How to Melt Anger and Boost Love

How to Melt Anger and Boost Love
Art Credit: Ishupragun. (Wikimedia, cc 3.0)

Do you have a recurring image of punching someone in the face? Do you see your family/friends/co-workers as plotting against you and trying to make your life miserable? If any of that resonates, you’re having the telltale signs of anger-based attitudes.

Physically wanting to strike out or viewing other people, things, or situations as enemies isn’t going to get you where you want to go. In fact, it could land you up in prison or equally worse, locked up in an emotional prison of being alone forever with biting anger as your only companion.

The following solutions cause anger impulses to melt. They’re love boosters, associated with love’s four core attitudes:

* obey what you know to be true for you,

* accept people and situations,

* appreciate and respect what is, and

* give selflessly.

Anger Attitudes                Solutions

  1. Blaming
Come back to yourself.
  1. Frustrated
Accept what is.
  1. Resigned
Abandon unfounded hopes.
  1. Pessimistic
Accentuate the positive.
  1. Judgmental
See unity beyond differences.
  1. Defensive
Apologize.
  1. Betrayed
Forgive others.
  1. Ungrateful
Offer “gratitudes.”
  1. Opinionated
Empathize.
10. Egotistic Give selflessly.
11. Meanspirited Deal with injustices and violations.

(Editor’s Note: In this article, we look at Attitudes #1, #5, #6, and #11)

#1. Attitude: Blaming (accusing, condemning, jealous)

Solution: Come back to yourself.

What You’re Experiencing:

  • Focus attention on others, accusing, condemning, gossiping, or envying them
  • Don’t look within and take responsibility for what’s happening
  • Find fault in other people and situations as a rule
  • “Out there” instead of “in here” in your heart

The Price You Pay:

  • Attack and find fault out there
  • Pointing fingers, deflect from taking responsibility for your part and yourself
  • Feeling alienated, separate, different, disconnected from others

How to Change:

  • Refocus on yourself when you notice your attention is on making “them” the problem
  • Ask yourself, “What’s the specific issue? What’s going on with me?” and investigate
  • In conflict with others, remember all parties share equal respon­sibility for social discord so don’t wait for others to make first move, look for how you can move closer and reach out, offering some appreciations or speaking up what’s true for you
  • When blaming, do some introspection, stick to incident at hand and ask yourself:
    • What is the specific?
    • What’s my part?
    • What’s true for me about this?
    • What do I need to say or do about this?
    • What can I do?
  • Ask yourself the same questions when you feel competitive, jealous, or envious

Power On:

My focus is myself.

My job is to take care of myself.

We’re all on our own paths.

When other people target their anger on you with teasing, accusing, competing, etc., don’t retaliate, don’t take it personally, or defend yourself, use truths such as:

What they’re saying has little to do with me.

They’re venting their emotions, and I am the target. They are “you-ing” me.

They’re upset and I’m okay. It’s not personal.

I’m fine.

My job is to take care of myself.

The Upside:

  • You feel more loving and connected to others
  • You are more honest, authentic, and powerful
  • You speak and act in line with your heart
  • You’re able to hear your intuition
  • It’s easier to cooperate and be on a team

#5. Attitude: Judgmental (critical, disapproving, prejudiced)

Suggestion: See unity beyond differences.

What You’re Experiencing:

  • Make enemies and create social chasms because you believe your personal opinions are universal givens, feel entitled to voice and impose your views on others
  • Attached to your own views, values, needs, wants
  • Affix blanket judgments and labels to what you don’t accept
  • Lump differences into categories of extreme polarities: you vs. me, fair vs. unfair, good vs. bad, win vs. lose, wrong vs. right
  • Think you know what’s best for others, angry when they don’t live up to expectations
  • Channel your anger toward entire groups of people who are dif­ferent from you
  • Make jokes and put-downs at others’ expense
  • Commit crimes (small or large) against minorities (of race, sex­ual preference, body type, age, religion, or anything else)
  • Believe and make others feel “lesser than” or wrong

The Price You Pay:

  • Thinking in black-and-white breeds a world of adversaries and disconnection
  • Feeling alienated, antagonistic, intolerant
  • Losing sight of the inspiration that differences can spark
  • Failing to see that other people’s needs, views, and values are as valid as your own

How to Change:

  • Accept diversity and differences as a reality
  • Emphasize what you have in common with others, seek to make the “other” a friend
  • When negative judgments dominate, acknowledge you feel angry, own it, and express it physically, then accept differences, look for the good
  • Put duct tape over your mouth and listen more with an open mind, put yourself in the other person’s shoes
  • As appropriate, reach out with a loving tone, offer help, or at least say something kind
  • Offer more appreciations and understanding
  • If you’re having trouble accepting divergent views and want to reject that person, recall an instance when your views were rejected by someone else
  • Mentally find something positive about everyone you encounter

Power On:

We’re all on our own paths.

