Mindful Anger

A pathway to emotional freedom

Do You Know Why You're Angry? Part 2

The single greatest influence on the course of our lives is our family of origin. Until and unless you consciously choose to question and change your responses both inside yourself and with your family, you will continue to behave in the way you were raised. Read More

What does "re-framing" anger

What does "re-framing" anger mean? You gave an excellent description of the problem, but I didn't understand what your suggested solution was.


"Only bad things happen to me" as an example of a "re-frame" would be "what can I learn from this experience - how can it help me" ...... then you're not coming from a victim place. I hope this is helpful. If you need more, just email me again. Thanks for your response. Dr. Andrea B.

Do you know why you are angry

Your statement "the single greatest influence on the course of our lives is our family of origin" is similar to that I heard some years ago "the single strongest influence in a child's life is the primary parent, which in most cases is the mother"
I wish to make the following comments:-

1. the single greatest influence is not outweighed by the sum of other influences
2. external influences, mainly in school and often in the classroom where according to websites 40% to 45% of teachers admit to bullying pupils (those percentages are only for those who admitted to bullying, and do not include those who lied and or don't even realise that they are bullying)
3. hurt children often lash out at someone safe - often placing a hurt from an external source onto a lessor hurt within the home (eg. a humiliation at school placed on top of a minor discomfort at having to wear something unfashionable); the children too ashamed to admit and or to think about the school humiliation which is suppressed from memory may add more detail to the lesser humiliation to justify the pain, thereby causing exaggerated and or false memories of wrongdoing within the home
4. parents unwittingly help by (1) probing why the child is upset and overreacting to the child's discomfort, thereby making the child feel worse (2)past experience of probing makes the child clam up thus adding another problem "I could never talk to you" (3) parents conscious and or unconscious collusion with school, i.e. parents want to believe that teachers are understanding and caring - to think otherwise would make them neurotic
5. children cannot express emotion, especially anger and or frustration, in schools. School environment is often not suitable for child - for various reasons - schools are designed to suit 40% - the other 60% (ranging from the exceptionally bright to the lower intelligent and including diverse intelligences requiring different teaching strategies and learning structures. Such children who are not properly accommodated in schools and who lash out in schools get labelled ADD, ADHD, ODD, Bi-Polar, ASD, etc. It is better to live a life of compliant resignation in school and force oneself to memorise data - most of which is uninteresting and useless.
6. The damage done in schools (by classroom experience in particular) is ignored

Do you know why you are angry? I may not know all the reasons why I am - and my parents may have a case to answer - the schools certainly have

You make some very good

You make some very good points, however, it's not just the school environment and teachers. The first powerful influence on a person is their family for the first five years of their life. And schools would be probably be the second most powerful environment.

Thanks for your comment.


I am not disputing the

I am not disputing the influence of the family - I understand that everything we learn during the first six years of life is essentially learned through a from of brainwashing - and that that is the only way in which we can learn during those years - that whatever we learn then is the most powerful. I understand that character is formed at age 6 to 8. I understand how vital it is that children be raised to the best possible standards

The problem is, people's interpretation of the statement that early family influence is the strongest of all influences to wrongly mean that how a person turns out is entirely due to early family life.

While family influence is strong - and usually the strongest - it isn't always the strongest. How we are reared does give us the strength or weakness of character, the tool with which we forge through life. But however strong the tool it neither prevents nor outweighs external influences or attacks.

The biggest external influence for most is the school environment and I feel that the extent of this influence is greatly underestimated.

Many children start school at four years of age - at an age when they are very susceptible. I read recently that children diagnosed with disorders of ADD, ADHD, ODD, Bi-polar, etc. tend to be those children who are the youngest in the class. A diagnosis of a disorder, thanks to unsuitable school environment, has the potential to destroy lives.

My own person experiences in school were not good but I witnessed far worse and I know one child who had a break down as a result of mistreatment by a Teacher.

