When Anger Hurts: Quieting the Storm Within, 2nd Edition

Category: Anger Management
Author: Matthew McKay PhD, Peter D. Rogers, Judith McKay
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by specialist   2021-01-01
The book When Anger Hurts changed my life. https://www.amazon.com/When-Anger-Hurts-Quieting-Within/dp/1...

Thesis is that anger is the result of a cascade.

Expectations -> Disappointment -> Resentment -> Blame -> Anger

(From memory, will update if needed.)

So the trick is update one's expectations, short circuit the cascade before it can even start.

Separately, I learned that we can only replace habits with new habits, vs unlearn habits. Completely out of ideas, I faked being happy. One day I woke up, said to myself "Phenomenal!", and truly meant it. I was shocked that it worked. My whole transformation took about three years. YMMV. (Maybe having a life coach would work faster.)

by specialist   2020-05-02
"...when I was trying hard to figure out how to put down my anger instead of continuing to cling to it."

McKay's book When Anger Hurts got me onto the right path. https://www.amazon.com/When-Anger-Hurts-Quieting-Within/dp/1... TLDR: Anger starts with expectations. Which leads to disappointment, resentment, blame, and then lands on anger. I keep hoping for followups; surely the state of the art has progressed since.

The next plateau for me was figuring out how to unlearn my anger habit. I heard that habits can only be replaced. So I decided to pretend being happy, positive. Why not? Nothing else worked and I was out ideas.

I was really surprised that it worked.

Next plateau for me was dealing with anxiety. Maybe half of my symptoms had a physiological origin. Only discovered after a lumbar fusion and my anxiety was mostly gone. In retrospect, I'm grumpy for all the wasted effort and misc treatments endured (eg SSRIs).

I still don't have much clue about dealing with trauma, PTSD. I'd like to try psychotropics (shrooms, MDMA), but have had trouble finding trustworthy suppliers.

--

Thanks to u/Dowwie for Bone's Feeling Good tip. Somehow hadn't seen that before. Will try it.

by napjerks   2018-11-10

Do what you would want to do anyway and friends will come along. You have to socialize better with them. If you're walking around mentally hating on people all day, that will be reflected in your face, body language and general demeanor. So check those negative thoughts. For two weeks straight try to stop negative thoughts as soon as they happen.

Anger is something that builds up over time. It's called a secondary emotion because other emotions fester and get mixed up creating a huge tangled ball of mess that blows up as anger. So that's why checking your thoughts and how you feel physically throughout the day helps. Just stop for a minute and ask "how do I feel"? if you are even slightly agitated, start really paying attention to what emotions, feelings, thoughts you've been having the last few minutes or hours. Then ask yourself, are these reasonable or are they a little over the top? Books like Anger Management for Dummies help with learning that process. It's a really valuable technique for evaluating our mood and checking whether it lines up with reality. And when it doesn't we just have to acknowledge it and learn to relax.

> ugly ass nerds

That's pretty negative. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, remember? So you want to realize those nerds obviously have qualities that make them interesting to talk to. Try to stop throwing everyone into categories. Nerd, geek, dork, whatever. Get rid of the categories and allow people to surprise you. Try to remember unique things you learn about people. That person is really good at math. That person can draw. Things like that will help appreciate them for who they are inside.

And yes, it hurts when you want a relationship but don't have one and keep seeing couples holding hands walking around campus. It's truly sucks! But remember every single person on the planet has been there. When you see a couple like that, wish them well. This goes against what you have been doing but in just the right way. Say to yourself "wow, good for them, I hope they are happy together." Let these kinds of good will thoughts change your habitual negative way of thinking.

Gratitude is a strong antidote to jealousy and frustration. List out the things you can be happy for. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion. Try to nip it in the bud by stopping those negative thoughts and being thankful for what you have.

