Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Book Review - "The Anger Trap: Free Yourself from the Frustrations that Sabotage Your Life"

Since our social media focus this month is "Anger & How to Manage It", we will be reviewing Dr. Les Carter's "The Anger Trap: Free Yourself from the Frustrations that Sabotage Your Life". This book review was written by one of our counselors, Dwight Wilson. Dwight works out of our Sheffield, Hartselle, & Athens locations, and we are blessed to have him as part of our Pathways counseling staff. If you would like to find out more about Dwight, click here.

It is easy to identify rage in people who lose their temper at traffic jams, unruly children, unresponsive coworkers, and unrealistic bosses.  But we may not recognize more subtle manifestations of anger, such as being uncomfortable with loose ends, acting impatiently, or being overly critical.  That is anger, also.  And, as is so often the case, angry folks don’t seem to realize that the behavior causing them problems at home or at work actually stems from unrecognized and unresolved pain and emotional injuries from the past.  Is all this negative emotion inevitable, or are there choices about how to respond—choices that can improve personal relationships as well as emotional health?
The Anger Trap is a landmark book that strips away the myths and misconceptions about anger and reveals how you can learn to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy anger so that you may choose, or help someone else to choose a better, more spiritually enlightened path.  The Anger Trap examines the root causes of anger and can help you realize your patterns and break the destructive cycles of criticism, frustration, and irritation that hurt you and others around you.  Drawing insight from timeless spiritual wisdom as well as cutting-edge research, Dr. Carter offers practical techniques to free you from anger, its hidden insecurities, fears, and selfishness, and thereby improve the quality of your home and workplace life.
The book clearly illustrates how the change process works and it is filled with real-life examples of the ways people have come to terms with their anger by applying the concepts Dr. Carter outlines.

What do I find most helpful about this book?
This book has given me a new understanding of anger, its origin, and how it is a construct of one’s past.  It enables me to have more compassion with clients who are dealing with appears to be uncontrollable anger.  It has revealed the need for patience with others, as well as, their need for encouragement that this is not an insurmountable obstacle that cannot be overcome.

What do clients find most helpful about this book?
Clients discover for the first time that they can overcome the fear, pain, insecurity, control of others, and find freedom from this curse that has been seemingly a monster that has hovered over them all of their life.  They are able to find release from an ever-present emotion that keeps them from becoming the person they aspire to be.  They are finally able to give up the thing that destroys most normal relationships with friends, family, and coworkers.  The find that they can become comfortable with self and others without the continuous shadow stalking them.

Favorite Quotes: 
“Holding onto anger and bitterness makes as much sense as you drinking poison, hoping it will kill the other person.”
“Anger can be defined as the emotion of self-preservation.”
“Angry people are hurting, fragile people.”
“Though the anger may seemingly be a reaction to someone’s current lack of cooperation, it is also a response that can be traced to pain and rejection in key relationships from years gone by.”
“Those who are caught in the anger trap have not learned to approach anger constructively.”

If you are interested in purchasing this book, click here

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Slow to Anger

Q. I find myself getting angry pretty quickly.  I want to really work on this and to follow James 1:19 that says, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."  Any suggestions as to how I become slow to anger?

A. What a great goal to be striving for!  As believers, we are to work on our anger and keep it in check.  It sounds like you really want to improve this area of your life.  Acknowledging this is the first step to success in dealing with your anger.

The first thing you should do is look at your overall stress level.  When you find yourself stressed out, you will be much more likely to grow agitated and will have less patience for people or situations. Scripture says, "Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil." Psalm 37:8.  You may need to evaluate what is going on in your life and where your stress might be originating from.  The anger you are experiencing might be displaced anger.  It might be only once you understand where your anger is coming from that you are able to control it appropriately.  Have heard the scenario before that dad comes home after a terrible day at work and kicks the dog?  In that scenario, dad has displaced anger and taken it out on the poor dog.  Make sure you are not taking out anger and frustrations on others and making them your proverbial dog. If you are interested in learning more about stress, click here for a past article on stress inventories

Secondly, you must look at replacing your reactionary responses with some proactive coping skills  The Word says, "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." Psalm 4:4.  It is not realistic to believe that you will not ever be angry.  Rather, it is what you do with your anger that matters.  Check out this list below of somethings you can do to help you better cope with your anger:
  • take a time out
  • count to ten
  • exercise
  • think about your response before you speak
  • think about possible solutions rather than focusing on the problem
  • deep breathing 
  • journal your feelings
  • progressive muscle relaxation (click here for example)
  • art
  • praying
  • meditating on scripture
Last, rely on God's word and God's people.  James 1:20 says, "For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."  Focus on what Scriptures says that God does want for your life.  Spend time mediating on the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.  Also, surround yourself with people that are calming to you.  Share your struggle with anger with your friends as well.  Ask them to hold you accountable to reacting and responding differently.  Ask them to pray for you as well.  Without the help of the Holy Spirit, getting our anger under control could be next to impossible.  The Lord can absolutely grant you the serenity to cultivate the patience you need in your life. 

Again, know that you are well on your way to working on your anger.  Seeing that you have a struggle and verbalizing that you would like to improve in this area is half the battle.  Now purpose in your mind that you want to change and begin to employ some of the strategies above.  Good luck!  
*This column is not intended to substitute for an actual session with a licensed counselor.
If you have a question you would like to ask, EMAIL or leave a comment. We would love to answer one of your questions.