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  • Why we get angry and depressed

    Why We Get Angry

    We get angry when our unrealistic demands are not met. When things are not going the way, we think they should. And, until our demands are met, we usually stay stuck in our anger for long periods of time.

    In our minds, the demands sound like “shoulds” and “musts.” For example, “I must always be perfect”, “The world must treat me fairly,” “I should be entitled to do whatever I want, to other people despite the consequences.”

    When events happen that we are not expecting, we become angry or full of rage. These feelings then lead to attacking, defending, or retreating. We may even hurt ourselves by losing sleep, overeating, bodily aches and pains, or addictive behavior.

    Unmet desires tend to lead to less intense stress, such as disappointment, sadness, irritation, frustration, etc. Restate your demand as a wish or desire and you will experience less stress, and in turn be able to have a more appropriate response.

    Another way to think about a situation is to play the tape out of the last time you reacted this way and assess the consequences. A significant part of anger results from our being unwilling to face reality about ourselves, other people, and the world at large. In other words, we continue to be upset about not being perfect, others don’t care for us, the world isn’t fair, not having enough money and people who continue their bad habits in public. Our view of a negative world is in itself depressing us.

    When we become angry, we demand things must be different than they are. To lessen the anger’s intensity, it would serve us better to give up our demands, acknowledge our desires, and set our expectations a little bit lower in line with reality. When we remain calm, we can make the most out of any difficult situation.

    (Excerpted from REBT Resource Book for Practitioners. ©2000, Albert Ellis Institute.

    Methods for Managing Anger

    · Realize you create your own anger

    · Dispute irrational beliefs, demands and unrealistic expectations of others

    · Judge behaviors, not people

    · Give people the benefit of the doubt

    · Accept your anger as normal. Pledge to work on reducing intensity and frequency. Accept yourself for being human.

    · Practice radical acceptance. Acceptance of reality within body, mind, and soul. This does not mean approval. It means it’s not worth carrying around resentments over something that may be meaningless in a few weeks or months.

    · Use “I” statements to become more assertive, rather than angry or aggressive.

    Use this formula:

    o When you (come home late and don’t call)

    o I feel (scared, disrespected, angry)

    o And in the future (I would appreciate it if you would call and let me know if you will be late).

    o And if you don’t (I will not leave dinner out for you any longer).

    · Play the tape out. Say to yourself, last time I got angry I ended up punching a hole in the wall or getting into a physical fight. Is it really worth it, now, to risk having this happen again, or can I stay calm and be assertive rather than aggressive?

    · Reward yourself for acting less angrily.

    · Write out behavioral contracts with loved ones and pledge to eliminate hostility.

    · Use humor to defuse situations without being sarcastic and hostile. Lighten up and don’t take life so seriously.

    (Excerpted from REBT Resource Book for Practitioners. ©2000, Albert Ellis Institute.

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