How to Manage and Deal with Anger
with Thomas DiBlasi
Intro to Thomas DiBlasi (01:50)
What anger is (02:30)
Effective strategies to manage anger (08:20)
Letting go of expectations to let go of anger (16:50)
Building a habit of mindfulness when we feel anger (22:00)
What to do if you want to feel angry (25:40)
What to do when you can’t move on from angering situation years later (30:12)
The power of compassion and forgiveness (36:03)
What to do if the anger you feel is towards yourself (39:40)
How to let go of angry energy and unprocessed trauma (44:03)
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
Thomas DiBlasi is an Assistant Professor at St. Joseph’s College where he teaches undergraduate students, and researches anger, aggression, domestic violence, and revenge. He is a member of APA (specifically Divisions 1, 2, 12, and 19), National Anger Management Association (NAMA), New York City- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (NYC-CBT), Association of Domestic Violence Intervention Providers, EPA, and ABCT, where is he also on the leadership committee for the special interest group of Forensic and Externalizing Behaviors.
Lesya Liu 0:01
Hello everyone and welcome to the new episode of The you can exhale now, today I am hosting Tom Degrassi who has a PhD in clinical psychology and is an assistant professor at St. Joseph's College, where he studies anger, domestic violence and revenge. And I am really excited about this conversation because for a lot of people, we try to stay positive, quote unquote, and try to ignore or suppress what we perceive as negative emotions, such as anger and thoughts about revenge. And of course, I am hoping that today Tom will be able to share with us different strategies on how to cope with these emotions, how to make sure that we let go of anger and how to do this life as it is in a healthy, balanced way.
Thomas DiBlasi 1:02
Hello, everybody. I appreciate you having me on and let me kind of just speak about anger. So I love talking about anger. I think anger is often overlooked. Even when you look at the research for every one article published on anger, there's about seven on anxiety that attend depression. So even within the field, it's really overloaded. It's really not spoken about much. And so I think looking at anger and trying to get it out there more and recognize that it's also okay to experience emotions, where every single person will experience anger, and there's some pros and cons to it. And so I want us to kind of think a little bit about, you know, when we do try to cope with anger, what does that look like? There's unhealthy ways and some unhealthy ways. First, just to speak out about what anger is, I think that's often missed, as well. What is anger and separating from aggression? You weren't in the research, there's such a misunderstanding of what anger is. So anger is a negative psycho biological state, right. So there's our arousal, as well as a negative aspect. And it usually does relate to thoughts of revenge and thoughts of demandingness. And we'll get into what that means. But an example of that is shitting on somebody telling them what they should be doing right or even telling yourself what you should be doing versus what you want. And it usually relates to some sort of aggressive behavior that we verbal or motor. So when I'm talking about aggression going through, I'm really specifically referring to motor aggression. anger and aggression are two very different constructs.A lot of times people think you have to be whenever you're angry, you're aggressive. But aggression only follows anger about 10% of time. That's 90% of the time people are able to cope with their anger in a way that does not lead to physical aggression, which is great because as a society, can you imagine the other way around, right? be running amok everywhere. How great is that? Right, that we're not as aggressive and they're probably ways you could do their anger better. And I think one One way, I guess, just not coping with anger actually is this idea of catharsis and letting it out. To me. It's like a punching bag. So our research has looked at this catharsis hypothesis, the idea of releasing your anger by using a punching bag or hitting a pillow, right are even screaming into the pillow. Now, she's only shown negative outcomes, it's only showing more aggression to follow. And that actually makes a lot of sense. We think about it for a moment. If I'm training my body to think when I'm angry to do this, do these motor and verbal behaviors, right motor and verbal aggression, while we're about to start to adopt that and maybe you can't get to a pillar one time and so you end up punching the wall. And so we want to make sure we can come up with some better coping strategies in that. Right, because you are
Lesya Liu 4:49
Strengthening that connection in your brain, right? That if you're angry, you have to punch something.
