Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
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Cultivating the power of your moods, thoughts and feelings
America has become a hothouse for hotheads. From highways and homes to TV and talk radio, fury and frustration abound. "We live in an argument culture, where aggression is rewarded unwittingly as the 'squeaky wheel,'" says W. Robert Nay, Ph.D., a psychologist at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and author of taking Charge of Anger. "We're also a very stress-ridden culture. We're on alert at all times, whether it's at the workplace, on the highways or at home. Being in this constant state of high arousal makes us more likely to act out our anger when things don't go smoothly."
Bottling up anger can have unhealthy repercussions. A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study found that women who didn't deal with their anger were more likely to exhibit early signs of heart disease. In her own research, Cox found that people who tried either to conceal their anger or externalize it by blaming others were at higher risk for anxiety, tension and panic attacks.
Self-esteem suffers, too. Those who beat themselves up for being spineless "feed a sense of powerlessness that is directly associated with depression," says Beverly Engel, a therapist in Los Osos, Calif., and author of Honor Your Anger.
A healthy rage
Studies at Hofstra University in New York found that anger episodes had positive long-term results 40 percent of the time, and that one-third of subjects felt such an incident let them realize their own faults.
"Anger can spark a clarity that helps us see situations in a different light," says Cox. That moment of truth may give us the courage to challenge an incorrect bill, change jobs or overcome a longstanding problem in a marriage.
what's your style?
Instantly, I'd regret my eruption and apologize profusely to patch things up. But one time, it was different. "Saying you're sorry doesn't make it OK," a friend curtly informed me.
I was stunned. To me, my anger was like lightning in a summer storm: a quick flash, then gone. But the experience with my friend made me realize that not everyone could brush off my outbursts so easily.
"We all have our anger styles, which are the ways we express our rage," says Engel. "These are typically learned in childhood, either from watching the ways our parents coped with their anger or as a self-protective reaction to the way they treated us."
Understanding how you deal with anger — or how you don't deal with it — can help you alter any destructive role it plays in your personal and professional relationships. There are, after all, constructive ways to vent your vexation.
People who express their anger in healthy ways are confident that what they have to say is valid and legitimate, explains Carter. They don't shy away from conflict because they know it's a natural part of any relationship. However, they maintain their composure, which takes away the emotional charge that puts others on the defensive. Their behavior allows differences to be resolved in a reasonable way.
presence of mind — connections
Reflection Exercise #3