Let’s try and exercise. The exercise is: Don’t think of an elephant! Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I’ve never found a client who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes associations. Elephants are large, have floppy ears and a trunk, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word elephant is defined relative to its features and context. When a person tries not to think about an elephant, for example, direct and associated experiences with elephants are likely to come to mind. In short, when you suppress a feeling, you evoke that feeling. This can be seen in everyday speech when you say, “Don’t worry, Don’t be late, Don’t blame me.” By saying “don’t” you are encouraging yourself to think and feel what you were trying to avoid. The conscious effort made to avoid concentrating on something can, ironically make our attention focus on something more.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
If a baby starts to cry several hours after drinking his last bottle, his mother knows precisely what he’s feeling: He’s hungry. But suppose a woman’s eyes brim with tears while she watches a DVD. Her husband sinks into the couch: What is she so upset about? She might tell him directly: “This movie is so tragic. It’s all about a doomed romance.” That may be true. But she could be thinking about how the story reminds her of her own marital troubles. Maybe she’s feeling hurt because she thinks her husband should realize what’s bothering her and acknowledge it. Or maybe she isn’t even aware that her real-world concerns are intensifying her reaction to the fictional couple.
Quickly and unknowingly, he scours his mental files—on his wife’s relationship history, on her reaction to the fight they had that morning, on the way she typically reacts to similar movies. He notes the particular quiver to her voice, observes the way she’s curled up on the couch, watches the expressions flickering across her face. He takes in information from all of these channels, filters it through his own wishes and biases… until finally it hits him: She knows about his mistress!
Every day, whether you’re pushing for a raise, wrestling with the kids over homework, or judging whether a friend really likes your latest redecorating spree, you’re reading other’s minds. Drawing on your observations, your databank of memories, your powers of reason, and your wellspring of emotion, you constantly make educated guesses about what another person is thinking and feeling. Throughout the most heated argument or the most lighthearted chat, you’re intently collecting clues to what’s on the other person’s mind at the moment.
No matter how much you try to control your body, you inevitably leak tiny bits of information, that if picked up read correctly by others will give your feelings away every time. Body language consists of communication through the use of facial expressions, eye behavior, gestures, posture, positioning, orientation, touch and the use of space. There are times you choose to express your emotions, needs, and attitudes through your body language and at other times your true feelings leak out accidentally, even sometimes contradicting the words you have spoken. In fact often most people find it easier to express how they are truly feeling by using their body language rather than their words. Over the centuries, many sayings have risen from what you have instinctively learned from watching others. Here are just a few:
BEADY LITTLE EYES: The pupils unconsciously constrict when someone is lying or being deceitful.
SHIFTY EYES: The eyes avert the gaze of when someone is lying, so the eyes shift around looking at anything and anyone but the recipient of the lie.
SPARKLE IN THE EYES: The pupils unconsciously dilate when someone is seeing something pleasurable; this action allows more light to be reflected off the back of the eye.
OPENING UP TO YOU: A physically open gesture, uncrossed arms and legs allowing more of you to be emotionally and physically vulnerable.
BITE YOUR LIP, TONGUE, LYING THROUGH YOUR TEETH, COVERING
UP: To stop you saying something inappropriate or lying you might bite your lip or cover your mouth as you tell the lie.
GUT FEELING, STOMACH CHURNING:
A physical feeling in the stomach indicating a dislike or uncertainty.
CHIN UP or OUT, SHOULDERS BACK:
Often said to people feeling a bit down, by raising the chin up and out with the shoulders back it causes physiological changes making you feel more positive.
FEET ON THE GROUND, STAND ON OWN TWO FEET: Refers back to the ancient Chinese custom of female foot binding, as those who had this done were usually Royalty and therefore could not or would not stand on their own two feet without causing pain.
STAND OFFISH: When people stand a just little to far away from you for comfort, outside your personal zone.
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE: When you don’t want someone to get to close to you, or into your personal zone.
PUSHY: Someone who invades the personal space of others will be often referred to as too pushy.
CLOSE, INTIMATE FRIENDS: Allowing someone into personal or intimate spatial zones.
PAIN IN THE NECK: A physical gesture when something is not to your liking.
GET A GRIP ON YOURSELF: Someone usually touch themselves for reassurance in times of stress; a tight grip on the upper arm is common.
UNDER THE THUMB: Controlled by another person, referring back to ancient Rome when the thumb turned downwards would almost certainly indicate death.
THUMBS UP: Generally a form of OK, Good or Yes, but be careful where you use this gesture, it can be highly offensive in some cultures.
MAKES MY SKIN CREEP, CRAWL, GETS UNDER MY SKIN: A physical sensation encountered when you are not comfortable in a particular persons company, conversation topic or tone. This is an expression mainly used by women, as women have been proven to be more sensitive to touch and are more aware of sensations than their male counterparts.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
What is anger management? Anger Management is the name of a movie that is intended to be funny, and it is.
But there is nothing funny about real anger management, it is a very serious issue. Anger management is the process of managing your anger, or perhaps it is better explained using the words controlling your anger.
While there are no public anger management statistics that could be found, there are studies about anger that are very compelling when you are trying to see the importance of anger management.
Anger control problems can affect your job and your relationships to a degree that you may not realize. The inability to control your anger can escalate.
You hear about angry employees who go after their bosses with high powered semi automatic rifles and end up killing 6 people and then himself once he realized what he had done.
These stories are on the news several times a year. Even more often you hear about cases of domestic violence and child abuse that are a result of someone losing control of their anger. 42% of all female deaths from homicide are the result of domestic violence.
Anger problems are not limited to adults who commit crimes and road rage, though.
Children can have anger control problems, too. The biggest problem with this is that many people don’t recognize anger control problems in children or think that it’s just a phase and that the children will grow out of it. However, even if it is a phase it needs to be dealt with.
If you look at the anger management statistics for children you will see that this is a very real problem.
According to the most recent report released from the US Department of Education, in the school year of 1999 to 2000 5.5% of school teachers were violently attacked by students and 10% of all elementary school kids who were expelled from school were expelled because they brought a firearm to school. This is much more than just a phase!
What is anger management? It is recognizing that you or someone you love has a problem controlling your anger and getting help for it before it is too late.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
If you find yourself more concerned about highly publicized dangers that grab your immediate attention such as terrorist attacks, while forgetting about the more mundane threats such as global warming, you’re not alone. And you can’t help it because it’s human nature. That’s because people tend to view their immediate emotions, such as their perceptions of threats or risks, as more intense and important than their previous emotions.
