5 Tactics That Empower You to Master Your Anger

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5 Tactics That Empower You to Master Your Anger

There Can Be Only One Winner Between Your Anger and You

By Brent Flory

I’m a pretty emotional guy. I also grew up watching Walker, Texas Ranger. These two seemingly random facts combine to explain how I used to mentally cope with angry people when I worked in customer service.

If I was being berated by a customer, I would appear to listen intently, nod, and imagine myself giving them Chuck Norris’ classic spinning heel kick. Then I would reenter reality, fix the problem, and move on with my day.

There was just one problem: if someone really upset me, the spinning heel kick fantasy didn’t make me feel better for long. I would spend the rest of the day thinking about that person. My daydreams would alternate between yelling back at them, coming up with the perfectly witty response, or perfecting my spinning heel kick.

Are you finding your attempts to cope with anger about as effective as mine in the past? I wrote last week about how our anger can build into uncontrollable rage. Attempting to ignore or stifle our anger doesn’t work. Fantasizing about revenge, ruminating over what happened, and fiercely expressing your anger end up increasing it instead of reducing it.

Tips On How to Cope With Anger

???????????????????????????????????????????When you shake a bottle of soda, even slowly, the pressure will build and build within it. If you take the cap off quickly, the soda will explode everywhere. We work the same way. If we try to ignore our emotions, they will build within us until we eventually explode. In respect to anger, this explosion results far too often in disaster.

When something or someone upsets you, you have to learn how to relieve the pressure gradually in healthy ways.

Here are some of the ways to cope with situations that evoke anger.

1. Identify what you are feeling as anger.

This first point may seem simplistic, but if you tend to avoid or fear your emotions, you may struggle to identify your feelings. Being able to say, “I am feeling angry right now,” is important for several reasons.

  • Knowledge is power. You have to know what you are dealing with in order to do anything about it. Understanding accurately what is happening within you is a crucial step.
  • It makes you responsible to make a change. Anger assigns blame onto others. Let me be clear, being responsible for your anger doesn’t justify how someone may have wounded you. But if you want to learn how to process your anger in a productive, healthy way, you must take responsibility for it.

2. Deal with your anger before it builds.

In the past I’ve written about how the way our bodies cope with anger is similar to the process of a skyscraper being built. When you are having a difficult day, your anger stacks on top of itself, and can get to the point where a seemingly minor transgression can send you spinning into outrage.

A key aspect of taking responsibility for your anger is choosing to not allow it to build. This means my aforementioned Walker, Texas Ranger strategy is not a healthy option. Fantasizing, ruminating, and other such techniques that keep you replaying the offending event through your mind time and time again don’t calm you down, they make you angrier.

3. Find healthier ways to feel empowered.

Yoda: But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the force, are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever it will dominate your destiny…

Luke: …Is the dark side stronger?

Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

As Yoda points out, anger is quicker, easier, and seductive. It feels very empowering, which is a great part of its allure. Again, anger is not necessarily a bad thing. But working through anger properly is very challenging.

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” —Aristotle

One of the best ways to feel empowered in relationships without losing control of your anger is learning to use assertive language. Assertive language enables you to share your feelings and needs while maintaining your composure.

Assertive statements:

  • Use I statements (“I feel hurt when…”)
  • Address behaviors (“I feel hurt when you don’t take out the trash.”)
  • Are specific about what they want (“I would really appreciate it if in the future you would take out the trash when it is full.”)

Assertive language does not:

  • Use you statements (“You always…”)
  • Attack the person’s character (“You always screw everything up.”)
  • Threaten (“If you don’t grow up, I will leave you.”)
  • Criticize without giving ways to improve (“You can’t you get anything right.”)

4. Walk it off.

Going for a walk is a helpful in coping with anger in several ways. Walking allows you to:

  • Separate you from the angering situation so you can begin to cool down, emotionally and physically.
  • Create space to process how the situation is affecting you. *Consider how you should respond to the person who has upset you.

5. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

One of the most crucial skills to acquire in mastering anger is the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes. When you are wounded by someone else, your instinctive reaction is to think that they hurt you on purpose.

Instead of immediately reacting, taking a moment to pause and consider, “I wonder what they were thinking when they said that,” could be the difference between keeping and losing a meaningful relationship.