Thomas DiBlasi 4:57
Yeah, that's exactly right. Yeah, it goes back to Pavlov's dogs. Some of you may be familiar with how Pavlov's dogs learn, when the light turned on, they got fed, they actually started salivating. It's still the same thing as the trick here. When I'm angry, I punch the pillow, I should now you've associated that bond repeatedly together. And so now your body has more of an urge to go ahead and punch much more so than before if you never even had that bond to begin with. So I think it's better we can kind of come up with healthier ways, right? And there's many different ways we could cope with anger. We kind of get into that a little bit.
Lesya Liu 5:35
Absolutely. So what are the healthier strategies to anchor because I think it's interesting to see that our society teaches us that anger is not good. Anger is bad. You should try to suppress anger on one hand, right? And then there is on the other channel, where you do get aggressive Some people do get aggressive and they're angry and they're done being punished for it again, which makes sense in this scenario, but how do we call this anger in a healthy way where we do not try to push it away? But also do not encourage it? Do not learn to act on anger every time you feel this emotion?
Thomas DiBlasi 6:24
Yeah, it's such a great question. So, I mean, first of all, start by saying that any and all emotions are evolutionarily beneficial to some extent. Otherwise, they wouldn't continue. So we've been programmed to evolve over time. And so any and all emotions are helpful to some extent. So when you're anxious, it keeps you feeling when you're anxious, let's say a fear of heights, right? When you look down the Empire State Building, man, and I held it a fear of falling. So when I looked down from the Empire State Building, I looked down like oh, that's that's quite a far drop, right. It keeps you from jumping off the Empire State Building. Right, the anxiety is actually a good thing there. And so all emotions are like that they all have a positive outcome to some extent, right? When used appropriately. Depression to it's like that I don't think a lot of people think about this way, with depression, what you're doing is drawing people in, you draw people in to you, and you gather more support. Typically when you're depressed people are more likely to be there for you when you're depressed than when you're not depressed in that way. Typically, right? Now, the season cons to each one of these emotions as well. Anger is no different, right? When you're angry, it's feedback to your body that you don't like something right? Or you may like what somebody else is doing. You may not like what's up what you're doing even. And so with that, you want to go ahead and use that information. And using that information doesn't mean aggressing on the other person. And so you know, I think anger is exactly a primary secondary emotion or a secondary one. Anger is very protective, though. And when it's a primary emotion usually relates to a social injustice or some sort of injustice. So, Martin Luther King, Jr. was very angry and outraged, right about the social injustice. And so the anger that was very functional, if you will, right, as I want to think about its function for us, what are the positive outcomes of our anger? And what ways does it make it unhelpful? The goal of anger management, I've done quite a bit of work in intervention therapy and working with clients on probation and parole court mandated and the golden commandments never get rid of an emotion. It's not to get rid of anger. But instead, how do we minimize it right? Even if you're experiencing high levels of anger constantly, I mean, minimize it to the point with most functionality for you. range. I want us to kind of keep that in mind as we're going through it. The goal is not to eliminate anger altogether, because anger is helpful, functional to some extent, but instead, how do we go ahead and make it most functional for you? And so I think part of it is recognizing When it's being used as a secondary emotion, but anger and anger is a secondary emotion, what is the message? It's telling you that as well. Oftentimes it's underlying that anger is hurt, feeling pain, feeling outrage that your significant other said that said X to you, right? Are they cheated on you? Let's use as an example, doing outrageous and cheated on you. And underlying that is pocketing a lot of pain and hurt. And so it's more helpful to focus on the pain and the hurt there then is to focus on the anger, but the anger it acts as a protection for us to even just where you're trying to feel that hurt and that pain, and pushes the other person away. So some of the helpful skills I think we can use. It really depends on the situation, the context. So I'm going to go ahead and list a few skills that we talked about more about what each one is and what seems to be the most appropriate context. But all these skills can be helpful just depends on your goals at that moment in your values. So some of these things like the avoidance and escape, let's avoid an anger provoking situation to begin with, right? Let's just not even engage if we don't have to. Or if you know you're about to lose your temper, go for a walk, but just get out of the situation. So avoidance and escape. It's similar substance abuse, if you know that they're if you're trying to during recovery and try not to use and you know that it'd be drugs, the party later is gonna be out with a party leader. Let's just not go to the party, right? Or if you see someone without the drugs. Try to leave at that point. I go to the front