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Anger Management Tips: Ten Commandments of Anger Regulation

Manage vulnerability, not anger - be true to your values.

The media offer a blessing and a curse to our profession. The blessing lies in the chance to reach a great many people with helpful information. The curse is getting "typed," which means answering the same questions over and over in glib bullet points and sound bites.

My "type" is a little broader than many of my colleagues, but it still attracts endless questions about anger management. For the record, "anger management" is one of the silliest terms in behavior science, deserving of its widespread ridicule in the media. Anger doesn't need to be managed; the ego vulnerability that causes anger problems needs to be reduced through fidelity to one's deepest values.

Nevertheless, media questions about anger management afford the chance to reach millions of people, and so, with apologies, here are the "Ten Commandments of Managing Anger."

1. Recognize anger as a signal of vulnerability - you feel devalued in some way.

2. When angry, think or do something that will make you feel more valuable, i.e., worthy of appreciation.

3. Don't trust your judgment when angry. Anger magnifies and amplifies only the negative aspects of an issue, distorting realistic appraisal.

4. Try to see the complexity of the issue. Anger requires narrow and rigid focus that ignores or oversimplifies context.

5. Strive to understand other people's perspectives. When angry you assume the worst or outright demonize the object of your anger.

6. Don't justify your anger. Instead, consider whether it will help you act in your long-term best interest.

7. Know your physical and mental resources. Anger is more likely to occur when tired, hungry, sick, confused, anxious, preoccupied, distracted, or overwhelmed.

8. Focus on improving and repairing rather than blaming. It's hard to stay angry without blaming and it's harder to blame when focused on repairing and improving.

9. When angry, remember your deepest values. Anger is about devaluing others, which is probably inconsistent with your deepest values.

10. Know that your temporary state of anger has prepared you to fight when you really need to learn more, solve a problem, or, if it involves a loved one, be more compassionate.


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