Most people have a problem with anger these days. Maybe it's because there are so many demands on us and our mind gets pulled in many directions on a daily basis making it difficult to keep a peaceful mind.
So what practical steps can we do to help us remain more in control of our mind and maintain more peace? Here are ten time-tested techniques for effective anger management:
1. Reverse the Feelings
This is a very interesting method that was discovered by Dr. Richard Bandler. It works on the fact that to experience feelings such as anger you will feel feelings moving in your body somewhere: Feelings are never static or stationary.
Begin by thinking of an occasion where you experienced anger.
A. Become aware of where those feelings are in your body. Where does the feeling start and where does it go?
B. Now take the feeling and push it out a couple of feet in front of you. (I know this sounds weird. Just act as if you can do it, because you can.)
C. Turn it inside out and spin it the other way and bring it back inside. If it helps, pretend you can do it and so it is!
D. Keep it spinning fast whilst imagining doing the thing that used to make you feel anger.
2. 'Micky Mouse' those Critical, Angry Voices!
A. Think of that internal voice you sometimes get that is overly critical of yourself and others. You know the one!
B. Listen to it go on and on as you change it into a cartoon voice. How does your reaction to it change by hearing it in the voice of Porky Pig? Silvester The Cat? Daffy Duck?
C. Try speeding the voice up or slowing it down.
D. Have fun with this.
Imagine several future situations that this critical voice may arise and imagine 'Micky Mouse-ing' the voice in that situation.
3. Positive intention?
A. Think of an occasion where you got angry.
B. Ask yourself, "What was the positive intention behind the anger?" And then ask, "and what was important about that?" Keep asking the question until you discover a genuine positive intention.
C. "In the future how can I express this intention in a better way?"
A. Remember an experience where you got a bit irritated.
B. Now disassociate so you can see yourself in the experience.
C. Push the picture further off into the distance. So you literally "get some distance from it," and have a new perspective!
D. Notice how you can now look at the experience more objectively and gain new understanding and insights. And what happens if you were to ask yourself, "What was the positive intention of myself and the other people involved?"
5. Double Disassociation
This is the same as the above technique with another added disassociation:
You imagine watching yourself watching that you in the situation.
You got to give this a go, it's really amazing, you can even reduce that most retched of emotions, jealousy, with this simple visualisation!
6. Patience for the Future
Just think any time we get angry it's due to a trigger or stimulus. There is a gap between the stimulus and our response. It's in this gap that we choose our response. Often though it happens quickly. Automatically.
We can 're-train' our minds to have a more appropriate response that will enable us to be more resourceful.
A. What's it like when you experience a feeling of patience? Remember a time that you patiently accepted what ever was happening. What did you see, what did you hear and how did that feel?
Notice how the feelings move.
B. Think of 3 future situations where it would be likely that you would experience annoyance or irritation.
C. What is it that you see or hear just before you know when to feel the agitation?
D. OK shake that feeling off and now remember the feeling of patience from step A
E. Now imagine taking this feeling of patience into those future situations.
How's that feel?
7. Reframing a Picture Literally
A. Remember an occasion where you got angry.
B. Disassociate: See your self in the picture.
C. Now put a frame around the picture.
How does your response to the situation change when you put a wooden frame around it? What about a metal frame? A multi-coloured frame. An oval frame? How about a colourful frame with balloons hanging from it?
8. Perceptual positions
It's always useful to gain other perspectives on things. More often than not, when we're angry we are stuck in one perceptual position.
A. Remember an experience where you were angry with someone.
B. Notice what you saw and heard and felt.
C. Now step into there shoes: Pretend to see through there eyes, hear through there ears and feel the feelings. Notice that you in front of you. What else can you discover and learn from this perspective?
D. Imagine stepping into a 'neutral observer.' So you can simply observe that you and the other person over there. What can you learn from this position?
E. Step back into 'you' again and notice what new learnings and insights you now have. Chances are good that you now have more understanding and empathy with the other person.
9. Collapsing Anchors
A. Select an angry feeling you want to change. As you feel it squeeze your finger and thumb on your left hand to anchor this state.
B. On an intensity scale of 0 to 10, where is this feeling?
C. Break state. Now think about what you would like to feel instead. What would make you remain in a more resourceful state? Relaxation? Humour? Etc.
D. Now choose one of the resourceful states you have come up with and remember a time you felt that resource strongly. What does this resourceful state feel like?
E. Remembering that resourceful state, anchor it to your right hand by squeezing your finger and thumb together. (If you want you can stack resources together by going to step 4 again and anchoring a different resource state.)
F. On an intensity scale of 0 to 10, where is this feeling? Important: Make sure that this resourceful feeling is more intense than the angry feeling.
G. Break state. Now squeeze your left hand finger and thumb anchor, hold it, at the same time as you squeeze the right hand finger and thumb anchor. Keep both anchors on for a few seconds, say 7 seconds. (Note: Many people get a sense when the anchors have 'collapsed' or integrated, often by a noticeable shift in breathing.)
H. Release the left hand anchor and just hold the right hand anchor for a couple of seconds.
I. Break state. Now think of the original fear you selected in step 1 and become aware of how it's changed!
10. Circus/Cartoon Movie Music
A. Think of a memory or a future situation where you want to lighten the mood.
B. Look at it like a movie so you can see yourself whilst hearing loud circus (or cartoon) music in the background.
C. Run the movie backwards, from the end, with the music playing loudly.
D. Now notice how your mood has lightened about the situation you choose in Step 1.
Why not do this on several memories and/or future events?
If you have applied some of the techniques, above, you will have re-programmed some of your 'bad habits' and can look forward to a more peaceful, anger managed future! And the great thing about many of these tools is that you can use them right away and experience effective results within minutes.
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