Your viewpoints and needs are as important as mine.

We see things differently, and we’re still connected. We are different, and we are the same.

We are the same.

The Upside:

  • You feel more connected and find it easier to listen to others’ views with empathy, even when you don’t agree
  • You focus on similarities you share with others, finding common ground
  • You recognize that we’re all inextricably linked
  • You feel more love
  • You offer to be of service to others

#6. Attitude: Defensive (prideful, insistent, infallible)

Suggestion: Apologize.

 What You’re Experiencing:

  • Refuse to apologize, you get defensive or make excuses when you make a mistake
  • Suffer from unwillingness to take personal responsibility for your behavior
  • Give apologies accompanied by justifications (“I’m sorry, but...”), negating the impact of the apology
  • Struggle with pride, self-righteousness, need to maintain an air of infallibility

The Price You Pay:

  • Feeling terrified of being seen as weak, wrong, imperfect
  • Downplaying or deflecting errors because they put a dent in your fragile self-esteem
  • Feeling unsettled over unexpressed apologies
  • Feeling separate

How to Change:

  • Remember it’s never too late to apologize for a mistake
  • Search for what’s true for you about the specific event, apologize just for that. Try an approach like: “I’m sorry I didn’t call yes­terday to let you know that I couldn’t keep our dinner plans. I wouldn’t have liked it if you had done that to me,” or “I apologize for the flippant comment I made about your outfit. I regret I said what I did.”
  • Admit your part, acknowledge your best guess about the effect it had on other person, and talk about what you learned
  • Expressing regret verbally is only the first part; it’s equally important to listen to how your actions affected the other person
  • Don’t justify, explain, defend, minimize, or repeatedly voice regret
  • Listen with empathy and compassion to hear the other person’s anger, hurt, and fear, with your only motive being to understand and reconnect
  • How do you feel about what happened?
  • I want to understand where you’re coming from.
  • I hear what you’re saying, and I’m really sorry.

Power On:

I did the best I could.

We all make mistakes.

Life is for learning.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have done it differently.

The Upside:

  • You join humanity as a fallible human being
  • You don’t have lingering guilt and unsettled feelings
  • You take responsibility for what you did or said, knowing it’s worth the effort
  • Your apology shows your strength and desire to re-connect and clears the air so you don’t have unfinished business

#11. Attitude: Meanspirited (aggressive, spiteful, cruel)

Solution: Deal with injustices and violations

What You’re Experiencing:

  • Smolder over life’s injustices and violations
  • Perceive events and other people’s actions as violations or injus­tices
  • Believe it’s your right to vent anger and displeasure on others
  • Use mean, cruel, and damaging words, with rude and disrespect­ful behavior
  • Think “You hurt me, so I’m going to hurt you back.”
  • Feel alienated, isolated, separate, different

The Price You Pay:

  • Harboring hostility and hatred towards others, turn specific events into ugly blowouts
  • Shutting others out, becoming callous, passive-aggressive — anger but afraid to show it
  • Inflicting abuse — if others fear for their emotional, mental, and physical safety — what you are doing is abusive. Your angry words and actions cause the victims of your vicious attacks to be devastated, insulted, or threatened, pushing them to lash back in anger, shrivel in sadness, or cower in fear and close their hearts in pain, withdraw
  • All possibilities for genuine intimacy vanishes

How to Change:

  • Give up need to be ‘in control’
  • Revert to silence when impulse to strike out hits, walk away or respond when calmer
  • When feel anger rising and desire to be mean, process real or perceived violations and injustices by expressing anger in a way that doesn’t damage others or things of value, take a time-out to pound some phonebooks, scream into pillow, or stomp around
  • Accept that people, things, and situations are the way they are
  • Apologize for unkind words and actions, then listen to hear about the effect they created
  • Act in kind, compassionate, thoughtful ways that demonstrate a willingness to work together
  • Take action to right the injustice or violation with clarity, direct­ness, and respect
  • Avoid hot foods, hot places, hot exercise, hot conversations

Power On:

I feel so mad.

It’s okay to feel angry.

I just need to move this energy out.

People and things are the way they are, not the way I want them to be.

Once you’ve dealt with anger and accepted what you don’t like, look within to hear your intuition, and then obey, speak up about yourself about the specific event that triggered you, don’t bring in other “trans­gressions” or hurl unkind labels

As needed make a specific request, or set a boundary and follow through if crossed

The Upside:

  • Your softness replaces harshness; humility replaces pride; opti­mism replaces negativity
  • You feel love, respect, connection, and relish what you share in common
  • You let go of the resentments you’ve been holding onto
  • You operate from a loving space and people are drawn to you
  • You sustain intimate relationships and feel more love than ever before

©2011 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.

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Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.

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About the Author

Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T., author of: Attitude ReconstructionJude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/

* Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace