The next time you’re feeling sad, guilty, remorseful, or even angry at yourself for lashing out a loved one, consider this:1.) We all have those moments when anger gets the best of us. It’s important to remember to try our best next time to be more skillful. What we say and do matters. That is because WE matter. And so do other people. Words can be so powerful and have a long and lasting impact. Let’s choose them wisely and carefully.2.) Dr. Marsha Linehan, founder of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) says that “everything has cause.” The fact that you lashed out was not random. There were circumstances, vulnerabilities, interpretations, and so many other variables that happened before that moment.If you recently had an incident like this, take a look at Emotion Regulation Worksheet 1a. This form helps walk you through your reaction and helps you to understand the contributing factors to how you reacted. It also gives you the opportunity to extend compassion to yourself and to reflect on how you plan to cope the next time you are faced with a potentially angering situation.3.) Anger is a common emotion to all humans. It’s how we handle it that matters. Emotion Regulation Handout 4 lists some prompting events for feeling the emotion of anger:
- “Having an important goal blocked or prevented
- Having an important or pleasurable activity interrupted, postponed, or stopped
- You or someone you care about being attacked or hurt physically or emotionally by others
- You or someone you care about being threatened with physical or emotional pain by someone or something
- You or someone you care about being insulted
- Losing power
- Losing status
- Losing respect
- Not having things turn out the way you expected
- Experiencing physical pain
- Experiencing Emotional Pain
- Not obtaining something you want (which another person has)”
(The above list is from page 29 of Dr. Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training for Disordered Emotion Regulation, in press). Dr. Linehan also wrote Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder.)
- Gently avoid the person you are angry with (as opposed to attacking them)
- Take a time out and breath in and out slowly
- Do the OPPOSITE of other angry urges
(above modified from page 50 of Dr. Marsha Linehan’s Skills Training for Disordered Emotion Regulation, in press).
- Trying to understand or empathize with the other person, seeing the ordeal from his or her perspective
- Change your posture so that you are more relaxed. Try half-smiling.
- Change body chemistry by breathing slowly, running or doing something else that is high energy and non-violent
What do you currently do when you get angry?