Nothing will destroy your life more quickly than uncontrolled anger. You must take responsibility for it and learn how to cope with it well. If you choose not to, it will take apart your career and family. However, with hard work and practice, you can gain mastery over it. And leave the spinning heel kicks to my favorite ‘90s TV show.

Miscarriages Are Not As Rare As People Think

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Most Americans think miscarriage is rare. Most Americans are wrong.

By Sarah Kliff

sad motherMost Americans hugely underestimate the frequency of miscarriage. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to speak openly about the topic could help change that misperception.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, used a pregnancy announcement Friday to share information about her three miscarriages as they’ve tried to conceive in recent years.

Their experience with miscarriage is not a rare one. The best data available suggests that miscarriage occurs in 15 percent of all known pregnancies.

Researchers don’t always understand the cause of miscarriage. They do think it often occurs when an embryo has an abnormal number of chromosomes, essentially too much or too little genetic material. The mother’s health condition – whether she has an infection, for example — could also play a role.

Most Americans underestimate both the frequency of miscarriage as well as the cause. In a survey published earlier this year, researchers at Montefiore Medical Center in New York found that 55 percent of American adults think miscarriage happens in “fewer than 6 percent of all pregnancies.”

Survey respondents were asked to choose possible causes of miscarriage; 76 percent thought a miscarriage could be caused by lifting a heavy object (research disagrees), and 64 percent said previous use of oral contraceptives could play a role (it doesn’t — Pill users actually have lower rates of miscarriage).

In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg talked about the loneliness of experiencing a miscarriage. “Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you’re defective or did something to cause this,” he wrote. “So you struggle on your own.”

Women who have experienced miscarriage tend to feel the same: When the Montefiore researchers looked just at respondents who had miscarried, they found that 40 percent felt ashamed about the experience and 47 percent felt guilty.

There’s the chance that Zuckerberg and Chan’s disclosure could help change this: 28 percent of the women who miscarried said, in the same survey, that “public disclosures of miscarriages by celebrities and public figures helped with feelings of isolation.” Zuckerberg and Chan’s decision to open up about miscarriage could actually help kick off a new conversation.


If you are struggling with the grief, depression, or anxiety related to miscarriage, please contact CornerStone Family Services to set up an appointment with a counselor or coach who can help in the midst of your pain.

Marriage in the Winter

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winter tree

Marriage where conflicts seem to outnumber the joys can feel like walking without a coat in the biting winter wind.

In response, we may find ourselves hunkering down wrapping ourselves into ourselves and distancing ourselves from our spouse. We do this out of a sense of self-preservation. We want to avoid or minimize what we perceive to be the biting words or actions. We hold onto ourselves, assume and assert our rights and react against the wrongs of our spouse.

While there is certainly a place for making sure that we have healthy self-care, an ongoing pattern of focusing on the “wrongs” of our spouse can, over time, actually seem to increase the winter wind speed, making the marriage even more miserable to our perception.

Leslie Vernick, in her book “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong,” offers this helpful advice to decrease the wind chill:

Instead of looking at what our spouse is doing that is upsetting, hurtful, or wrong to us, we must begin by redirecting our attention towards what our spouse’s wrongs reveal in us. God may be using his or her imperfections, differences, weaknesses, and sins to teach us valuable lessons on how to forgive, how to forbear, how to have self-control, how to speak the truth in love, and how to love our enemies. Jeanne Guyon compares this exposing process to a tree being stripped of its leaves in preparation for winter. She says: “The tree is no longer beautiful in its surface appearance. But has the tree actually changed? Not at all. Everything is exactly as it was before. Everything is as it has always been! It is just that the leaves are no longer there to hide what is real. The beauty of the outward life of the leaves had only hidden what had always been present.” She goes on to say: “We can each look so beautiful…until life disappears! Then, no matter who, the Christian is revealed as full of defects. As the Lord works on you to produce purification, you will appear stripped of all your virtues! But, in the tree, there is life inside; and, as the tree, you are not actually becoming worse, you are simply seeing yourself for what you really are!” 