In one part of the study focusing on terrorist threats, researchers presented two scenarios to people in a college laboratory depicting warnings about traveling abroad to two countries. Participants were then asked to report which country seemed to have greater terrorist threats. Many of them reported that the country they last read about was more dangerous. What these findings show is that when people learn about risks, they will respond more strongly to what is right in front of them. Whatever the perceived threat of the moment is, will ‘crowd out’ concern about other threats, even if those other threats are actually more dangerous or more likely to occur. Because we are so emotionally influenced when it comes to assessing and reacting to threats, we may ignore very dangerous threats that happen not to be very emotionally arousing.
Human emotions stem from a very old system in the brain. When it comes to reacting to threats, real or exaggerated, it goes against the grain of thousands of years of evolution to just turn off that emotional reaction. It’s not something most people can do. And that’s a problem, because people’s emotions are fundamental to their judgments and decisions in everyday life. One of the things we know about how emotional reactions work is that they are not very objective, so people can get outraged or become fearful of what might actually be a relatively minor threat. One worry is some people are aware of these kinds of effects and can use them to manipulate our actions in ways that we may prefer to avoid.
Your brain is remarkably capable of making strong associations between paired cues (e.g., the growl of a tiger and threat). These associations involve the integration of multiple sensations (sight, sound, taste, touch, smell) and brain processing. Under ideal conditions, this capacity for association allows the brain to rapidly identify threat-associated sensory information. This allows you to act rapidly and promote long term survival. Learning the association between the growl of a vicious looking pit bull and danger should only take one experience. After that the experience of a growl is generalized to imply danger. Yet, the remarkable capacity of the brain to take a specific event and generalize, particularly with regard to threatening stimuli, makes humans vulnerable to false generalizations. This is explains why you get anxious without any obvious cause.
When observing a situation, the unconscious mind uses a little evidence to confirm a pre-existing theory. Let’s say, walking to work you smell smoke and hear a siren in the distance. Instantly, you picture a building on fire. However, contrary to the memorable information you have acquired on fire prevention, there is no fire. The smell of smoke is from a barbecue, and the siren is from a traffic cop. Here are two unrelated events that have been unconsciously associated and explained away by a pre-existing generalization.
Generalizations provide explanations for how things work and relate to one another. You seek explanations for everything. The brain then takes these explanations and makes generalizations to offer organization for how the world works. Generalizations are useful, they allows you to focus your attention on other things. Imagine eating a meal. Other than when to begin, the process of eating is automatic. No thought is required for raising a sandwich to your mouth. All of the actions are habits and operate on established patterns. The solution to the problem, of how to eat is made unconsciously, on autopilot. There are both physical and mental autopilots. Your mind does not have to think about how to eat, but it can if you want it to. In a similar way, if permitted to do so, the mind will analyze and interpret the world around you based on an autopilot-like setting. Imagine seeing someone in a white lab coat running across a road. They are headed towards two cars that are stopped by the roadside. People are milling around. You assume that someone is hurt. The person in the white coat is probably a doctor and there has been an accident. With just a few clues, you are able to paint a mental picture of what is happening.
Generalizations cause you to believe in the conclusion that your mind jumped to, based on a few scraps of information. For example, the newspaper reports an increase in drug-related crimes in your community. In a separate report, you read that immigrants have been arrested. Using mental shortcuts, your mind relates the two stories and comes to a conclusion that you believe is logical. Without any real evidence, you start to believe that crime and immigration are related. Over time you pay special attention to any news reports that appear to support your position and gradually become ever more convinced. To your mind, it is more important to have an explanation than to have an explanation that is accurate. So, reality and imagination get blurred and the boundary between the two is lost. A generalization implies, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Therefore, you assume your negative possibilities reflect reality.
A lecturer told me once: a million white swans cannot prove all swans are white. All it takes is one black swan to disprove that statement. This is how generalization works. Here you focus on the exception, the one black swan out of the million and uses it to prove the statement: “All swans are black.” So this style of emotional thinking implies if you fail at one thing, you will fail in everything else, so why try? Doesn’t this sound absurd? Hardly, I have a friend who once saw himself as a failure in life when he realized he didn’t fix a leaking faucet properly. He was a wealthy businessman, a loving father, a caring son, a thoughtful friend and a responsible person. But he felt since he couldn’t fix some as simple a leaking faucet he had failed and was a failure. He became his actions. He based his worth as a person on a single incident and piece of evidence. For example, I had a client who had a romantic rejection. He became consumed wth the the thought that, “Girls just don’t like me. I’ll always be alone.” Yet we all do this to some degree. If something bad happens to you once, you will then see it as a possibility of something that can happen again. ‘Always’ and ‘never’ are cues that this style of thinking is being utilized. These words make broad, sweeping assumptions that can lead to a restricted life, as you avoid future failures based on the single incident or event. When you make a false generalization, you are really trying to predict the future. You are trying to “head it off at the pass,” to prevent disaster before it occurs, but you are not living in reality. You are not in control. You are living in fear of impending disaster in the future. This is one of the main sources of anxiety in our lives. It is very stressful indeed.
I recently saw a client who was a loving mother, but experienced terrible anxiety related to the welfare of her children. She would be driving home from the store, while her kids, who were quite young, were safely at home with the babysitter. As she drove, some of the thoughts that would run through her head would be, “I wonder how things are going at home … that babysitter is a good one … she seems to always take such good care of the kids … I wonder if she is okay right now … I wonder if the kids are okay right now … sometimes that babysitter isn’t completely responsible … I’ll bet that babysitter has taken my kids outside to play in the park … that babysitter has probably taken the kids for a walk and left them alone far from my home … That awful babysitter has left my kids on their own and they don’t know how to get back home … my kids are in danger! … somebody is going to kidnap my kids and do very bad things to them … this kidnapper is going to hurt my kids very badly … and it is all my fault because I’m a terrible mother!!!”
By this time my client was having a panic attack. Her hands would ferociously clutch the steering wheel, her heartbeat would soar, and her thoughts would race madly about all the possible horrible things that were happening to her kids. She would drive home barely able to control herself for fear of what has become of her kids. She was literally driving herself crazy because of her worry filled thoughts about her kids. Of course, when she arrives home, her kids would be fine. They were happily playing with the babysitter and enjoying a pleasant afternoon in the backyard of their home. This loving mother had allowed her fearful thoughts to completely control her, to the point where she was doing major damage to her physical and emotional well-being. She was flooding her body with stress hormones and internally creating, a full-fledged stress response very much like what she would need if she were being chased by a big grizzly bear and had to protect her children from attack. Yet, as she was driving home, she could do absolutely nothing about what was happening with her kids and the babysitter. She had no control. She could not predict nor prevent any part of what was happening there. Meanwhile, her worrisome thoughts were completely immobilizing her and preventing her from enjoying some time to herself.