> now she probably thinks i am a weird

"What other people think of me is none of my business." There has never been a more truthful statement when it comes to trying to let go of anger. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop making assumptions about whether a specific person will like you or not. Stop wasting time making up stories in your head about what others think of you after you've had an interaction with them. It's a huge waste of energy and time. Put your energies into the present moment and planning what you are going to do tomorrow, next week and the future. Books like Thriving with Social Anxiety are helpful for that.

> the feeling of being rejected by many people makes me a hateful, bitter dude

Were you really rejected or did you just have a normal conversation with someone you don't know well and it didn't immediately turn into what you were hoping for? Try to do a reality check on thoughts like this as soon as they come up.

> i want to hit my head on the wall for this.

This is a very negative visualization. You want to stop visualizations like this. Change negative visualizations and swap them for something more proactive and positive. When you start to feel negative thoughts like this, take a few slow breaths and count to 10. Progressive muscle relaxation is a good one too, but don't lay down until your anger is over. Laying down when you're angry can make it worse. Go for a walk. Say something to yourself like, "I am able to manage my anger and not let it manage me. I can change. I can wait it out until I feel my rational mind come back. The anger will subside with gentle breathing and time." Any kind of positive affirmation is hugely helpful.

You can learn anger management techniques from books but having a therapist you can talk to and just vent to helps a lot. And if they specialize in anger management you can progress that much faster and get to feeling better. So please don't discount going to a therapist when you feel like you really, need help.

The last book you might like is called Take Charge of Your Life as a contrast to CBT it's called choice theory and helps view what we think and feel and the actions we take as a decision that we can modify over time to forge a more constructive positive perspective. This approach helps us stop blaming other people for ruining our life and helps us realize we can have control.

Try to exercise any way you can that doesn't bother your asthma. Endorphins from exercise make you feel great and can help refresh and rewire your attitude over time. And leave your phone in the locker room. Focus on keeping your breathing calm. When your pulse goes up too high, take a slow breathing minute.

There are super cheap gyms like Planet Fitness for as low as $10 per month. Even just riding one of their stationary bikes for 20 minutes a few times a week will help give you more energy. You should be able to do the leg machines but stay away from squats. For asthmatics avoid anything that increases thoracic pressure. And don't hold your breath. Stay light on the weights. The major benefit is that it's indoors so your allergies will be less affected than exercising outside, especially in spring with all the flowers and pollen.

When your asthma acts up start exhaling slowly and count from 1 to 8. Notice as you do it that you are able to count longer while exhaling. Then even after you have exhaled, count from 1 to 8 again. Not really holding your breath because you don't want to increase the pressure in your chest, just letting your chest relax and focusing on abdominal breathing. So it's like this: exhale 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8; stay there adn don't inhale for as long as you can count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Then inhale. Inhale as normally as you can. If your body wants to inhale fast, that's totally ok. Just focus on lengthening the next exhale. Do that until you feel your shallow upper chest breathing change into slower abdominal breathing. This is a modified version of Buteyko breathing recommended for asthmatics. Keep using your inhalers. It's a different strategy than trying to max out with big breaths. It's basically learning the opposite, to shallow breathe and let your lungs relax

Sorry for writing a book! This is very dense, so maybe print it out or save the text to a doc on your computer so you can reference the parts that help you the most. And when you blow up again, come back to refresh your approach. I really hope it helps. Hang in there and feel better!

by napjerks   2018-11-10

If you think of things like hitting yourself as a response when you are not angry, that is what will happen when you are angry. Your regular visions will be acted out. That's why there is so much emphasis on positive visualizations in motivational courses like those by Tony Robbins, etc.

It's like you want to gain control of your imagination. What is your mind telling you should do versus what do you know would be a better response.

Because you are already hitting yourself I would really recommend you find a counselor or therapist. It's not that expensive if you have insurance, usually a $20 - $50 copay per visit. Even without insurance it's usually about $100. But speaking to someone face to face will get you where you want to be a lot faster than relying on books or the internet.

