Anger and Anger Control – An RET Example

Anger and Anger Control – An RET Example

ANGER  CONTROL  OR  ANGER  AVOIDANCE ?

Example

A man offers to help his girlfriend wash the dishes.  She declines his offer.  He gets angry.

Question:    How do you do that? [ exploring his “strategy” for anger ]

Answer:    Well, she doesn’t want my help! [ as if that were the cause of his anger ]

Comment:    Right, she probably doesn’t want your help.  That is probably why she turned you down.  But that is just an observation about how things are; and observations (e.g., about the way things are) are  just observations; and observations, even if correct, won’t make you angry.

Question:    So – how do you make yourself angry about the fact that she doesn’t want your help?

Answer:    My way isn’t her way!

Comment:    Maybe you are right; maybe your way isn’t her way.  But even if your way isn’t her way, that won’t make you angry.

Question:    The question still is, “How do you make yourself angry about the fact that your way isn’t her way?”

Answer:    In her opinion, my way is wrong!

Comment:    Maybe that’s true.  Maybe she thinks that her way is right and your way is wrong; but even if that is what she thinks, that won’t make you angry.

Question:    So – how do you make yourself angry about the fact that your way isn’t her way?

Answer:    I’ll never be able to do it the way she does!

Comment:    Maybe not.  Maybe you never will be able to do it the way she does, but that won’t make you angry.

Question:    So –  how do you make yourself angry about never being able to do it the way she does?

Answer:    Well, what’s wrong with my way?

Comment:    Probably nothing, but even if there is something wrong with your way, or even if she thinks that there is something wrong with it, that won’t make you angry.

Question:    So –  how do you make yourself angry about that?

Answer:    She’s criticizing me!

Comment:    Maybe, maybe not; but even if she were criticizing you, that won’t make you angry.

Question:    So — how do you make yourself angry about your feeling that she is criticizing you?

Answer:    I’ll never be able to please her!

Comment:    Even if it were true that you will never be able to please her, that won’t make you angry.

Question:    So – how do you make yourself angry about not being able to please her?

Answer:    Well, I’m not adequate to do the job!

Comment:    Whether or not you are adequate to the job, that won’t make you angry.

Question:    So – how do you make yourself angry about not being adequate to do the job?

Answer:     Well, it’s just not fair!

or

Answer:     That’s not the way it’s supposed to be!

Comment:    Now, that is the kind of evaluative self-talk that is likely to make you angry.  Now you have moved beyond observation to evaluation or judgement.  And when you start to judge the rightness or wrongness of the situation, when you start to tell yourself that “I am not being treated fairly,” or “That’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” you will start to make yourself angry.

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