Teachers have the power to encourage and or to discourage - an encouraging word from a parent about a child's ability is of little consequence to the child who is being made to feel stupid by an inept teacher. A disparaging remark to a child by a teacher in front of class can damage self-esteem.

Schools tend to teach children how to memorize as opposed to how to think; this cannot be good.

For many, self-worth is to the greater part down to their educational qualifications

I agree with the author that the family has more impact than schools

I think that its the temperament traits the child is born with *interacting with and upon* the early environment: mainly the primary caregiver (and other family of origin members) during the first 5 or 6 years of life that have the greatest impact on a person's growing up to have either a more functional, satisfying life track or a dysfunctional one.

The public or standard school environment IS geared to the "average" child, so its up to the parents to arrange for a tailored educational environment for a "not average" child: enhanced educational experiences for the gifted or an assisted learning environment for those with behavioral and/or learning difficulties.

Unrecognised influence by Schools on Children

Yes, early environment with the primary caregiver is a huge influence on the child's life. But who is the primary caregiver for children who are cared for in creches - and who spend most of their waking time in creches and or with child minders?

Children start play school and montessori at 2 - 3 years.

Children start school at 4 - 5 years.

In most families there are a whole load of external influences from the earliest months. I feel that the accumulation of all the external effects may in situations outweigh the parental influence. I include in this the all too easy access for young children to traumatic material via internet, etc.

How do you determine whether or not a child turned out alright?

The usual means is via his / her educational results as children who do well academically and get good jobs are seen to have turned out alright, i.e. that their parents raised them well.

Is that fair?

The educational system suits 40% so are the parents to blame for the 60% or part thereof who don't do well in school? Is it the parents fault if the child opts out, truants, etc. because he / she cannot tolerate the educational environment?

Has there been any research into the is the effect of school life on the 60% it doesn't suit - particularly those who it suits least.

Your statement that "so its up to the parents to arrange for a tailored educational environment for a "not average" child: enhanced educational experiences for the gifted or an assisted learning environment for those with behavioral and/or learning difficulties" is appropriate where "not average" children are identified and their educational needs identified and where it is possible to arrange for a tailored educational environment. This is not always easy nor even possible.

Caution has to be exerted when considering assessment for "not average" child as children, who do not fit in, who are not compliant with / opt out of an educational system that does not suit them, are routinely misdiagnosed as having disorders simply because they don't suit the school environment - when in fact it is the school environment which does not suit the child.

Giftedness and talent are routinely midiagnosed as ADD, ADHD, ODD, Bi-polar, etc. Innocent little children's lives are routinely destroyed by stigmatizing spurious disorders - and worse these children's true and beneficial identities concealed forever by these stigmatizing disorders.

The bad press given to the publication of the latest DSM gives indication as to how easily children and adults are labelled and stigmatized for life with spurious disorders - most assessed because of lack of engagement in education.

It amazes me that a psychiatric / psychology system regards children who, while being part of the mean educational average, i.e. the 60% but who are not part of the mode educational average, i.e. the 40% are considered somehow defective - especially when our most gifted and different types of intelligence, which if developed could be a huge benefit to society, are included in the 60%.

The belief that usual is normal is a nonsense.

A child whom the education system fails is considered defective and or from a bad home. That is very wrong.

A child who has been given a stigmatizing label by a careless psychiatrist/ psychologist and who fulfill's that diagnostician's prophecy of turning out wrong (because of the stigmatizing and ostracising diagnosis) is considered defective and from a bad home. That is very wrong.

My whole point is that re-enforcing the notion that parents are to blame - especially by not mentioning the potential harm by external factors - wrongly exhonerates and conceals the serious damage often done by schools.

Corporal punishment of children in schools has been outlawed - but not emotional and or psychological abuse (40% - 45% of teachers admit to this)- yet it is the emotionally and psychologically abusive factor in all abuses whether physical or sexual which does the most damage.