But what you want to do is come up with a different set of visualizations for when you are not angry or stressed out. Use them to image what you would do if you become angry and are more positive responses.

These are some standard recommendations for anger management. Print this out or just bookmark it so you can easily access it. There are road rage tips at the bottom as well. Pick the ones you feel suit you best. But try to be diligent with these for the next week or two and you will feel better.

For a book you can read When Anger Hurts . Just jump straight to chapter 8. Hope this helps!

by napjerks   2018-11-10

Yep! You're in the right place. That's why there are books like:

When Anger Hurts

Calming the Family Storm

Anger Management for Dummies

And also why so many therapists have full time employment. Helping people like us.

by napjerks   2018-11-10

Depression and anger are two sides of the same coin. But like you said, it's best for you to deal with it in your own way rather than having anger forced on you as the only response. They can have the same causes. Because you have a family history of it, therapy could be a good option.

Books like When Anger Hurts or The Dance of Anger can help you work through things.

And keeping a journal with even just simple notes on insights from your reading and points about specific things that happen and how you react to them can help. Hope this helps!

by napjerks   2018-11-10

We can't know what this tirade is a result of. Obviously we can hear the unfiltered rage. But she would need to be evaluated directly by a therapist to be able to say what the cause is. Or if you can convey some of her behavior and the things she says to a therapist yourself they could give you a good idea of the "diagnosis".

But it's child abuse. Whether or not your mom ever hit you this kind of screaming and threatening is abuse. Any psychiatrist would listen to this and say the same thing.

I'm sorry you had to deal with this growing up. This is nothing but full on rage dumping on another human and a child can develop all kinds of relationship problems from it. I don't recommend self-diagnosing by reading on the internet and assuming you have whatever condition they suggest. But I would have to say anger, social anxiety, depression, ptsd and other symptoms would result. But the real question is what happens inside of you on a daily basis if you are still in contact with her. Some people have a natural resistance to such situations. They figure out how to deal with it. Me personally, I had to seek a therapist. So from my personal experience I would recommend you do too.

Anyone who has been through this kind of verbal abuse from their parents should seek a therapist as soon as they can. In the US if you have insurance it runs about $20 - $50 per session. If you don't have insurance it's usually around $100 or less per session. Usually you will meet with the therapist once a week for a month or two and then once a month on a regular basis as long as you need.

They may suggest you take a medication. It's up to you whether or not you take any meds.

These are some general anger management techniques for lowering your overall level of anger and anxiety, especially in social situations or when driving.

When Anger Hurts is the first book I would recommend. Just start on chapter 6. You don't need the first intro chapters because it just explains "why" you might need the book. But you're here asking so it's pretty obvious you already know why. This book is for you and finding peace and learning how to deal with anger within yourself.

Thriving with Social Anxiety is a great book for simply dealing with anything from normal stage fright to gripping fear of death talking in front of others. It does a very good run-down of therapy options and offers a lot of solid techniques for managing anxiety both at home and in the workplace.

Calming the Family Storm is another book I can recommend. It is more from the parent's perspective. But I think you might get a lot of insight into your parents from this.

The Dance of Anger is the book your mother should read. Don't have high hopes for anything like that. If you want to understand her better, it would probably help.

Go easy on yourself. You were the child, she was the parent. Now you just have to put it in perspective in a way you can move forward and live your best life. Know that there are so many people out there who have been through this and succeeded in finding their own happiness and solitude. You are not alone. Hang in there! Read, learn and you have tons of opportunity for growth.

[edited: added the book recommendations and fixed language so it made more sense]

by napjerks   2018-11-10

You will get that job! Keep applying. Leverage your friends professional connections where you can. Set up a profile on LinkedIn.com. Volunteer in areas you are interested. It's a great way to make your own connections. Be honest up front, yes you are looking for a job but you don't have anything right now so that's why you're volunteering. When people recognize you're a good worker, the wheels will start turning in their heads and they'll be thinking of you.

