Anger in the Age of Entitlement

Cleaning up emotional pollution

How to Make Anger and Resentment Unnecessary

Strengthen Who You Are

Anger is a protective emotion, activated by a dual perception of vulnerability and threat. (The more vulnerable we feel, the more threat we perceive.) When anger is a problem, it is only a symptom; perceived vulnerability is the cause.

Most problem anger - that which makes you act against your long term best interests - comes from ego vulnerability, i.e., someone says or does something that offends your ego or makes you feel devalued. The best way to eliminate ego vulnerability is to strengthen, through determined behavior, your sense of who you are, specifically:

  • What you believe about yourself
  • What is most important to you

When people violate their deeper values - who they are, what they believe in, and what is most important to them - they become vulnerable to guilt, shame, and anxiety. They have more self doubt and, to some extent, feel phony. They feel devalued or violated by others. They perceive more threat and require more anger and resentment for defense.

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You're Probably Justified

Never ask whether your anger or resentment is justified. (It probably is.) These are the more important questions to ask yourself:

  • Is my anger or resentment helping me be the kind of person, partner, parent, and worker I most want to be?
  • Is my anger or resentment turning me into someone I'm not?

The following exercise begins the strengthening process that will help you make anger and resentment almost completely unnecessary in your life.

 

Please select the personal qualities that reflect your deepest values and identify a behavior that will reinforce those qualities.

I am (check all that apply):

Fair___  (Example of reinforcing behavior – Try hard to be fair and try to ensure that other people think I am fair in my dealings with them.)

 

Flexible___ (Example of reinforcing behavior – Adapt or compromise, when consistent with my deeper values.)

 

Honest___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Always tell the truth and value truth more than my ego.)

 

Attractive___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Maintain a moderate level of fitness and healthful appearance.)

 

Reliable___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Do what I say I will do.)

 

Worthy of respect___ (Example of reinforcing behavior – Respect others.)

 

Pleasant___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Never take my unpleasant moods out on others.)

 

A hard worker___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Work hard.)

 

Funny, with a good sense of humor___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Look for humor in situations when appropriate.)

 

Generous___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Be as generous as I can be within my means.)

 

Cooperative___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Try to find ways of doing things that work best for everyone involved.)

 

Good parent___ (Example of reinforcing behavior – Focus on the best interests of my children.)

 

Loyal___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Never betray a trust or a promise to support and defend.)

 

Vibrant (zest for life)___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Make an effort to appreciate life.)

 

Tolerant___ (Example of reinforcing behavior - Recognize the basic humanity within everyone, especially when I disagree with them.)

 

Other___ (Reinforcing behavior:

 

Other___ (Reinforcing behavior:

 

Other___ (Reinforcing behavior:

 

Other___ (Reinforcing behavior:

 

CompassionPower

Steven Stosny, Ph.D., treats people for anger and relationship problems. Recent books: How to Improve your Marriage without Talking about It, and Love Without Hurt.

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