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Coach shares tips for anger management

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 20, 2010

The Secret Side of Anger

Placing blame on others for our actions and feelings is a common misconception of where the blame should really be, according to Janet Pfeiffer, author, The Secret Side of Anger (Tate Publishing and Enterprises, LLC, $12.99). She believes that taking responsibility for our own feelings and how we deal with them is empowering and the best approach and that finding inner peace is the ultimate goal.

“Most of us believe that other people or situations have the ability to make us angry. This is a big misconception,” said Pfeiffer. In her book she shares the wisdom about anger she has acquired over the years through personal situations and professional experiences coaching others.

Mixed in with jokes, personal and professional anecdotes and occasional references to God, Pfeiffer presents readers with tips on reducing anger that she says have made her personal and professional life better. In the 190-page book Pfeiffer explains that: thoughts lead to feelings and feelings are our choice; it is up to each person to choose the thoughts and feelings he or she has and how to deal with them; and it is up to each individual to take responsibility for his or her life.

“No individual or event has the power to make you mad. Anger is actually a choice, one that occurs depending on that person’s perception (thought). What we choose to think about an experience we’re having or the person we’re involved with determines how we feel. For instance, if someone criticizes you, you can think ‘She’s so mean!’ Or, you can choose, ‘How unfortunate someone could be so insensitive.’ The former evokes anger, the latter, sadness. The truth behind her actions matters little. You only need to concern yourself with how you choose to perceive her and allow her behavior to affect you.”

Pfeiffer, described in promotional materials as a certified violence counselor and motivational speaker, believes unresolved anger leads to resentment and bitterness and can damage a person’s relationships, health, career, and happiness. She is convinced that feeling anger is not in and of itself bad. What’s important is how people handle the feeling and what they do about it, she says in the book.

She believes that only if mishandled in a destructive or violent way does anger turn negative. She asserts that anger is an important and useful emotion that people can take advantage of to change their lives. An example of positive results that may follow anger is when someone witnesses an injustice in society which fuels his or her anger and eventually leads to the creation of new laws.

Anger, by definition, she says, is a feeling of distress born of feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. When people feel victimized it is because they feel others are controlling them but in reality power and control come from within. Regaining our personal power eliminates feelings of helplessness and anger. Others no longer have the ability to push our buttons and make us mad, she says.

Her tips on reducing anger include: Put everything into perspective. Ask yourself if the situation is worth getting upset about. If not, let it go. If it is important, identify what needs to change and create a plan to accomplish that. Switch your focus (thought) from the problem (negative) to the solution (positive). The moment you feel anger well up inside you, remember SWaT: Stop, Walk and Talk. Stop what you are doing. This prevents the situation from escalating. Next, Walk away. Creating distance allows you to calm down and cool off. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Third: Talk yourself calm. Discuss your feelings and situation with a neutral party, seeking deeper understanding and guidance. If no one is available, talk to yourself. Repeat calming statements such as “I am fine. I am calm. I can handle this is an intelligent and rational manner.” Create a “Peace Plan”: daily activities to engage in that will naturally reduce your levels of anger. Each of these naturally replaces stress and anger with feelings of peace and serenity. Even a simple act such as deep breathing or smiling will help alleviate anger, she believes.

Pfeiffer, president and chief executive officer, Pfeiffer Power Seminars, LLC, is a motivational speaker, an instructor at a battered women’s shelter, personal coach, columnist, and founder of The Antidote to Anger support group.

Click here to buy The Secret Side of Anger