room, try and try to remove yourself from that situation. So then another strategy is PMR, progressive muscle relaxation. And so going back to anger is a negative psycho biological state, right? It's filled with aggressive behaviors, motor or verbal as well as a dimension Yes, and thoughts of revenge. They put the fact it's a negative bio psycho biological state. These are our sympathetic nervous systems that are activated during that time. I think we often forget that, in fact, most people are not aware that they're experiencing muscle tension while they're angry, right or even leading up to the anger. Most people are not aware of that, that speaks to how the lack of attunement we have with our own body. But if we can go ahead and increase that using progressive muscle relaxation, that can be very, very helpful, right, we can start to recognize our own internal cues. And hey, Gail, I'm bothered, you're a little irate, right? I'm kind of using that as a tool to go forward. So PMR progressive muscle relaxation is really helpful. So you start to notice the tension muscles, and then you relax them, tense them, relax them, and I can share a video on that if you'd like to can help as a guide. In terms of doing it yourself about five minutes long.
Lesya Liu 11:44
That would be awesome. And we'll include that in the episode notes below.
Thomas DiBlasi 11:50
Great. Thank you. My colleague Mike lead did he's much more relaxing than I am. So I like that he did the video. There's other things you can do right that would be something called changing your temperature. I love this skill I use most of my clients. I think it's phenomenal. There is a cool YouTube video on this as well. So when you're changing the temperature of your body, right, you can actually see your heart rate dropped. Thank you for wearing a Fitbit. It was something similar to that. If you hold your breath and cold water, right, particularly in cold water up by a sink or if you can't do that, go ahead and splash cold water in your face repeatedly. You really can't do that and the best you can do is run cold water underneath your arms to shower, that's fine, you can do that instead. Now your hands or your wrist. You do that instead. I think the best thing is to go ahead and hold your breath under cold water for about 30 seconds and you can actually watch your heart rate drop and that acts as a cooling. It's such a cool body and still makes it more challenging for you to go in and out. 10 is aggressive impulses. And so using chain your body temperature is really, really important. A lot of my clients use this. And it's so helpful for them, the hard parts and remembering to use it in the moment. So that's always a hard part of this stuff is going and using the skills in the moment. assertiveness training is another really helpful one. So this is great if you're trying to communicate more effectively. Whenever I introduce the clients, it's me being that 80 out of 100 hundred being the English you could be saying being that 80 out of 100, but operating in a 40. Okay, so we're not saying let's get rid of your anger. Right here. What we're saying is how do you communicate in a way it's most effective to get you what you want? How do we go ahead and tell the other person that you're feeling very hurt by what they said to you? So problem solving, anger, evolutionary speaking, has been very narrowly focused. When we're angry, we focus on just the threat in front of us. Maybe you perceive it to be a threat. I suppose. Acts protective mechanism against that threat. social problem solving, right is trying to undo that. So we're angry, we only focus on that thing. Problem Solving, is trying to expand our thinking, right? Instead of going in and just thinking about that one threat in front of us and only hitting the person, right? We can only narrowly focus on only one option. We'll also be thinking about what if I were to do A, B, C, D, or f. a? Yeah, it's hard to do that at the moment. So that's one thing we'll talk about this but putting a gap in between your trigger and your initial reaction. And then the behavior. Right, so with that challenge in your thoughts, right, cognitive therapy, or CBT. Both these approaches have tried to challenge your thoughts in the moment, right. And the most frequent thought is actually thought of demanding as mentioned before, demandingness is this idea that someone should or must or needs to happen? To act a certain way they must do that you might need to apply to yourself, but I have to get an assignment done right now. And truthfully, why is that the case? Why do you need to get it done that moment? The only thing you have to do in life is die. They don't need that so morbid under what I mean is you have to pay taxes, right? There are consequences for that silly. Listen to me but, but you're willing to accept those consequences, then you don't have to pay anything, you have to do anything. Like, they're just consequences for that. And we sometimes forget, forget that way that you don't have to do anything. You know, so if I would say to you that I want you to buy me lunch, right? I want you to go ahead and get me lunch every day for the next week. Like, you're gonna tell me about my mind. Because Who are you to buy to go ahead and tell you that it doesn't change the fact that I'm telling you that. No, you need to do it. You have to do it. You should do it. You Have to do it you're choosing to go ahead and do what you think is best for you. And the days that that's what everybody does, but they choose what is best for them in that moment to live their best life. You might do something for somebody else because that personally matters to you. But it doesn't, it's not because you need to do it or have to do it because you want to do it. I think that's a big distinction or we can make that distinction to when you want to do it versus you need to do it. It feels less like a chore and more fulfilling than also. So I think it's sometimes hard to keep that in mind even if the person cutting you off while you're driving. They don't need to use their blinker, right you're like perforate, be safer if they did, but they don't need to do it. They may want you to want them to and that's okay to want to do that. Like I went to win a million dollars. That's not anytime soon. But you it's okay for you For you to want them to do it doesn't mean they need to do it. I think making that distinction is so important.
