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Anger Management: Treating Road Rage
Anger Management: Treating Road Rage - 6 CEUs

Section 12
Five Principles for Deescalating Anger

Question 12 | Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Anger Management
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

So your roommate does something to challenge your trust in her. It’s not even such a big deal thing—she forgot to pick up the vegetables for dinner even though she said she’d do it. You trusted her to do it and she didn’t, and now your new bakery Anger Management Treating counselor CEUdiet is ruined without vegetables to eat. You feel fury—and you’re about to lash out.

Wait just a moment. Can you remember to do just five things that may calm that rage and prevent a terrible blowup.

1. Avoid the double standard. We often attribute our own behavior to a specific situation or at worst an occasional lapse, but we attribute our friend’s behavior to a fixed, personal shortcoming.

You say about your roommate: Beryl didn’t pick up the vegetables for dinner because she’s selfish— always thinking about herself and her own problems. She pays no attention to my needs.

You say about yourself: I didn’t get to pick up the dessert for dinner because I got stuck in a traffic jam and the bakery was closed by the time I got there.

So think to yourself: Did my friend do this thing to betray my trust because she’s mean and selfish, or is it possible I could do the same thing, just because I’m a little forgetful or a bit careless?

2. Be a soul-searcher. Often when a friend hits your hot button, she becomes a monster in your eyes. You begin to finger-point: You did this... You are a... you, you, you. You see yourself as worthy and your friend as willful. How can she talk to me like this? Is she out of her mind?

Try stepping back and searching your own soul: Was I. . . ? Did I. . . ? Didn’t I. . . ? What am I not doing to cool things down?

Always remember, there are two sides of the coin. Here’s how your friend might see an issue of conflict—and how you might see it.
                                                                                                                                                                                   
Point                                                                                        Counterpoint                                                                
You were flirting with my boyfriend.                                          I was being friendly with your boyfriend to please you.
You are a control freak.                                                            I like to get things done.
You were so mean to my other friend.                                       I’m honest. I cannot tell a lie.
You’re so thin-skinned I can’t tell you anything.                         I am very sensitive—and you should respect that.
I think you’re a busybody—who  asked you for advice?           You should be grateful for my advice. It means I care
                                                                                                about you.
You told my secret because you’re cruel.                                  I told your secret because I was sure the other person
                                                                                                could help you.                                                             

3.  Walk out and start again. You and your friend are in the thick of it—furious and hurt. You say, “We’re headed for serious trouble here, and we’ve got to stop before we really do damage to our friendship. Please bear with me—let’s take a break. I’d like to walk out of this room and come right back again in a minute. Okay?”
Now, do it. The very surprise of the act seems always to change the nature of the heated conversation. This principle is similar to Watching the Play in the Five-Step Formula (page 51), but we’ve got a physical distancing here, not just a mental one. Taking a break from the heat, even for two minutes often works wonders. When you return, you pick up the conflict, but something about the break tones down the anger.

You only can do this once. If you get in the habit of walking out during a conflict, it will surely begin to irritate your friend.

4.  Use brainstorming techniques. Assume there is a solution to the thing that’s ticked you off, even if you both still feel terribly angry. Agree that you’ll each try to throw out a couple of ideas to solve the problem—and that you will not judge each other’s ideas, and that no idea will be arbitrarily discarded unless you both agree it’s unworkable.

5. Acknowledge that you’re sorry. Admit that you know you added to the problem in some way. Acknowledging that we ourselves are imperfect people eventually leads to button turnoffs, and finally to solutions.
-Evans, Sybil & Sherry Cohen, Hot Buttons: How to Resolve Conflict and Cool Everyone Down, Cliff Street Books: New York, 2000.

Personal Reflection Exercise #5
The preceding section contained information about five principles for deescalating anger. .  Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

QUESTION 12
What are the five principles that may calm rage and prevent blowups? Record the letter of the correct answer the Answer Booklet.

 
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