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Being mindful of your thoughts and self talk

feeling-bad-I want to tell you a story about two people that went on a camping trip.  Neither of them were seasoned campers, but it sounded like fun.  They got all of their gear together – probably a lot more than they really needed.  They packed up the car, and off they went on their adventure.  They got to their camp site and set everything up and all was fun, until two days later the rains began.  Oh yes, not just the rain – but the wind too.  It blew so hard and the rain was coming down sideways.

The two campers were scared as the winds grew stronger, pulling the stakes out of the ground and they were getting wet.  They were so miserable.  Finally deciding they could take no more they abandoned the site, found a cheap hotel and spent 2 days in the hotel with nothing to do but watch a small black and white TV.  No fun activities, no sight seeing,  nothing to do.  Soon the rain stopped and they went back to the camp site to retrieve their equipment, only to find that it was destroyed.  What was not destroyed was missing.  They  were devastated.

Two people with the same experience.  One of the them could not wait to tell their friends how they had survived in the “wilderness” and the other was in a total state of depression.  Embarrassed about not seeing the weather ahead, the destruction of the equipment and disappointed about the event.  How could one see the trip in a positive fun way and the other on the same trip be totally depressed about the same trip.

Self talk and control of thoughts totally determine our attitude.  If we do not be careful about the way we talk to ourselves and careful about not magnifying our beliefs or thoughts, the same may create a lot of stress for us and this could be a trigger for anger.

What is worst about the anger at this level is that we may direct our angry behavior towards those who do not deserve it and we will suffer again when we look back on our actions in that state of anger.

William James once said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”


Fear is the root cause of anger

I start this with a strong statement – Fear is the root cause of anger.

fear-450x298No matter who we are we all feel our anger triggered, sometimes by individuals, by groups, or the conduct of others.  Generally though if we have an expectation or goal and it is not filled or completed in some manner, we may begin to have angry feelings come up for us.  It is very easy for us to blame the customer service person, our spouse, our child, the teacher, the organization for “making us feel this way”.

Our reaction to those triggers may come out as anger and may be displayed in a number of ways, from something as simple as a feeling of resentment, bitterness or frustration to the other end of the spectrum of hatred, hostility or rebellion.  The anger may be shown in a physical, verbal, or emotional way with attacks on others physically or verbally or emotionally.

But why the attack for something that may seem later to not be that important?  I would suggest that it is due to fear.  Our brain is trying to protect us from something that we believe or feel is going to hurt us. So while anger is probably meant to be a good thing, some parts of our brain are not realizing that we live in a different society beyond the caveman age and the “enemy” can be dealt in different ways than the explosion of anger and fighting or running way.

In our modern society the fear we have or the danger we see, is not from wild animals or other physical enemy  attacks.  But the reaction to the fears we  have are the same as in caveman days – we are going to attack back and sometimes we get way to aggressive about that attack and we get into trouble.

Where is that fear from?  There are two main groups that fear falls into, that everything else that happens to us can be tied too.  Those groups are:

Fear of failure

Fear of not being enough

Every reaction to an attack on us or even perceived attack is based on protecting ourselves from our fear of failure or our fear of not being enough.  Let me give you some examples.

Think about the parent who is yelling at their child because of misbehaving in a public place

FEAR of failure as a parent or not a good enough parent


Think about a person who has lost a loved one and becomes angry lashing out at others.

FEAR of “did I do enough”


Think of a young person who was just ‘dumped’ by a friend

FEAR of not being a good enough friend to be kept and what will others think (embarrassment)


Think of a person who has lost their job and has become short and aggressive at home with family members

FEAR of failure as a provider,  what will happen to my family?

Learning to recognize the fear that is lurking beneath the anger, then communicating what is happening inside of you is an important part of anger management.  If you only show the anger, and that is all that everyone sees, they will likely respond to the anger, not realizing that there are other feelings going on for you.

To learn to do this is a process and many times needs the help of others.  More on that later.


Parent Coaching Series Looks At Anger Management In The Family

LOGO - BLS - large - HQIt has been 10 days since I last posted on this site. I have been busy teaching at AACC and at Freetown Elementary School. It simply amazes me the concern that parents, teachers and even children have on the feelings and expressions of anger. These feelings that we see expressed in explosive ways are most times a result of other emotions that are not understood either by ourselves and certainly not by others.

On December 10 and 11 Balanced Life Skills will be presenting a 30 minutes discussion on Anger Management in the Home. All adults are invited to attend. I thought it would be helpful to define “peace” to begin with and then give some helpful hints to attaining peace in the home. Can we do it all in 30 minutes? Of course not. But we will give some good solid suggestions to begin working on with the whole family.

In later announcements we will provide other curriculum, blog posts and opportunities to learn more. The Balanced Life Skills Way is one of peace, for ourselves, family, schools and community. I personally invite you to become one of the families in our school who value peace in our community.


5 Emotions That Trigger Most Anger

When I observe anyone who is expressing anger with a behavior that is damaging to themselves or to others I personally feel their pain. There are many causes for the way we feel and express anger but they can be generally summed up with emotions or events:

  • Embarrassment – not achieving a personal goal
  • Loss of respect – shown by an invasion of space either verbally or physically
  • Fear – feeling of inadequacy, not being enough,
  • Shame – Not being happy with ourselves in a certain way, then projecting that on others.
  • Sadness – Grieving over a loss and the unfairness of that loss to ourselves.

I am sure that there are other causes but these 5 sum up the majority of causes of anger. The most common one is Fear. That little reptilian part of our brain that causes us to react when we perceive an attack by either Freezing, Fighting or Fleeing causes some people to appear angry when in fact they are very scared underneath.

WLearning about ourselves is the first step in managing our anger. Which one of these is creating our reactions? Do we show anger the most when we are embarrassed, disrespected, fearful, shamed, or sad? When we can identify what is happening within ourselves, then we can think about what is happening to others, including our children.

I have seen all of these situations and the causes can go very deep. In my own case it was not until I realized that the death of my father at a very early age was the part of the reason I was so quick to react to situations. Knowing this allowed me to look more deeply at myself and find other triggers. This is the work in anger management that I do now, helping others, including children to learn to recognize and communicate their personal triggers.


How Others See You May Trigger Emotional Reactions

Perception-3The way we see ourselves and the way others perceive us are usually not the same and many times are very far apart. We discussed the 6 different identities that take place in a conversation in our last post. Many times we are unaware of how our behavior appears or is experienced.  For instance if we are a much taller or bigger person than those we are interacting with, just because of size we may come off as intimidating.

There may be other reasons others may feel intimidated including our voice, body language or facial expressions. It may be the quickness that we speak or the critical nature of our speech. We may be prone to outbursts or sarcasm that in our mind are acceptable, but to others is seen as abrasive and put-downs.  Our words or actions may be triggering in others reactions that may trigger a reaction in ourselves.  This spiral of emotional triggers can very easily get out of control.

While we may have many positive character traits, we will never know how others perceive us unless we ask and are open to how others perceive us. This step of becoming aware of our effect on others will help us decide if we need to adjust our reactions and find ways to respond that are not aggressive or intimidating. – need to be aware of the intimidation factor that comes with the position we hold so that our expressions are not seen as intimidating others.

Using empathy we can ask ourselves, “If I was being spoken to at this time in this manner would I feel safe or unsafe.”   Answering very honestly will give us feedback in how we would like to proceed.

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