…Often we are not even aware of the imperfections in our heart until we are put in the fire of a difficult marriage and the dross rises to the surface. During this time, I believe God’s intention for you is to examine your own responses to your spouse’s wrongdoing. God may use the very actions of your spouse that you find so annoying or troubling to reveal the contents of your heart to you so that you can grow and change. That is part of the purifying and refining process. 


As we begin to take a look at what our spouse’s wrongs reveal in us, a jumble of emotions, thoughts, expectations, and personal sins is likely to surface. Honesty about this is necessary for those of us who want to clearly see what or who we rely on for our happiness, security, and well-being. Is it God? Or is our welfare more dependent upon getting what we want? (pp 34-37)

If you are in the midst of a winter season in your marriage and would like some help, please contact CornerStone Family Services at 614-459-3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.

Notable Song: “I’ll Keep On”

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I’ll Keep On by Road in fieldNF is a song that speaks to the soul of one who is feeling tired.

The song not only empathizes with the exhaustion that we all feel at times in life, it also offers up insight and a challenge to stop trying to do life on our own – many times one of the big reasons we remain in an unpleasant state.

Give the song a listen in the youtube video below. You can find the lyrics here.

Call CornerStone Family Services at 614.459.3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches, if you are feeling exhausted and tired.  If you make the call, you will have someone here for you to walk with you in the midst of your struggles.

4 Magic Words for Your Next Argument

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4 Magic Words for Your Next Argument

By Erik Raymond

Conflict seems to be as common to human life as breathing. Whether in marriages, families, friendships, the church, or social settings—we have conflict. My concern is not so much how to prevent it, but how to mitigate its storm and lessen its wounding.

The Bible asks and answers a very appropriate question:

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.” (James 4:1-2)


Conflict in coupleThe primary source of our conflict is within us. We crave something often times from someone. When we do not get it then we get very upset. Our passions or desires are at war within us. We are not getting what we want (usually under the headings of honor, comfort, or control) so we lash out. We then try to manipulate the other person actively by doing things like yelling or even physical aggression or we do it passively by ignoring them with the silent treatment. Whatever extreme we are on we can be sure that it is our unmet cravings of our heart that are fueling this conflict.

What makes matters worse is the fact that the person(s) we are arguing with are also sinners. They have the same heart issues and are doing the same things. What’s more, sometimes they mistreat you in the argument. This brings a sense of mistreatment that makes you feel justified in your mistreatment of them—which has the same effect on the other person. This ensures that the conversation gets locked into a veritable labyrinth of conflict.


Say and mean 4 words: I may be wrong.

This step of humility has a very high success rate because it does one thing right away: it fires our prestigious lawyers.

Fire Your Defense Attorney

In most arguments we retain the services of our own personal defense attorney. You know he is active when you keep on defending yourself (your character, your actions, your thoughts, everything). No matter what is said he yells, “OBJECTION!” You won’t even let the words settle into your ears before the defense attorney roars. This is another way of saying we don’t listen to the other person. Which, in addition to being extremely rude, is very prideful.

Fire Your Prosecuting Attorney

Sometimes, however, there is additional help retained. In the midst of defending ourselves we can switch, on a dime, to begin prosecuting the other. “Well, you are very good at pointing out my faults, but I have noticed that you….” When fueled by the unmet desires and cravings for self, this attorney is a shark. He goes after stuff that happened years ago, irrelevant items, subjective observations, as well as everything and anything he can get his hands on. He will do anything to bury the other person and exonerate himself.

However, if we just open the window to the possibility that we might be wrong, both of these guys are out of work for a time.


In every argument at least one person is being selfish like James 4 says; but, more than likely, both are. The way to cut through selfishness is humility. Say the four (magic) words: “I may be wrong” and begin trying to understand what the other person is actually saying.

One more note. I’ve been arguing now for nearly 40 years. I’ve gotten pretty good at it with all the practice. If I were to calculate what percentage I have been wrong in those disagreements I would guess it would be about 70% of the time. This may be low. For me, it just makes sense to say these words, “I may be wrong” because, I probably am! If you think about it, and are honest, this may be true for you also.

Behind every flare up is an inflated view of self. The only way out of this is to humble yourself. Saying these four magic words are a step in the right direction: “I may be wrong.”

