anger management course.

More often than not, our brains are functioning in automatic mode. Compare how much you are tuned in to exactly what you are thinking vs. when you were learning how to drive a car. You were thinking about every single thing you did. Now, you are completely tuned out, you are just on auto-pilot.

Struggles with anger management often occur because of habitual thinking. So, what is one to do to get a grip on anger management?

It's simple as S-I-R!

Stimulus - Interpretation - Response

Anger Management and Mental Shortcuts

All of us use automatic thinking so that we can make sense of things. From a mental processing perspective, automatic thinking is very useful. Unfortunately, in the real world it can cause us to miss important cues and anger management problems develop as a result. Let's look at an example of automatic thinking along with some ways to look at things differently.

"All-or-Nothing Thinking" involves thinking in extremes. No middle ground or partial credit is awarded to people for their efforts. Think of the coach of a high jumper who sets the bar very high and considers his protg a loser for not making it over.

Most people function in the middle range most of the time. No one excels in all things at all times, even Michael Jordan and Barry Sanders had their off days. Falling short of perfection makes us human, not worthless. All you can do is your best. If you are already committed to doing your best then worrying or condemning yourself adds nothing to your performance. It will only distract you and take the joy out of the moment.

Questions to Ask Yourself to Challenge All or Nothing Thinking

Rating performance on a scale of 1 to 10 helps correct this distortion. For example, "I performed at about 80 percent today" (Notice that we are rating performance and not people as a whole, which is too complex to rate).

Redefine success as being based on effort rather than achievement of perfection. After all, effort is all we really have control over in many situations in life. Too often, we may get upset by outcomes over which we have very little control. Even in athletics or business there are limits. In sports, you just may not have the genes to run a four minute mile. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try your best, it just means that is what you should judge yourself on.

About The Author

For more free information on anger management visit

Dr Joe James is a psychologist who is the developer of several online anger management classes

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