Thursday, January 17, 2008

Just a little tidbit i wanted to share....

information gathered from the Pritikin longevity website,

Most people incorrectly believe that other people and events make them angry, locating the cause of anger outside themselves. The truth is that our beliefs and assumptions create anger. We may not like a particular behavior of our partner, friend, child, or colleague, but it is our interpretation of that behavior rather than the behavior itself that determines how we feel.
Below are some of the assumptions that can trigger anger as surely as a red flag provokes a bull! But if we think about them, we can see that they are not based on fact or experience. If we don’t add these assumptions to behaviors and events, we may be displeased or disappointed, but we can remain calm and assess situations rationally.

Assumption #1: Life should be fair.Fact: We know that bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. So much for fairness.

Assumption #2: We can control the behavior of others. Fact: It’s hard enough to control our own behavior, for example, eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking. Have you ever successfully coerced an unwilling partner into changing his or her habits?

Assumption #3: People who hurt us should be punished. Fact: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Do you really believe that doling out punishment improves the quality of your life or relationships? Experience and wisdom tells us that:

1) Most people who hurt our feelings do so out of lack of social skills or self-esteem, which merits sympathy, not rage; and

2) In the all-too-common case of divorce, if you feel wronged, don’t wish your partner ill, wish yourself well! As novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: “Living well is the best revenge.” So make your own life wonderful instead of making someone else’s miserable.

Assumption #4: Our way is the right way. Fact: There is no right way; there is your way and her way. Assuming that one way is superior is judgmental, implying there is only one correct method.

Assumption #5: We are entitled to what we want. Fact: It sure would be nice, but no one is entitled to what he or she wants. Luck is another fallacy. We make our own luck and reap it when preparation meets opportunity.

Nine strategies for freeing yourself from angry feelings
1. Begin by identifying recurring situations that trigger your anger.
2. Challenge trigger thoughts.
Replace trigger thoughts (“She should have tried harder”) with coping statements (“Other people are not obligated to meet my expectations”). Make up your own coping statements for situations that tend to anger you and substitute them for your usual inflammatory self-talk. For example, if you always get annoyed with your spouse because he does not like to discuss disagreements right away, say to yourself, “He needs some time to relax and calm down. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. We can talk about it later today.”
3. Practice stress management techniques.

A stressed person is more likely to lose control in an emotionally-charged exchange. Practice relaxation using techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and diaphragmatic breathing, taught at Pritikin. They can elicit what Dr. Herbert Benson, Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and Director of the Mind Body Institute in Massachusetts named the “Relaxation Response.”

Achieving a state of relaxation combats the effects of the Fight or Flight Response. The Relaxation Response has been scientifically documented to dramatically decrease heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and muscle tension.

New to this? To get started, here is one simple method: Find a quiet place. Sit down and close your eyes for about 10 minutes. Take deep long diaphragmatic (from the belly) breaths. You can also practice diaphragmatic breathing using the word “calm” on the in breath, and “relaxed” on the out breath. Six to eight breaths a minute, practiced for a total of 10 minutes, will very likely get you into the relaxation zone. “Do this twice a day, and frequent anger could become a thing of the past,” counsels Dr. Grober.

4. Learn to resolve rather than escalate conflicts.
Use kind, clear communication. In conflicts, don’t treat loved ones and friends like the enemy. Remember the many reasons you love them, and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want said to you.

Avoid judgments (“You’re playing the victim”) and labels (“You’re stupid”) because they refer to the person, not the behaviors that distress you.

Another tip: Don’t bring the past into the present. Are you an “injustice collector,” someone who remembers every hurt or disappointment? Instead, stay in the moment. Don’t bring up ancient history or other unrelated complaints when you’re angry or displeased. Dealing with the moment – and only the moment – will reduce your anger and pain. It will also make it easier for your loved one to really hear and consider your current problem.

5. Take a timeout.
If you are involved in a discussion that is turning into a shouting match, remove yourself from the situation for five minutes or as long as you and your partner need to calm down and diffuse anger. Just make sure to communicate what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. And always keep your word that “we’ll finish this conversation later.”

6. Don’t assume.
Presuming to know someone else’s feelings or motivations leads to misunderstanding and is disrespectful. No matter how close you are, you can’t know everything about someone else.

7. Acquire assertiveness skills.
People who are assertive ask for what they want, set limits, express their opinions, and feel in control. Assertive people are less angry people because they are taking care of themselves. Learn the difference between passivity, passive-aggression, aggression, and assertion. Passive people don’t ask for what they need and may not even know themselves well enough to identify what they need. Passive-aggressive people “act as if” they don’t have needs; they don’t get mad, they get even! Aggressive people are disliked and/or ignored. Only healthy assertion reduces anger.

8. Problem-solve at work and at home.
Conflict is best resolved through rational discussions of options. With family or colleagues, list a variety of solutions to problems without pre-judging people or problems. Together, discuss the pros and cons of each solution. Given the choices, select the course of action that you all agree is best.
9. Practice taking the other person’s point of view.
Empathy and understanding are potent antidotes to anger and enhance the quality of your relationships.

A new life…
Gain knowledge of these skills, practice them, and gain control of your anger. Next time you see red, don’t charge ahead with passion; sit down with your thoughts. Breathe. Think about consequences.
And consider the belief of many mental health professionals and philosophers, expressed so eloquently by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize: “Taming the mind is the most important task of one’s life.”

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