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In my introductory blog, I stated that my dogs might teach me something, and they did by staying calm, cool and collected. Yes, I’ve seen this behavior innumerable times, however, on this occasion, I needed, not only to observe the same but implement this behavior for myself and my stability.

Last week I had my third session with a client, addressing his responses to his episodes of anger. We had made so much headway and he has improved so much; not only does he have the tools to utilize he is implementing and displaying proper controls. I felt proud of his accomplishments, thus far, so we decided that if my services were needed again he’d call me.

Now being proud of him and his accomplishments was one thing. Driving home, I was enjoying some delusional thinking; maybe I was gifted with “healing hands.” “Boy, I am something” should not be entering my belief system. It never got that far, because it was short lived, as you’ll see.

The very next day I made a phone call to a friend (now possibly a former friend) and without going into details I exploded, using language I shouldn’t have, breaking all the rules on how not to deal with anger. Later the next evening I was still upset. I was mulling over my missteps while watching our dogs, how they stretched to relax, they didn’t seem to have a single stressed muscle in their body, just taking life as it comes, while I was still totally stressed, muscles tense, heart beating quickly, etc.

Our dogs have demonstrated aggressiveness towards other dogs a few times, once or twice, in the years we’ve had them, but once it’s over, it’s over. Ah, an epiphany moment. The longer I observed the dogs calmness, the more I realized that I was completely off base with my thoughts and beliefs. I made a phone call, due to circumstances meeting face-to-face was impossible with the recipient of my fury, and apologized profusely. This unfortunate event lead to a few anger managing principles entering my rather scorched brain, one (me) can use to decrease the intensity of their (my) anger.

●Pay attention to your physical & mental cues. They are excellent warning signs telling you your anger is escalating. Some physical cues are; increased heart rate, face, and neck feeling flushed or warm, your muscles becoming tense. Mental cues may be thoughts on how you can get even or how you are going to pay back the person or thing at which you are so angry.

●Slowly take deep breaths-breathe in through your nose while telling yourself you’re breathing in calmness. Hold your breath; slowly counting to four. Gently, expel the air from your mouth while saying to yourself you are riding yourself of tension, stress, anger or whatever word(s) work for you. Repeat, a minimum of three times in succession.

●Self-talk means exactly that, repeating words or phrases to yourself, such as, “calm down,” “relax,” “Is this worth this amount of anger.”

●An angry outburst. Will throwing a tantrum, make things better? More often than not it makes your situation worse and at the very least you probably look foolish in the process.

●Assertiveness is the only form of communication that offers the possibility of a win-win outcome. Assertiveness has to include three basic components. How you FEEL about a situation, the SPECIFIC SITUATION you’re discussing now and the CONSEQUENCES for you. *

*My aforementioned experience mentioned me using aggressiveness. I didn’t state how I felt about an event, I talked about them and what they did or didn’t do thereby making a judgment of them. At this point, I had absolutely no concern for their thoughts or feelings. If not all, the majority of anger events start with the word “you” rather than how “I” feel. It’s “you”, did or didn’t do this, or “you’re” this or not this, etc., etc., etc. At closing, I gave the consequences to them by threatening not to use their services in the future. In assertiveness, I should have addressed the consequences for me, e.g., “I feel hurt about the situation at hand.”
How easy it is to forget to let one’s emotions to override intellect. The best formula to keep in mind is:
I/E----Intellect over Emotion.