You're aware of your sensitivity to anger - that's good. Anger is a secondary emotion. So now you can work on recognizing the feelings, emotions, thoughts that lead up to anger.

When do you first start feeling annoyed or agitated? What were you working on or thinking about? Those kinds of things fuel anger. So you want to work on them. Recognize frustration is a direct precursor to anger, just like anxiety or depression can be. Get a notebook or journal and just start logging each time you get agitated or angry and go through the techniques.

Not finding a job is very frustrating! That's a normal reaction. Patience. Quality applications are better than quantity. Emailing 100 employers blind a week is not as effective as submitting 2 or 3 quality written cover letters and customized resumes. Even if yours is short...

> The labor market is full of fools

This is what want to work on. Try not to judge people harshly. Judgment of others is a big anger trigger. Acknowledge you are not them. Even try to be glad for them that they have a job. Just try to switch to practicing simple compassion for others when you find yourself saying others are undeserving of what they have and calling other people fools in your head.

> I just feel nothing goes the way I want to.

Feeling like we don't have control is a huge cause of frustration, anxiety, anger. Try to clarify what you can control and what you can't. You absolutely cannot control other people. We can only control how we respond to what is happening in our lives. Our own reaction.

> This is way I like music like hardcore punk and death metal. It just makes me feel less lonely in frustration and anger.

This is a really good observation. Metal music rings to the same tone of our emotions. That's why it feels like a friend. It's something outside of us that resonates with what is inside us. So listen if it makes you feel better. But turn it off well before you start to feel like you're raging. Switch to more relaxed music when before start to feel like destroying the world. Anything you can listen to that brings you back down. Like being your own DJ, play an easy starting song, then a thrasher, then a cool-down song before you sign off.

Punching pillows, destroying furniture or personal items only continues to fuel the pool of anger we have inside us. It's actually not good advice.

Instead, we want to let angry feelings and all the emotions that trigger it gradually simmer down and dissipate. This can take weeks and months. And it can still rear it's ugly head unexpectedly if we haven't uncovered and worked on all of our major triggers.

When you have an anger "incident" or event, try not to get mad at yourself because you got angry. That's just a waste of time and energy. Focus on going over how it unfolded. How were you feeling that day, what lead up to it? What statements did the other person make if that's applicable. But most importantly what were the thoughts and feelings you had. Triggers can often be tied to needing to be right about something, being even slightly criticized by someone else, etc. These kinds of things can set us on edge when we're already angry a lot. But finding what the specific trigger for you is helps predict and prevent it from happening so harshly the next time. And this takes time, so that's why you have to give yourself a break when you have an outburst.

You have set high standards for yourself in terms of being financially responsible. So maybe lower standards in other areas where reasonable. You can share an apartment with someone and that's half the rent you would normally need to pay. You can't afford whatever you want right now, so just write down a financial plan that is more realistic given your circumstances. They say being broke and starting from nothing builds character, but it's also anxiety inducing and frustrating as hell. But you don't have to drive a super hot car or wear the most expensive clothes to land your first job.

So find ways to take pressure off yourself by evaluating your own standards. Living a moderately ascetic lifestyle has its own merits. Also beware of alcohol and going out to bars and clubs. It's fun while it lasts but it's also very expensive. Going to the gym three or four times a week and seeing the money that could go to clubbing instead slowly fill up a savings account is much more enriching. These days, this kind of decision can be very hard for many people.

Don't be afraid to see a therapist. They really can help. And if you don't like the first one you meet, it's ok to shop around, but find one you like and stick with them for a few months at least. It's cheaper of course with insurance. In the meantime, if you want to tackle a book try When Anger Hurts . Start at chapter 6. The first few chapters are just "why you should use this book." Grab any cheap journal and write down your reflections on what you read while going through it. That's a great way to start working on your personal experiences and to help remember later on when you need to apply the techniques it offers. Hang in there! Be kind to yourself while you're working on it.