Whenever you worry about something, you are not really focusing on the event itself, but on the potentially painful, dangerous, or uncomfortable outcomes that may be associated with that event. Anxiety, worry or fear happens when you are letting thoughts about things that may or may not happen preoccupy your mind, rather then letting your thoughts focus on what is happening right here and now. These feelings are a way to plan and prepare you for a possible threat to your happiness. However, worry is not the same thing as planning. Planning occurs when you bring future moments into the present so you can apply appropriate control on those future events. When you plan, you are using your present moments in a useful way to appropriately prepare you for a future event or experience. When you worry, you focus on the possible painful outcomes that you associate with some future event. You are letting your present moment be filled with what “might” happen (and usually doesn’t).
Humans cannot predict the future, but we try. We are hardwired to plan. Humans planned for the cold winter months and were able to survive by saving food. Yet, humans are not fortune tellers that can predict the future. Nor can any human flap their arms and fly. We are just good at planning. We do not have the ability to predict the weather, how can we assume we can accurately know what will happen next in life. We like to think we know, but we don’t. Emotional thinking is deceptive. Emotional thinking is very certain and gives extraordinary confidence to your conclusions, even if they seem like a long shot. This is why I don’t play the lottery or gamble. Playing the lotto is a great example of how human try to predict the future. People go to the store and purchase their chance at millions of dollars, thinking that the numbers they selected are the right ones. No one would pay for a ticket if they thought they were wrong. People assume that buy getting a lotto ticket there is a chance, no matter how remote that things may turn out their way. But very few of us are fortunate enough to win the lotto.
The old cliché is true, that if stands in the middle of life . How might your life have unfolded differently? What if your parents never met? Perhaps you should have studied harder in school, or asked out so-and-so when you had the chance. Such thoughts of what might have been seem to be a common part of everyday thinking, sometimes irresistibly drawing your attention. Many of my clients struggle with what is known as counterfactual thinking, but you and I know it as a “what if?” approach to life. Your thoughts may almost seem programmed to focus on events that have never even occurred. Very often I hear, “If I had only gotten this job I’d be happier,” “if I had asked this woman out on a date life would be better,” or “if had I not gotten into that car accident I’d be in a much better spot.” People focus on how they would of liked thing to be rather then how they are. They assume that “if only this had or had not occurred” they would be happier, or at least have a greater sense of satisfaction in their lives.
Some of us will get the things we want, and others won’t. The more interesting question is: Why do people who get what they want rarely end up as happy as they expected, while people who fail to achieve dreams rarely end up as unhappy as they feared? Why do you systematically fail to predict how happy and unhappy you will be? Why do you do this? Well its simple, predicting the future is inherently difficult. But even when you know what is going to happen, you base your estimates of your future happiness, on the person you are today. But you fail to appreciate, not only that you will be different tomorrow. That the very things you seek will change who you are. When you make choices to avoid risks that may bring you sorrow or desperately seek some symbol of success, you fail to appreciate how quickly you will absorb such pleasurable events and move on.
People make mistakes when they try to predict what will make them happy in the future, which has been called “emotional estimates.” Anyone who has ever said “I think I’d prefer chocolate to vanilla” or “I’d rather be a lawyer than a banjo player” has made an emotional estimates and tried to predict what would make them happy. And anyone who has made an emotional estimate has found out that sometimes they are wrong. Its pretty amazing how poorly people predicted the emotional consequences of future events, both large and small. Should I get married? Have a family? Pursue a career as musician or teacher? Go out to dinner or stay home and watch a made-for-television movie? Decisions such as these, virtually all of life’s big decisions are based on predictions about how the different options will make you feel in the future.
Foreseeing the future is one of the most appealing of all powers. Who has not dreamed of making millions by predicting which new offering on Wall Street will be the next Microsoft and whether the Red Sox or Phillies will win the World Series? Seeing into the future would bring many advantages other than fattening your wallet, such as eliminating all decision making angst. Rather than worrying about whether you are best suited for a career as a lawyer or an interior designer, whether you should marry Sam or Harry, or whether you should buy your neighbor’s 1992 Volvo, you could simply glance into your crystal ball and see how these various options would pan out. They want to know the future price of Microsoft stock so that they can make money, which they believe will increase their happiness. The pursuit of happiness is one of the most fundamental of all human motives, and if people had crystal balls in good working order, they would peer into them most often to try to achieve that goal.
People do not have crystal balls, of course (at least not accurate ones) and thus must prognosticate as best they can, based on what they know in the present and what they have learned in the past. There is a great deal of research on how people make predictions about the future. Until recently, virtually all research on prediction has focused on people’s ability to anticipate the occurrence of future external events (e.g., “will the price of Microsoft stock go up or down?”) or their own behavior (e.g., “am I likely to get divorced in the next 10 years?”). But, a crucial form of prediction has been overlooked, namely people’s ability to forecast their own feelings. What people really want to know about the future, is what their level of happiness and well-being will be.
Human beings possess a unique ability to engage in emotional time travel, mentally fast forwarding through time to envision how much they will love their spouse five years later or how much they will enjoy a hot fudge sundae next Thursday. Emotional time travel is not without its pitfalls, however, as recent research has documented. At the most obvious level, people may make inaccurate predictions about how they will feel in a situation because the situation unfolds differently than they expect. For example, if a vacationer imagines a week of swimming and surfing in Australia and arrives to find the beaches swarming with man-eating sharks and deadly jellyfish, her actual emotional experiences during the vacation are likely to diverge sharply from her original expectations. Yet, even if the situation people experience objectively matches the situation they imagined, people face a fundamentally different psychological situation when they experience an event than when they imagine it. The failure to recognize this basic point begets a wide variety of affective forecasting errors.
Modern people take the ability to imagine the future for granted, but it turns out that this is one of our species’ most recently acquired abilities—no more than three million years old. The part of our brain that enables us to think about the future is one of nature’s newest inventions, so it isn’t surprising that when we try to use this new ability to imagine our futures, we make some rookie errors. Experiencing an event is fundamentally different from imagining it because once an event occurs people are generally motivated to make the best of it. Upon finding herself sharing a beach with sharks and jellyfish, for example, our traveler might find pleasure in the opportunity to observe exotic wildlife in their natural habitat, though she probably would not have foreseen her own ability to reconstrue the situation in this way. Indeed, people are extremely adept at reconstrual, rationalization, and other mental transformations that take the sting out of unwanted events, but they are often blind to these tools of the unconscious. As a result of this blindness, they often overestimate how miserable they will feel when faced with misfortune, as well as how long they will feel that way.