I would wager that there is far more emotional and or psychological abuse of children by school teachers than by parents - and that this fact will be kept hidden - because no-one want to admit this

Quid Pro Quo

As an adult survivor of child abuse, I would wager that there is far more emotional and or psychological abuse of children by parents than by school teachers - and that this fact will be kept hidden - because no-one wants to admit this.

school abuse

I come from a highly dysfunctional family of origin with violence and alcoholism; however, humiliations and hurts from teachers loom far larger in my conscious life today than do issues from my home life. I can still sense the anger and impatience from two specific teachers and where I have been able to forgive much regarding the actions of my parents, I find that I still want to hunt down those two teachers and make them aware of how they hurt me.

Many people feel similarly towards their teachers

Start a conversation about negative experiences with teachers and most will have a tale to tell. A middle aged man whom I know recently confronted a former teacher of his and took him to task for past mistreatment. The teacher responded "things were different then". That's neither explanation nor excuse. Things were not different then - only the forms cruelty took. Human nature doesn't change - only the parameters of allowable behaviour; overt abuse is tolerated less now but the covert psychological abuse thrives as it is much more difficult for innocent little children to detect and report that which they cannot fully comprehend; in any case if a child reacts with coping mechanisms the abusive teacher can fill in a child behavior checklist and have the child labelled disordered. The "professionals" band together. The the vulnerable will always be abused - and stressed teachers with limited self-awareness will project onto their innocent charges

How awful for you and for all

How awful for you and for all children who suffer abuse. Notwithstanding which is worse - the main point I am trying to make is that while it is widely regarded - unfairly as I believe, as fact that the hand that rocks the cradle determines how a child turns out - the immensely strong influence of the school environment isn't even considered as a factor. I feel that this is very wrong; many people have very strong negative feelings about their school days - and yet you hear nothing but praise for Teachers - as if they are superhuman altruistic - when a high percentage are not

I agree with you

Look at the many themes of fiction surrounding abuses that occur in school and how people are impacted by the experience. As children, we deal in a dual world of "family" and the other world where we are more autonomous to interact with the environment around us. Even if that environment is cordoned off by adults other than our parents, our personal bubble is more pronounced and offers less intrusion so when we are impacted by way of negative or aggressive interactions, we are more exposed. At least that is my theory.

Yes, How Awful

Leo, if you think a school teacher wields more power and control over a kid than a parent does, you probably don't know many adult survivors of child abuse.

The school environment, even with all its WORST faults, is an absolute refuge for abused children from dysfunctional families.

Dr. Brandt is spot on.

Absolutely agree

I looked forward to going to school (even though I was bullied and teased there) because I didn't want to be in my home environment around my alcoholic and mentally and verbally abusive father. I dreaded the weekends because I had to be around him.

My Heart Goes Out to You

Bless you, I understand so well! School WAS a refuge.

I remember often standing alone hunched back against a school-building wall at recess, blankly watching the other kids laughing and playing. As a child, I never slept well at night and always had horrible, knotted stomach aches. I realize now that the insomnia and the nerve-wracked, gut-wrenching feelings were directly due to my hateful mother's daily physical and verbal abuse, the worst of which she carried out when no witnesses were around. For kids like you and me, enduring this unpredictable terror at home was our "NORMAL."

Fortunately, I was not bullied or teased at school (but that was back when teachers had a lot more clout to discipline the bullies!). I was such a quiet, shy and withdrawn little girl, it seemed like nobody ever noticed me one way or the other.

My bullies were my siblings, egged on by my mother.

I never remember laughing along with other kids, either. Later on several people told me that I had always seemed to be such a "solemn" child.

my heart goes out to you too

I feel so sad in reading about the violations you endured as a child. It's just not not what we're conditioned to believe mothers are supposed to be like. They're supposed to be in our corner - supporting our needs and feelings. I hope that you have achieved this somewhere in your life today.

