I interviewed Dr. Golden a few weeks ago, prior to the events that happened this past week in our country that have made so many of us angry. I make no attempt to draw correlations between what I learned from Dr. Golden’s book, Overcoming Destructive Anger: Strategies That Work, but I can tell you that anyone can benefit from his expertise and advice, especially as we try to make sense of the recent news.
For starters, Golden explains that not all anger is destructive. In fact, as part of the brain’s “#flight-or-#fight response,” anger can be helpful for our survival as humans. He says it also helps us to stand up for injustices. However, the only way to effect change with our anger, says Dr. Golden, is by cultivating healthy anger to achieve what we want and need. This idea of “healthy anger” allows for positive results, such as: a better understanding of our values, deeper compassion for others, improved resilience and effective, assertive communication.
On the other hand, destructive anger damages both our health and our closest relationships. The physical effects of this kind of anger can trigger heart attacks and is a contributor to bulimia, diabetes, traffic accidents and dangerous behavior (for #teens and adults).
When emotions dominate, says Golden, we resort to “child logic.” This way of thinking is rooted in unrealistic expectations, or a childlike way of believing there are threats everywhere. Despite the name, it has little to do with intelligence or even age. This form of reasoning dominates the logical brain.
As you’ll hear if you’re able to tune in to the broadcast (I will be posting the podcast on this web site), Dr. Golden and I discussed the mother-infant relationship and how that dynamic plays a crucial role in our ability to manage emotions as adults. Dr. Golden also highlighted the importance of gaining self-awareness, taking responsibility for our actions and the brain’s ability to break the anger cycle through its “neuroplasticity,” a fundamental concept of this book that asserts the brain can form new neural pathways/ways of thinking. He touched upon both neuroscience and Eastern philosophies, again drawing on the importance of making a mind-body connection that improves this entire process.
Dr. Golden recommends the following:
- Become a Better Parent to Yourself: Be compassionate to not only others, but especially ourselves.
- Involve Your Body: With exercises such as muscle relaxation and visualization we can identify and diffuse tension.
- Involve Your Mind: Take an “emotional pulse” several times a day.
- Understand Anger In All Its Complexity: There’s more to rage than a trigger and an outburst. Keep an “anger log.”
- Practice Pausing: Rage is a pattern of reacting quickly, so form a new habit by hitting the pause button.
- Forgive Others and Yourself: This is a process, much like grief.
- Choose Compassion: We can develop empathy for others by visualizing their childhood and consider their “backstory.”
- Tailor Communication to the Situation: To deal with conflict, we must communicate assertively, but may need to focus on specific behaviors at work, home or school.
If you or someone you know has problems with irrational anger, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Dr. Golden’s book or listen to this broadcast. You can learn more about Dr. Golden and his work at http://www.angermanagementeducation.com/.