Whether positive or negative, imagining an event is very different from experiencing it because people tend to imagine a specific event in isolation, whereas events are rarely experienced in a vacuum. For example, in imagining how happy he will feel on the day his first child is born, an expectant father is likely to focus on the miraculous arrival of his new baby, while forgetting that the taste of hospital food, the chatter of relatives, and the songs playing in the waiting room will serve as the background, at least temporarily distracting him from the main event. Thus, because people have a narrow, isolated focus, without regard to background distractions, they tend to overestimate their emotional reactions to both positive and negative events.
Suppose, for example, that a person is suffering from a cold when trying to decide whether to accept an invitation to a party the following month, and her current negative feelings taint her assessment of how she will feel at the party. This has been referred to as projection bias, defined as the tendency for people to “underappreciate the effects of changes in their states, and hence falsely project their current preferences . . . onto their future preferences” people attempt to come up with an unbiased estimate of what their affective state will be in the future, but their assessment is contaminated by unique influences on their current affective state.
Researchers found that when people shop for food to be consumed later, they are influenced by their current state of hunger. Shoppers who have not eaten for several hours think, “Surely I will want several bags of corn chips and a couple of cartons of ice cream next week,” failing to adjust for the fact that they will often be full during the week and not experiencing the same cravings. Just as people who shop when hungry purchase too many junk foods, people who shop when they are full may purchase too few, underestimating how much they will want a bag of corn chips when watching television late the next night. In addition to failing to anticipate unique influences on their emotional reactions to an event, people often fail to anticipate the extent to which unrelated events will influence their thoughts and emotions. The pleasures and pains, joys and sufferings, which people actually experience, often fall short of what they had anticipated
When people think about how they will feel when a future event occurs, they first must bring to mind a representation of that event. If people have experienced the event many times before (e.g., commuting to work), they can form such a representation effortlessly by recalling a prototype or exemplar of it. When people think about events that they have not experienced before, such as the birth of a child, getting married, or attending a party at the house of a new acquaintance, they need to construct a representation of what the event is likely to entail. people mistakenly imagine the event. When asked how she will feel at the birth of her first child, a woman might imagine a trouble-free, natural delivery followed by a quiet period of intimate bonding with the baby. What happens instead is 24 hours of painful labor, a Cesarean-section, and intrusive visits from in-laws armed with video cameras.
In anticipating a coming event we have it alone in mind, and make no consideration of other occurrences When considering how their emotional lives will be influenced by a future occurrence, such as the outcome of an election or sporting event, people tend to think of their lives in a vacuum, focusing on that occurrence alone (“I’ll be thrilled for days if Finkleberry wins the election”). Events do not occur in a vacuum of course, but in the rich context of many other events in people’s lives. By neglecting to consider how much these other events will capture their attention and influence their emotions, people mistakenly estimate the impact of the event.
There are a number of concepts used to explain these peculiar findings. The problem frequently highlighted is we have a tendency to underestimate the extent to which other events will influence our thoughts and feelings in the future. For example, we set the alarm for 5 a.m. as you slide into bed at midnight with the intention of an early-morning run. On what are you basis do you make this choice of what time to get up, on your present optimistic feelings that night of course. This is certainly not how you’re feeling 5 hours later in the darkness before dawn. The consequence? You hit snooze, roll over and change your behavior to correspond with reality, your still tired. I am not thinking about how I usually feel at 5 a.m. on any given day – tired! And, when I’m tired, I’m not particularly happy. I’m basing my feelings about running tomorrow on my feelings at the moment I’m making the choice to get up early. However, at 5 a.m. when I awake to the alarm tired and unhappy to be so tired, the temptation is to give in to feel good. That is, I will now take the more preferable action, preferable because I anticipate I’ll feel better, and that is to sleep. Short term gain, but long-term consequences for my health goals.
So this raises the question of whether these mistaken estimations are functional in some way. It does not seem functional to under/overestimate the intensity and duration of one’s negative emotional reactions. This can be especially painful when you cannot do anything to influence the outcome, which only exaggerates unnecessary worry and anger. Of course people need to prepare for uncontrollable negative events by looking for another job or working hard on applications to other colleges, but it does not seem beneficial to exaggerate how badly one will feel if an uncontrollable event happens.
It is easy to imagine how overestimating the intensity and duration of negative outcomes can serve as motivation for people to work hard in the present to prevent these outcomes from occurring in the future. Exaggerating the intensity and duration of reactions to positive events can also serve as a motivator, leading people to work harder to obtain these outcomes. Further, there is utility in anticipating positive events, and people find substantial enjoyment exaggerating the pleasure they will experience in the future (e.g., “the concert will be a real peak experience”). Yet, sometimes people have no control over future outcomes, such as the possibility that the large corporation that is about to go bankrupt or that the college that turns you down.
So, exaggerating the impact of events, such as a job promotion might serve to increase people’s motivation to work toward it. But why should people work hard toward something that will not bring as much gratification as they think? Wouldn’t it be to people’s advantage to have a better idea of the intensity and duration of the pleasure that they would derive from different events? Consider people who are thinking of buying expensive items such as a television set or new car. Part of the decision involves a forecast of their happiness. People are willing to pay more for an item if they think it will cause lasting intense pleasure, than if they think it will make them happy for only an hour or a day. If people overestimate how much pleasure a television set or new car will bring, they are paying more for these items, than they should.
Clearly, if people misunderstand how a situation will influence their behavior, their predictions about how they will feel in these situations, will be incorrect. For example, women were asked to predict how they would react if they were asked sexually harassing questions during a job interview and compared these predictions to the actual reactions of women who really were asked the sexually harassing questions during an interview. The forecasters’ predictions were surprisingly at odds with the experiences of the women who participated in the real interview, in part because they imagined a different situation than the one faced by the experiencers. The forecasters imagined a situation in which it would be easy to confront the interviewer and where their primary emotional reaction would be anger. In the real interview the women were suddenly faced by a confusing and surprising interaction in which their primary emotional reaction was fear. Sixty-eight percent of forecasters said they would refuse to answer at least one of the three questions, whereas every experiencer answered every question. Twenty-eight percent of the forecasters said that they would confront the interviewer or leave; none of the experiencers did so. The researchers noted that women are often unfairly blamed for failing to confront harassment, precisely because of this kind of error. People imagine a situation in which it is easy to confront a harasser, failing to appreciate that the situation will be a more complex one in which they experience intimidation, confusion, and fear.
