Anger management: #3 The Blame Game

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We have all seen the child or the adult that sees others as the cause of their anger.  Someone, or something provokes them, and their anger is the “reasonable response”, from their point of view.  Its not their fault if they loss their temper because…  This is a way of sidestepping the responsibility for their feelings and reactions and the damage that they may cause. 

One of the reasons they take this position is because of feeling out of control over their lives.  They may feel like their is very little they can do about a situation and in fact the pain that they are feeling and they are upset at those they they believe caused that pain.  They feel like they cannot stop what is happening and so they go into the fight or flight mode – and they choose to fight.  This lack of power they are feeling is brought on by not knowing that there may be a solution to the issue.  The more they blame others the more they believe it and the more angry they become.

Some of the favorite methods they might use, actually brings more trouble to them and you will probably recognize some of these.  They may speak in a sarcastic manner, criticize others, get in your face because of not knowing when to back off, or nag until the other persons patience is gone. Here is what we want to remember though:  Even if there is a reason for the reaction and the anger, it does not absolve one of the responsibility.  There is a difference from explanation and excuses, but that is hard for a child or an adult to see, especially if they have used these tactics for a period of time.

Even when children or adults continue to find a way of not taking responsibility and blaming others, we must recognize they are still feeling the pain and would very much like to get rid of the pain.  One nine year old said, “One part of my brain tells me to stay calm and another part tells me to by angry.  I can’t help it if the angry side wins.”  What you hear in this is a cry for help, a desire for understanding from others and to feel like they are in control of their feelings.  They don’t want to feel powerless.

What can we do to help a child or an adult who feels like this?  We must teach them to recognize the causes of the anger and suggest alternative resolutions to the problems.   This takes time and patience.  My personal example I think is a good one for that.  Every year at the beginning of November I became a bear to be around.  I was short with everyone and took nothing from nobody.  After looking at this deeply I realized that this was the time of the year that my father passed away when I was very young and subconciously I was still reacting to this.  I was 32 years old when I figured that out.  It takes patience.  But please remember that patience is part of the lesson of problem solving. 

Like in most things you will not solve problems by using the same thing against the problem.  Do not shout, blame or have pointless discussions that the person deserved what they got.  It solves nothing.  Find a way to suggest that even if someone else is to blame that we need to find a solution to handle this that benefits you.  This will be very helpful to the angry child or adult.

The consumption treadmill

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Have you ever tried to go a period of time, be it a week, month or year, without buying anything new except for food and toiletries. It is a very interesting experiment. I have given both thought and practice on this and have found that when we consume less, it gives us the opportunity to appreciate more the items that we already have.
One of the real epiphanies for me in this regard was the day I needed to eat lunch and I looked in the refrigerator and cupboard and decided “we didn’t have anything to eat”. Have you ever done that? Then in a moment I looked again and I thought to myself, there is a enough food in the house here that if we were a family in the (fill in the blank) I could eat for a whole year. What is wrong with me?
I enjoy shopping, but I never thought I was a slave to it. However, when we think of the slogan about recycling many times we forget the first two- Reduce, Reuse and then Recycle. Giving thanks for what we have been given already, allows us to register on an emotional and spiritual level that we have in fact, been given enough. Take some time and decide to stop shopping for 2 weeks to start, and feel the effects. While doing this practice give thanks for all the things that you already have.