Lesya Liu 17:00
A very interesting perspective because I think one thing you know, that almost kind of gets out of this is especially oftentimes they relations and families, the they feel like another person has to do something for us or shoot a certain way even under your own life. Sometimes you say you should go find a better job or you should not hang out with this person because they're not not a good influence on you. But I think that this puts us in an interesting kind of verbal effect where you get angry and the shoot, like you said, all over them. And then they only get angrier, but they don't do what they expect. I guess what they expect they should do in the situation.
Thomas DiBlasi 17:52
You know, it's not, it's very compounding in that sense, right. And I guess let's think about what anger is doing right. So protective. So it's keeping us away from the threatening trigger. And this is the most common reason for anger. It is the most common personally to anger. Rather, it's not from yourself, either when experiencing it is people that we like, or we love people who are closest to us, and most likely to be labeled our biggest anchor purse. And so thinking about that, wait, that means our romantic partner, right? That means our friends, that means maybe co workers, people who we want to have family members, people who want to close to play ships with, we're incidentally pushing away. So you're yelling at the person about something, we are thinking about revenge or telling them how you were to take revenge. You know, and using that as a threat, it does push people away. And the more we tell them that they should get a better job, or else. That's probably not going to get, make them get a better job or even think about it for yourself for a moment. But if someone threatens you with that, most people don't respond. Positive that most people have now their own anger reaction towards that, and now becomes a standoff, who's gonna be angry or who's gonna be stronger in that sense, I'm gonna use trauma very loosely there and hold their ground more because it actually ends up being weaker, right, as a result of that you end up now damage the relationship further. And that's why I think if we can go ahead and use assertiveness there by the students, trainers just talk about and really express how you're feeling that ends up being a much more productive conversation than just going ahead and saying that you should do a better job. Well, why don't we unpack that a little bit? Why do you want the person to get their job? Now, as I said, I don't need? Well, it's hard for us to pay the bills. Okay. So getting a better job than getting a better job, made easier, pay the bills. What else? You know? Well, you know, I noticed that the other person sometimes feels depressed when they come home from work, they don't feel like they're very fulfilled because they want them to feel happier. Okay, that's also a big component, right? Maybe the two of them would be happy with the hell the more money the research shows about up to that 7075 thousand dollars. But if you make that much money that is linked to better happiness beyond that it's not linked to increased happiness. So maybe down to a better paying job would make them a bit happier. But thinking about it as a collective, where it's you, me the relationship is focusing on the other person is a lot less threatening and is more likely to lead to the person getting a better job, then go ahead and threaten them with that, you must get a better job. Or even a better parent with kids, right? You happen to your schoolwork. You know, if you say, look, you know, I really want you to do well in school. So this way you can go ahead and cheat later on. Why is long school very, very important? Kids are much smarter than we give them credit for. But they understand a lot more than we realize they do. Kids are problem solving, even when they're six months old, eight months old. By then putting two and two together. They don't always get four but two together, but they're trying to like a project. is still about. And so, as a result, if it gets really helpful parents can go ahead and explain to them that, hey, I want you to do this work, right? Because it's so important for you to do well in school for all these reasons. I want to show you that that what a hard work ethic is, like, whatever it might be, but that was important for you, and raising your kids with, you know, the bodies when it's still snowing them, the go ahead and explaining all that is gonna be much more effective until they should do the work because you are doing the work, because you listen to their parents every day for most part, but they might resent you a little bit for at the end of the day, too. I think that's really important. Keep in mind as well.