Clearly, errors in predicting what will make you happy interfere with the pursuit of your happiness. People often seek out things that will not increase their happiness or fervently avoid things that will not decrease their happiness. Interestingly, people may fall into these traps even when they consciously recognize what matters for their happiness, leading them to pursue goals whose fruition may produce little happiness.
Affective forecasting errors have important implications for both physical and mental health. People may delay getting tested for serious health problems in part because they anticipate lasting misery if the test reveals unwanted results. Yet, such dire forecasts may be inaccurate. Similarly, people seem to overestimate how unhappy they would be while undergoing treatment for a serious disorder, suggesting that people may sometimes resist medical treatment because they fail to recognize how readily they will adapt to it.
Beyond interfering with one’s own health and happiness, affective forecasting errors have important interpersonal consequences. When faced with the challenge of understanding how another person feels in a given situation, people typically begin by predicting how they themselves would feel in the situation and then adjust for differences between themselves and others. Therefore, to the extent that people mispredict their own feelings, they may also misunderstand others’ feelings and their corresponding behaviors. If people fail to understand others’ emotions, then the behaviors corresponding to these unpredicted emotions are likely to seem inappropriate and may be viewed as evidence of undesirable personality traits.
People tend to make extreme exaggerated predictions about their emotional responses to an upcoming event because they neglect consideration of the circumstances. Therefore, simply asking people to think about these background events and activities can reduce the extremity of their forecasts. For example, college football fans made more restrained predictions about how they would feel in the days following a win or loss by their team, when they first described the other activities they would be engaged in during that time.
Your predictions may be improved not only by drawing your attention to background events, but also by drawing your attention to features of the anticipated event or outcome, which you may typically overlook. This is necessary because of the isolations effect. The isolation effect occurs when people are faced with a set of options, and they typically isolate certain features that make each option different, while neglecting the features that are shared or similar in all the options. For example, in looking at colleges, students may focus on a few features that differentiate the colleges (e.g., location) while paying little attention to their many shared features (e.g., size, extracurriculars). Asking people to think about features that are similar or shared across outcomes can lead them to place more attention on such features, which are equally important for actual happiness.
The true power of the mind is always available. It is the hidden resource that can provide lifesaving insights to people in danger, calming realizations to people in despair, career saving insights to people in fear of failure, world changing ideas to people who are inventors or discoverers. What does it take produce quality thinking? First, it requires you to accept that it is without a doubt in the capacity of all humanity to think clearly, intuitively, in a wise and responsive way, learning about life from moment to moment.
The most compelling evidence of this is any conversation with any child; young children consistently and quite unaffectedly think this way. We make light of it with books and programs like “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, Art Linkletter’s popular feature of the 1950’s and ‘60’s. But such compilations provide significant proof that it is universally intrinsic to humanity to generate original ideas on the basis of nothing. And when one listens carefully to children, one hears the consistent tendency towards generalization towards seeing patterns and meaning more profound than the facts or literal words at hand.
Second, it takes the recognition that it is a direction. Thinking about your thinking excludes the natural flow of ideas because it darkens the windows of “I wonder…” with the detritus of “I already know…” While a person is in the state of already knowing, curiosity is held at bay. Questions that would occur naturally in a state of wonder have no place in that other realm and do not come to mind. For example, if I am listening to a political speech and my mind is fully occupied with cataloging that with which I agree, that with which I disagree and that which I consider stupid so I can keep score, I will not hear “new” ideas. Someone sitting next to me listening to see what can be learned and understood from the speaker might have an insight about the solution to a political problem that transcends the speaker’s ideas, but was born of the interaction between psychological readiness to learn and ideas being expressed. I would walk away with my disgust of politics reaffirmed by experience; the other person would walk away with a great idea and a sense of hopefulness that transcended politics.
Third, it takes the faith that, regardless of how discouraged or habitually overwrought a person might be, looking in that direction will dissolve the thinking that fed the feelings of negativity and stress. As soon as the mind is at rest, the flow of responsive, common sense thinking resumes and will continue unabated until it is once more interrupted by a deliberately orchestrated change in mental direction. The ability to generalize is nothing more than the ability to sustain faith in the flow of ideas long enough for wisdom to deepen. The habit of “pouncing on” and doing something with the first good idea that comes to mind is a lack of patience and a lack of experience with allowing ideas to evolve, to blossom to their own fullness.
Quality thinking involves the ability to see beyond details and differences to generalized meaning, looking to understand the source and nature of thought itself. It is as helpful to a stressed out homeless drug abuser as it is to a pumped up, arrogant business person as it is to a worried single mother as it is to an hallucinating psychotic. Rather than emphasizing differences and details, quality thinking points all people toward their hardwired capacity to think anew, to glean an understanding of life itself, forming and reforming through the flow of intelligent thought in a calm and unfettered mind.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
This seems to be Self-Righteous Indignation Month. Apparently I did not receive the memo. I’m seeing so many clients this month who are filled with self-righteous indignation about the behavior of other people. They really get themselves worked up over it and come in totally frustrated and angry. What is this all about?
The term “self-righteous” is defined by yourdictionary.com as “filled with or showing a conviction of being morally superior, or more righteous than others; smugly virtuous”
Beautiful. That’s exactly it. Not virtuous, but smugly virtuous. It is about feeling superior to someone else. Most of us are most easily tempted into self-righteous indignation when driving. The driver ahead of us is driving too slow, too fast, cuts us off or makes some other terribly heinous error. And we are filled with outrage. We lay on the horn and yell and make sure everyone around knows that driver is not driving “correctly” (or at least how we define correct driving). The nerve of that guy! What a loser.
When listening to someone smoldering with self-righteous indignation I often hear the words, “right”, “fair” or “should”. “They should do it this way.” “They are not doing it the right way.” “It’s not fair.” Why shouldn’t we distinguish when people aren’t doing things “correctly”, or the way they “should” be done, or the “fair” way? For two reasons:
1. Because it’s not real. They aren’t doing it that way. They are doing it “wrong” or in a way they “shouldn’t” or “unfairly”. That is the reality. That is what’s happening. Expecting them to do something else just sets you up to be frustrated and angry.
2. Because it makes us unhappy. I always ask people, “how much time and energy have you invested in being upset about this? What could you have done with that time and energy instead? Most have invested a lot of both. And for what? Is this issue really that important?
If self-righteous indignation isn’t real and it makes us frustrated and angry, why do so many of us do it? Because it feels good. It feels “right”. We feel superior to that idiot over there doing things “wrong”. We feel better than that loser over there being “unfair”.
