More Techniques for Managing Anger

Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing
Abdominal breathing is one of the best ways to ease the stress of anger. Most people breathe through their chests (probably an evolutionary behaviour to take in more oxygen when the world was more dangerous millennia ago) so they have to learn abdominal breathing. It can take up to three months of daily practice to master this. Ten minutes practice per day is sufficient. This routine should be rigorously followed and it is equally good for anxiety and panic attacks. The usual way is to sit in a chair, put a book on your abdomen and attempt to lift the book with each breath. You breathe in through your nose and your abdomen expands and rises the book, then you breathe out and your abdomen falls. Initially when you are practising you will find that your chest expands and your abdomen stubbornly refuses to rise. Don’t be discouraged, because with constant practice you will master this way of breathing. Gradually only your abdomen will expand and your chest will not move. When you have mastered this, it will become your normal way of breathing and you can easily slip into deep breathing when the occasion demands. Abdominal breathing calms your body and brings your mind and body together. It is a technique that works whether you like it or not. It is a technique I learned over fifty years ago, and I know that you can master it, if you persevere.

The Four Steps and the Golden Rules of Mike Fisher
Mike Fisher outlines four steps and some ‘golden’ rules that are easy to implement, if you accept responsibility for how you vent your anger. The first step is an awareness of the primary source of your anger – perhaps unmet needs. This second step is about taking responsibility for yourself and acquiring key communications skills such as attentive listening, hearing and understanding rather than trying to win an argument. The third step is to become the external observer, seeing the big picture, and recognising what you are responsible for in a particular conflict. The final step is to expect a reaction from others who might wish to see you remain as you are, and to be aware of your own resistance to change. His ‘golden’ rules include having empathy for the other person, looking at the other’s point of view, respecting the opinions of others, having anger buddies and a support network, being aware of internalised shame and lowering your expectations of others. These are valuable suggestions and will certainly work with healthy anger. Only counselling and an exploration of the wounds of childhood will work with core or toxic anger.

Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018

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