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Change Your Inner Conversations to Control Your Anger
By Dr. Tony Fiore
Every Holiday season Vicki found herself angry and silently seething at her older sister, Susie, and mother as they were merrily chatting about Susie's successful life.
Thanksgiving was no exception. Vicki had to sit stoically while Mom praised Susie's new house, her recent promotion at work and how well the grandchildren were doing. Not once did their mother or Susie ask about Vicki's life in a way that sounded sincere to Vicki.
As a result, Vicki was feeling ignored. Sensing this, sister Susie tried to make contact with Vicki by inviting her to her daughter's upcoming graduation at which she would be giving the Valedictorian address.
This invitation put Vicki in internal turmoil. While she wanted to be part of the family, there was this inner voice telling her things like: "Sure, they talk to me when they want something! and "Why should I spend money on a gift when I'm not really part of the family anyhow? Besides, Susie didn't come to my daughter's graduation last year."
What We Think is What We Get
At this point, Vicki is gettng more upset and angry as she struggles with her inner conversation. "Why do they treat me this way? she is asking herself. "They should pay more attention to me. They never give me credit for anything."
If someone asked Vicki what was causing her anger, she - like most people - would say something like "It's my family they are impossible NOT to get mad at they constantly make me angry because of the way they act toward me."
Trigger and Responses
And, like most people, she would only be partially right. While her family members may serve as a TRIGGER for her angry feelings, it is the conversation she has with herself about her family that really causes distress and angst.
New self-messages (or thoughts) can make the difference. As human beings, we have the capacity to monitor our own thinking patterns - to think about what we are thinking about - and thus change our emotions.
Monitoring and changing internal conversations is an important tool for anger management any time of the year, but is critical around the holidays. Holidays encourage family members to interact with each other, sometimes re-igniting lifetime dynamics and painful issues.
Holiday Self-Help Messages
Break bad habits by choosing one, or more, tactics from the following list. But remember, it takes repetition to develop these new "thought skills:
About The Author
Dr. Tony Fiore is a So. California licensed psychologist, and anger management trainer. His company, The Anger Coach, provides anger and stress management programs, training and products to individuals, couples, and the workplace. Sign up for his free monthly newsletter "Taming The Anger Bee" at www.angercoach.com and receive two bonus reports.