By pointing out the errors of someone else we are attempting to position ourselves as better than them. People with low self esteem, people who are unhappy in their lives, people who are frustrated with where they are in life are most susceptible to self-righteous indignation. By finding someone we believe to be less than or worse than ourselves and condemning them, we manage to feel some sort of superiority.
We can also use this to sabotage ourselves or make ourselves a target. Being intolerant of the mistakes of other people, and pointing them out loudly, will not make you popular. And it can totally destroy a career. I frequently see people living out the Scapegoat role utilizing this technique to alienate themselves.
A client came into my office fuming about her boss at work and how he was mishandling an account by giving a client preferential treatment. The client made a point of telling him that he was mishandling the account and did not except his explanation as being valid. She then went over his head and complained to his boss. When I asked how the mishandling of this account affected her she could not readily answer. She had no interactions with the client, it didn’t affect her clients, and she would not be held responsible for the account. She then continued to rail against the unfairness of the preferential treatment and her need to expose it. She denied ulterior motives or her long and conflictual relationship with the boss. She denied her wish to see him punished and stated she was unaware of any possible fallout from this action. She reported telling the boss’ superior that she did not mean to be a “tattletale”, but that she needed to know if this was “right” or not. When I asked her what her gut told her about whether it was right or not, she admitted that she already knew it was wrong and her boss’ explanation flimsy. But she continued to insist that she had to go over his head to find out “for sure” whether she was right or not. She was completed surprised when, a few weeks later, the boss attempted to have her transferred to another office. She had completed sabotaged herself with her boss in her need to be self-righteous. This is a pattern she has replicated in many offices prior to this. Her self-righteous intolerance of the foibles of other people and her need to confront superiors about them makes her a target, or a scapegoat. She eventually is let go or fired. Yet she continues to maintain this behavior. She had rather be “right” than employed.
If you are guilty of this pattern, how do you stop it?
1. Instead of deciding what people should be doing, look at what they are doing and then decide how to react to it.
2. If you find yourself condemning people, examine your motives. Is the issue itself really that important? Is it really worth your time and energy? Is this really a battle you want to take on? Or are you doing it for some other reason?
3. Feel your feelings. How do you feel when you are complaining about or reporting this behavior? Superior? Powerful? Is that the true motivation for it, rather than righting a wrong?
4. Examine the effects. What effects is this behavior having on your life? Has it damaged your career? Cost you friends? Caused conflict within your family?
5. Repeat after me: “I cannot change other people’s behavior, only my own.” You have no power over other people. Whatever they are doing is what they are going to do. The only person you can change is yourself. And most of us have more than enough work to do developing ourselves without taking on other people’s issues.
Self-righteous indignation is a heady, powerful emotion that can be quite exhilarating. But it comes at a high cost. If you can only bring yourself up by putting other people down perhaps you need to look at that. Perhaps your time and energy would be better spent developing your own character rather than shooting down other people’s.
Scream at the boss? Snap at a colleague? Throw your cell phone into your @#$%%&* computer monitor? If so, you may find yourself headed to anger-management classes, which have become an all-purpose antidote for fit-throwing celebrities, chair-throwing coaches, vandals, road ragers, delinquent teens, disruptive airline passengers, and obstreperous employees.
Demand for such programs is coming from courts seeking alternatives to jail sentences and companies hoping to avoid lawsuits and office blowups. Aware that high-pressure jobs can make for hot tempers, some professions offer pre-emptive anger management. A few state bar associations now require “civility” training for lawyers renewing their licenses. And as of last year, hospitals must have programs for “disruptive” physicians as a condition of accreditation.
Programs run the gamut from $300-an-hour private therapists to one-day intensive seminars, weekly group sessions or online courses with no human interaction. Many advertise that they satisfy court requirements—even if all they offer is six CDs and a certificate of completion.
It’s not clear if the programs work, as few studies have analyzed their effectiveness. There are no licensing requirements for anger-management trainers—anyone can open a business. And since participants don’t usually sign up voluntarily, trainers say it’s possible to complete a program without actually changing one’s behavior.
Part of the problem is that professionals can’t agree whether a pattern of angry outbursts signals a mental illness or simply a behavior issue. As a result, people who need psychiatric help may instead get shunted into a short-term anger-management course. Employers and courts may not adequately evaluate people before sending them for anger interventions, nor provide sufficient follow-up.
There have been some notable failures—the Columbine shooters, for example, attended anger-management classes before their 1999 killing spree. Amy Bishop, the University of Alabama biologist who allegedly killed three colleagues and wounded three more last month, had been advised by prosecutors to take anger-management classes after an earlier incident in 2002. Her lawyer says he doesn’t know if she did.
Psychiatrists generally recommend a psychiatric exam for people with severe anger problems, because anger can often accompany depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The closest thing to a formal diagnosis for anger alone is Intermittent Explosive Disorder, defined as episodes of aggression against people or property out of proportion to any provocation. In 2006, studies at Harvard University and the University of Chicago estimated that one in 20 Americans (mostly men) may fit the criteria for IED. Some respond well to antidepressants, particularly serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Brain scans of people with IED found that when they were shown pictures of angry faces, their amygdalae, the primitive, emotional part of the brain, lit up with activity, but not the frontal cortex, which normally exercises impulse control.
“These people are hot heads, and the people around them are walking on egg shells. They don’t know when they are going to blow up next,” says University of Chicago psychiatrist Emil Coccaro, a leading IED researcher.
IED, recognized as a psychiatric illness since 1980, may be combined with a new disorder, termed Temper Dysregulation Disorder, in the next edition of the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the DSM-V, because both are believed to begin in adolescence.
Psychologists believe that individual talk therapy is the most effective for anger problems. “Anger doesn’t occur by itself. It’s nested and embedded with a lot of other emotions—sadness, grief, shame,” says Raymond Novaco, a University of California, Irvine, psychologist who widely credited with coining the term “anger management” in the 1970s and developed several widely used measurement scales. “Angry people want to talk, given the opportunity,” he says.
Professional anger-management trainers say that in most cases anger isn’t an illness but a normal human emotion that causes problems when it flares too hot, too often. They believe people can learn to manage their anger with practical skills.
“I don’t want everybody who calls up for anger management to be assumed to have a mental illness,” says Ian Shaffer, chief medical officer for MHN, a subsidiary of Health Net Inc., which runs employee-assistance programs for companies, including anger management. MHN’s anger-management program takes the form of conference calls. After an individual evaluation, employees whose jobs are on the line because of anger issues are told to call an 800 number for a 90-minute group discussion with a facilitator twice a week for six sessions. All participants are anonymous. MHN says one in-house study found that three-fourths of the employees whose jobs were in jeopardy were in good standing after completing the program.