Thank You

Thank you for your compassionate reply, Dr. Brandt. I am so thankful that there are articulate professionals like you who understand and provide positive support to abuse victims on how to deal with and process such painful emotions. Like other abused children, I had to stuff my emotions deep into my subconscious as a kid - only to have them all boomerang overwhelmingly back into my life decades later.

But the new, adult "Me" is finally putting the blame where it really belongs, and freeing myself both from my mother's thoroughly evil negativity and her endless predictions of my "complete failure" are liberating achievements!

Your response proves my point

Your response proves my point - and that is that the cause seen to be the major cause - becomes the only cause.

The fact is that emotional psychological abuse in schools - is almost completely ignored and even when it is suggested as a problem there is always someone to shout - well abuse in the home is a greater problem - the home becomes the scapegoat for all abuses against a child - so the other abuses get overlooked.

Regardless as to whether abuse in the home is or is more damaging overall - the fact remains that plenty of children who come from good homes - go into educational environments which do not suit them - where they are misunderstood, mishandled and or mistreated, where they are sometimes punished for the school's failure to accommodate them and where they simply come across, to their detriment, emotionally disturbed teachers

Unfortunately some people see life as if is a mathematical conundrum - with one answe.

The Real Scapegoat

No, my response does not prove your point at all.

What your reply does tell me is that you equate "emotional psychological abuse in schools" of "mistreated" children from "good homes" on the same level as the child abuse of children in the "scapegoated" homes. And for you to absurdly use the word "scapegoat" in that context...(shaking my head in disbelief).

The reason what happens in schools may be "ignored" is because NOTHING that happens to kids in schools even BEGINS to compare with the level, degree, amount and type of emotional/psychological/physical/ verbal abuse that children (who are abused by parents) experience in their own homes.

The reason what happens in school may be ignored.......

The reason what happens in school may be ignored... exactly

Wrongfully convicted

Persons whom convicted and found innocent and set free from years of imprisonment. I am amazed to find these persons not angry but happily enlightened.
I have to ask how they coped, how they came out with such a humility of what I would of thought would be anger and revenge. But it is not so.

Confinement and the time to spend with just the self?
Freedom and the joy after depravity to be thankful?

So I am an innocent locked in the prison of my past?
I am an innocent freed to walk away from the chains that held me?

I have the choice.............

"A life unexamined is a life not worth living"

So that was the beginning of the my "Sentence" towards freedom.

What I discovered is that the confines of my family of origin didn't have to be negotiated they had to be left behind.
That my identity was not a role, that I was not a part of anyone else's script on this stage "my life" but I was the play write.
Which puts one in a very responsible light.
I changed the lonely feeling of isolation into blissful self reliance and independence. I changed anger into poetry and physical fitness. I took "You are" and changed them into "I am"
I literally found myself saying to the naysayers, the antagonists, the abusive. "I don't remember writing you into my script today, get off my stage" and I'd walk away.
There I found not only my own boundaries and assertiveness but I found my own goals outweighed others criticisms or needs. The goals became stronger while I became lighter.
Today the "others" still call me the "freak" the "rebel" the "lost"
I send them silent empathy as I see not only through them but past them. That is not grandiose as it may be seen, it is freedom nothing more. I am also aware of their flighting desires of recourse that I view more as a paparazzi of slander in the disguise of kindred interest. That is not paranoia or the electric fence, that is tested observation and sadly the realization that malice does exist.

So as a writer of life I set the scene the characters the play.
As the director I can fire anyone I want. "You're fired" became a daily mantra in my meditations.
I also allow in the villains, a good script needs the villains in order to challenge the hero. Good mention and a few Oscars are awarded to my vast clergy of accessible villains.

I also play other roles for other directors, but now I choose the auditions. I do not desire to be sought after but to seek, because
validation is the poison ink of the past. Now I am this...

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Dr. Andrea Brandt, Ph.D, M.F.T, is a psychotherapist with over 30 years of experience treating anger, passive-aggressiveness, anxiety, relationships, and work-life balance.


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