Rudeness is Contagious

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Rudeness Is Contagious

By Shaunacy Ferro

Blonde woman screamingBeing a jerk isn’t just destructive to everyone around you. It’s destructive to everyone that has to interact with anyone you interact with. In the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers from the University of Florida argue that rudeness spreads like the common cold. In short, germs of rudeness are everywhere, and it’s as easy to catch other people’s negativity as it is to catch the sniffles.

The first of three tests measured how people acted in negotiations in a graduate course. People who perceived their first negotiation partner to be rude then turned around and acted more rudely to their next partner.

In other test, 47 undergrads were brought into the lab, ostensibly to complete a decision-making task. One “participant,” planted by the investigators, showed up late. In one condition, the researcher leading the session reacted rudely, telling the fake student to get out immediately. In the other, the researcher calmly asked her to email to find a new time to complete the task. People who participated in the rudeness condition were quicker at identifying words associated with rudeness (like tactless or intrude) in the computer task than people who didn’t witness a rude interaction.

In the last test, 147 students played the role of an employee at a local bookstore in an online task. After watching a video of an interaction between two employees, they were asked to respond to customer emails, some of which were rude, some neutral, and some aggressive in tone. Witnessing rudeness made the students more likely to respond in a hostile way to the rude email.

All these results suggest that rudeness can be contagious, and that negative interactions color subsequent behavior toward other people. Now, all of these situations played out with students in management courses who participated in simulated lab interactions, so the results might not translate evenly to how people act in their offices or communities. But it’s never a bad time to remind yourself: Don’t be [a jerk].


If you would like to learn how to manage your thoughts and emotions and/or deal effectively with rudeness around you, please give CornerStone Family Services a call at 614.459.3003 to set up an appointment with one of our counselors or coaches.


Really, a Therapist? Why and When You Should See One…

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Really, a Therapist? Why and When You Should See One…

By Bill Lokey

I don’t know what you think about therapists or have thought about people who go see them but it may be that for some reason you are considering finding one for yourself now. If so, here are some considerations for helping you choose a therapist. I hope this will be helpful.

First of all you may be asking: Why do I need a therapist? “I’m not that crazy about people telling me what to do in the first place and now I am going to pay someone to do that?”

plant in handsMy analogy, as a guy, is like asking whether I need a lawn edger or a tiller; do I just want my lawn to look neater or do I want to plant a garden? A therapist is not usually going to be giving you advice but helping you uncover your heart so that you can discover your own. I have found that being truly filled comes not from simply eating but from discovering what you are really hungry for, what your heart desires, and then being satiated with that. Rewriting my story takes looking into the ways I have chosen to “survive” my pain so I can walk with more trust in the God who doesn’t just make all new things, but makes all things new. A good therapist helps us do just that. What I like best is the approach we use at Onsite, which is to participate in a 4–6 day therapy intensive to help a person discover their core wound and experience healing. Then follow up with a therapist to keep making regular progress.

One of the best ways to find a good therapist is to ask someone you trust if they have had a good experience with one (i.e. friend, family doctor, minister). If not, then consider these things in your search:

  1. Be willing to interview a therapist before you decide on him/her. Tell them that your first meeting is to help you determine if they are a good fit with you.
  2. Can you feel safe with this person? Is he/she judgmental & shaming or will he/she allow you the freedom to explore your feelings and thoughts.
  3. Will she/he give you honest feedback about how they see you? If they will do this in a non-shaming, caring way it can be very helpful.
  4. A licensed therapist with at least several years of experience is important.
  5. Does he/she see many other clients with similar concerns? You want to see a therapist who has successful experience working with similar issues as yours.
  6. You don’t want to choose someone with whom you already have a personal relationship. It’s generally unethical for the therapist and it usually ends badly.
  7. Have they done their own therapy work? I believe a therapist can only guide someone as far as they have gone themselves. Ask them; really it’s okay to do so.
  8. Does he/she share your spiritual beliefs and values or will your beliefs be honored if they are not the same?
  9. Be ready and be willing to struggle with your process. Stepping into your own story honestly can involve pain but it leads toward freedom.

There is a wonderful saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” If you find yourself wanting to grow and to “see” with new eyes, a good therapist can serve as a productive guide. I wish you well in your journey.