How can they tell if the employees aren’t working at the computer or filing their nails during the sessions? “We can’t—but we can tell if you’re participating or progressing,” says Dr. Shaffer, a psychiatrist. “People can sandbag you—bright people know what to say to make it sound like they are progressing,” he says. “But at the end of the day, we go back and ask your supervisor if you’re better.”
Most anger-management programs stress “emotional intelligence”—the idea that understanding why you are frustrated or annoyed or upset, and finding a calm, constructive means to get your way, is far more effective than losing your temper.
George Anderson, founder of Anderson & Anderson, a Brentwood, Calif., firm, says some people who get angry in the workplace are perfectionists who expect perfection from others, while some are subconsciously masking feelings of vulnerability. His firm offers dozens of customized anger-management programs for different professions. Among these: a $5,400 intensive on-site intervention for furious physicians who’ve lost hospital privileges due to patient or staff complaints.
Mr. Anderson tells of watching one surgeon ream out someone via cell phone while performing open-heart surgery. He says he helped the doctor realize he’d be more effective with a different approach.
“I’m not always successful,” Mr. Anderson says. “I usually say, look, you’re paying a lot of money for this… What would you be wiling to change? You’ve tried passive aggressive and it turns people off. Let’s try assertive communication—you see if it works.”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Whether you are running for president or looking for a clerical job, you cannot afford to get angry if you are a woman, Yale University psychologist Victoria Brescoll has found.
Brescoll and Eric Uhlmann at Northwestern University recently completed three separate studies to explore a phenomenon that may be all-too-familiar to women like New York Senator Hillary Clinton: People accept and even reward men who get angry but view women who lose their temper as less competent.
The studies, published in the March issue of Psychological Science, provide women with recommendations for navigating emotional hazards of the workplace. Brescoll says it pays to stay emotionally neutral and, if you can’t, at least explain what ticked you off in the first place.
Clinton’s presidential campaign has put a spotlight on the question of whether anger hurts a female candidate. The answer, according to the studies, appears to be an unequivocal yes – unless the anger deals with treatment of a family member.
“An angry woman loses status, no matter what her position,” said Brescoll, who worked in Clinton’s office as a Congressional Fellow in 2004 while she was preparing her doctoral thesis on gender bias. She noticed over the years that women pay a clear price for showing anger and men don’t.
In all studies, both men and women were shown videos of actors portraying men and women who were ostensibly applying for a job. The participants in the studies were then asked to rate applicants on how much responsibility they should be given, their perceived competence, whether they should be hired, and how much they should get paid.
Both men and women in the reached the same conclusions: Angry men deserved more status, a higher salary, and were expected to be better at the job than angry women.
When those actor/applicants expressed sadness, however, the bias was less evident, and women applicants were ranked equally to men in status and competence, but not in salary.
Brescoll and her colleague then compared angry job applicants to ones who did not display any emotion. And this time the researchers showed study participants videos of both men and women applying for lower-status jobs. The findings were duplicated: Angry men were valued more highly than angry women no matter what level position they were applying for. However, the disparities disappeared when men and women who were emotionally neutral were ranked.
A final study showed another way bias against female anger could be mitigated. When women actors explained why they were angry, observers tended to cut them more slack. However, Brescoll noted a final gender difference: Men could actually be hurt when they explained why they were angry – perhaps, says the Yale psychologist, because observers tend to see this as a sign of weakness.
Psychological Science 19: 268-275 (March 2008)Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Think about this the next time someone cuts you off in traffic or in a grocery store line: Anger can bring on a heart attack or stroke.
That’s the conclusion of several studies at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere. One study of 1,305 men with an average age of 62 revealed that the angriest men were three times more likely to develop heart disease than the most placid ones.
Angry older men, as stereotypes go, are most vulnerable. But excessive ire can take a toll at any age. Researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine tracked 1,055 medical students for 36 years. Compared with cooler heads, the hotheads were six times more likely to suffer heart attacks by age 55 and three times more likely to develop any form of heart or blood vessel disease.
The conclusion is clear: Anger is bad for you at any age. “Among young adults, it’s a predictor of premature heart disease later in life,” says Harvey Simon, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Most anger research has focused on men, so whether the same risk applies to women remains unknown. One study, published in 1995, found that, during two hours after an angry outburst, a individual’s risk of having a heart attack was more than twice that of someone who had not lost their cool. Out of 1,623 people in that study, 501 were women.
“Almost all the anger research I’m familiar with has focused on men,” notes Simon. “However, based on a 2006 study of road rage, I would guess that women are less prone to severe anger and thus to its deleterious effects, which include heart attack, stroke, and even impaired lung function.”
A Harvard study, published in August, concluded that men who showed high hostility at the start of the eight-year investigation exhibited significantly poorer lung function at the end of it. “This research shows that hostility is associated with poorer [lung] function and more rapid rates of decline among older men,” notes Rosalind Wright, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Strokes of anger
Over the years, then, anger increases a man’s and, probably less so, a woman’s chances of heart disease. But, what about a single burst of rage, the guy who cuts in front of you just before the exit ramp? The answer apparently is “yes.” In the Harvard study of 1,623 patients, which included 501 women, intensive anger more than doubled their risk of heart attack if the emotion occurred in the two hours previous to the heart attack.
In an evaluation of 200 stroke patients in Israel, researchers linked a bout of intense anger to a 14-fold increase in risk of stroke within two hours of the emotional incident.
Results from a study published this year found that of more than 2,500 patients treated in emergency rooms in Missouri hospitals, about 500 of them were torn by anger just before the injury. The greater the anger, the higher the risk, researchers concluded.
Anger comes in many doses: annoyance, irritability, frustration, vexation, resentment, animosity, ire, indignation, wrath, and rage, for example. Most people know when they’re mad. If not, someone is bound to tell them so, sooner or later.
Psychologists have developed a scale that rates anger levels. It’s a true-or-false test that presents statements like: “At times I feel like smashing things.” “I easily become impatient with people,” “I’ve been so angry at times that I’ve hurt someone in a physical fight.”
Once you decide how irate you are, you need to decide what to do about it. For a start you can see your family doctor about the wisdom of taking an aspirin a day. Harvard researchers recently found that a single low-dose (81 mg) pill can reduce anger-caused heart attacks by 40 percent. In other words, a daily aspirin may cut the risk of breaking an angry heart by almost half.
How to be cool
Simon adds more advice in the September issue of Harvard Men’s Health Watch, which he edits. “Try to identify the things that bother you most and do your best to change them,” he suggests. “Learn to recognize warning signs of building tension, such as a racing pulse, fast breathing, or a jumpy, restless feeling. When you recognize such signals, take steps to relieve the tension. Often something as simple as a walk can cool things down.”
Don’t boil in silence. Talk out your feelings with your spouse, partner, or a good friend. If that doesn’t work, write down your feelings. Try to explain to yourself why you are so irritated or vexed.
Simon also suggests learning to meditate, or experimenting with deep breathing exercises. Also, you can, with practice, change behaviors that light your fuse. Here are some examples: Don’t always try to have the last word. Try not to raise your voice. Don’t curse. Wait a few seconds when you feel on outburst coming on then try to express yourself calmly. Don’t grimace or clench your teeth. Practice smiling.
If all such efforts fail, angry people can seek professional help. A 2002 study reported that stress management classes can protect men from anger-induced heart problems, and individual counseling may be even better.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
If a caller upsets you, do you hurl the phone across the room? Do you curse and blast the horn furiously if the driver in front of you takes three seconds to notice the green light? An angry temperament can hurt more than relationships – anger and heart disease may go hand in hand, according to experts.
“You’re talking about people who seem to experience high levels of anger very frequently,” says Laura Kubzansky, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health who has studied the role of stress and emotion on cardiovascular disease.
Moderate anger may not be the problem, she says. In fact, expressing one’s anger in reasonable ways can be healthy. “Being able to tell people that you’re angry can be extremely functional,” she says.
But explosive people who throw things or scream at others may be at greater risk, as well as those who harbor suppressed rage, she says. “Either end of the continuum is problematic.”
Gender doesn’t appear to make much difference, she adds. “Once people are chronically angry, men and women seem to be at equally high risk.”
Scientists don’t all agree that anger plays a role in heart disease, she says. But many studies have suggested a significant link. “I think the case is strong,” Kubzansky says.
For example, one large study published in Circulation in 2000 found that among 12,986 middle-aged African-American and white men and women, those who rated high in traits such as anger — but had normal blood pressure — were more prone to coronary artery disease (CAD) or heart attack. In fact, the angriest people faced roughly twice the risk of CAD and almost three times the risk of heart attack compared to subjects with the lowest levels of anger.
Anger may not be the only culprit in heart disease risk. Kubzansky’s own research suggests that other extreme, negative emotions may contribute, too. “Anger is a problem, but so, too, are high levels of anxiety and depression. They tend to co-occur. People who are angry a lot also tend to have other chronic negative emotions as well.
How might hotheads be hurting their hearts?
Scientists speculate that anger may produce direct biological effects on the heart and arteries. Negative emotions, such as anger, quickly activate the “fight-or-flight response.” They also trigger the “stress axis,” Kubzansky says. “That’s a slightly slower response, but it activates a cascade of neurochemicals that are all geared toward helping you in the short run if you’re facing a crisis.”
While these stress responses mobilize us for emergencies, they might cause harm if repeatedly activated. “When they persist over time, they end up being potentially damaging,” she says.
For example, excessive amounts of stress hormones may speed up the process of atherosclerosis, in which fatty plaques build up in arteries, Kubzansky says.
Anger may also disrupt the electrical impulses of the heart and provoke dangerous heart rhythm disturbances.
Other research suggests that stress hormones may lead to higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance linked to atherosclerosis and future heart disease risk. In 2004, Duke University scientists who studied 127 healthy men and women found that those prone to anger, hostility, and depression had two to three times higher CRP levels than their more placid peers.
“CRP levels at this range are associated with inflammation that is likely to eventually increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke,” says researcher Edward Suarez, PhD. The findings were published in Psychosomatic Medicine.
Besides direct biological effects, lifestyle factors also come into play. Angry people may take worse care of themselves. “People who are chronically distressed may not behave in health-promoting ways,” Kubzansky says. “We know that anxious, depressed, angry people are more likely to smoke, less likely to engage in physical activity, have poor nutritional habits and drink to excess.”
Anger — as well as anxiety, depression and other negative emotions — are a part of life, Kubzansky says. They can serve useful purposes. “But if people find that they have them chronically and at high levels and can’t seem to get away from it, I view it like pain. It’s a signal that something needs to change. This is not how it’s supposed to be.”
Anger is intertwined with other problems that may end up harming the heart, says psychologist Wayne Sotile, PhD. “If you mismanage anger, it’s going to compromise your most intimate relationships,” he says. “It’s going to isolate you from others. The likelihood increases that you’ll get depressed, and you’re going to cause problems in your life that increase anxiety and worry.”
Sotile is director of psychological services for the Wake Forest University Healthy Exercise and Lifestyle Programs and a special consultant in behavioral health for the Center for Cardiovascular Health at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.
Counseling and anger management classes can help the chronically angry to get their deep-seated emotions under control. But you can take more immediate steps, too, experts say.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Anger is a basic human emotion that is experienced by all people. Typically triggered by an emotional hurt, anger is usually experienced as an unpleasant feeling that occurs when we think we have been injured, mistreated, opposed in our long-held views, or when we are faced with obstacles that keep us from attaining personal goals.
The experience of anger varies widely; how often anger occurs, how intensely it is felt, and how long it lasts are different for each person. People also vary in how easily they get angry (their anger threshold), as well as how comfortable they are with feeling angry. Some people are always getting angry while others seldom feel angry. Some people are very aware of their anger, while others fail to recognize anger when it occurs. Some experts suggest that the average adult gets angry about once a day and annoyed or peeved about three times a day. Other anger management experts suggest that getting angry fifteen times a day is more likely a realistic average. Regardless of how often we actually experience anger, it is a common and unavoidable emotion.
Anger can be constructive or destructive. When well managed, anger or annoyance has very few detrimental health or interpersonal consequences. At its roots, anger is a signal to you that something in your environment isn’t right. It captures your attention and motivates you to take action to correct that wrong thing. How you end up handling the anger signal has very important consequences for your overall health and welfare, however. When you express anger, your actions trigger others to become defensive and angry too. Blood pressures raises and stress hormones flow. Violence can ensue. You may develop a reputation as a dangerous ‘loose cannon’ whom no one wants to be around.
Out of control anger alienates friends, co-workers and family members. It also has a clear relationship with health problems and early mortality. Hostile, aggressive anger not only increases your risk for an early death, but also your risk for social isolation, which itself is a major risk factor for serious illness and death. These are but two of many reasons why learning to properly manage anger is a good idea.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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