Anger Chart - Healthy Process for dealing with Strong Emotions

In our chapter titled The Intelligence of Emotions, it features an Anger Chart that shows a healthy process for dealing with strong emotions. While doing the radio show and discussing anger and the chart, many people called asking for a copy.

Many people find themselves feeling very intense emotions while parenting their children. Parenting can certainly raise the stress levels to an all-time high. What Dr. Miller and I talk about in this chapter is the importance of paying attention to underlying feelings. Those feelings are there to tell you what needs aren't being met. If you can catch them and try to meet some of those needs, there is a much greater chance of controlling behavior when the strong emotions come up.

Our chart uses the word anger as an acronym and encourages people to pay attention to the early warning signs. When you notice yourself going there, get out, gear down, and don't deal with issues until you have reached the voice of reason!

Steps to Awareness:

  • A: Attend
    Attend to your early signals of anger. What do you feel in your body? How do you behave? You can catch anger before it escalates. When you increase your awareness of the early signals, you can create choices around your behavior.
  • N: Negotiate
    Negotiate with those around you about your anger, not about specific issues. Choose distance and time. Discuss this strong emotion with your family. Come up with a signal that means you need time out: "Give me five," "Grumpy guy alert," "Bag lady alert." Or negotiate with yourself and just choose distance until you have calmed down. Even turning your back and breathing can be effective.
  • G: Gear Down
    Gear down from behaviors to exploring feelings, and identify them if you can. Pay attention to your own triggering thoughts that may provoke anger.
    • G = Get alone
    • E = Express your emotions
    • A = Analyze your thoughts
    • R = Re-examine your beliefs
  • This process can take time. Articulate your feelings. Ask yourself whether they are old or new. Use your feelings to explore what your needs are. Catch negative trigger thoughts and replace them with healing ones.
  • E: Express
    Express your feelings and needs assertively.
    When you _____, I feel _____ because ______. I want/would like you to _________.
  • R: Resolve
    Resolve issues if possible. It may be as simple as making a positive request. It may mean engaging in conflict resolution. It may mean resolving the issue within yourself. Resolving conflict stops the circular motion of old issues and patterns from constantly recurring.

Resolution doesn't have to be complicated, but it can't exist without the preceding steps. Often we need to feel anger to know there is a boundary that needs to be addressed.

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