Lesya Liu 21:39
You know, I think you brought an interesting point about the difficulty of using these techniques in the moment I think. Shabbat is a huge part of our lives. And you know, when, for example, when I started therapy A while ago for anxiety, I just didn't have the help. It's even though you know, we all know the tools or you think they know the tools, but it's the habit of stopping in that moment. And instead of reaching for our, you know, tried and true solution, like, for example, if I'm angry, I reached out to my best to love Stop yelling at the other person, or something like that. So how can we instill this habit in us of remembering this techniques and being a little bit more mindful every time we get angry to the point where, you know, little step by little step, it becomes easier to control our emotions and to handle them in healthy ways?
Thomas DiBlasi 22:43
Yeah, that's a great question. I think it is very challenging, because it's a lot of fun, but I think it's especially challenging when we don't practice them every day. So the best way you can go ahead and do this is practice outside of the moment. Start to make it like that. muscle memory, think about a basketball player. If you go ahead and shoot the basketball 100 times outside of the game, you're that sort of form of muscle memory. Just like in the game, you still have the same form when you go to shoot the ball as you did in practice. It's the same thing for us here, right? If you practice it outside the moment, if you practice deep breathing if you practice changing the temperature, even when you're not angry yet, if you practice being assertive when you're not angry, or just challenging your own thoughts, right and looking for the evidence, like these, oftentimes what we think is not correct anyway. Try not to use demandingness. Try to use what I want, like you can practice that a little bit each day doesn't have to be that long, maybe five minutes each day, in the moment it becomes so much easier to do. So much easier, right? You might even start to notice, hey, I've been tracking deep breathing or PMR progressive muscle relaxation every day for the past two weeks. In Europe when I was angry. Just a little Then a guy started to notice that my, my fists were tense, right? I had one client who would say that they always felt the tension of the shoulders right, or their left arm, which we rolled out was not a heart attack. But, you know, I think if we can go ahead and do these skills a little bit each day, that's really important. And I don't want to say the fee is stealing for an hour each day. That's not really realistic, right? I don't want to set yourself up for failure. We can set ourselves up for success by saying, Let me take out five minutes, five minutes in the morning, five minutes at night, wherever you can call that out. Maybe a little bit of a lunch break. We'll just go ahead and take the five minutes to practice these skills practicing deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation. Practice challenging your thoughts. Ladies agenda day what we really like the absolute angle would be your experience and anger trigger. Being able to use deep breathing, to the challenge your thoughts with a gap in between the triggers And the behavior challenge. So deep breathing challenge your thoughts. Like, you know, my impulse right now is saying that my original thought is saying they did that on purpose, right? And they need to pay for that. If we can challenge our thoughts a little bit with that, and instead say, you know what, I don't know they did that on purpose. They often forget to wash the dishes. And yes, I'm a little annoyed having to remind them constantly. And that doesn't mean that they did this intentionally. So what are some other ways for me to go ahead and say this to them in a way that might be more effective to get what I want is being yelled back is never really, I don't say never but will rarely get you what you want. So we can combine this the skills, do deep breathing or PMR. challenge your thoughts, to use problem solving and be assertive. That would be ideal and some of its conceptual tools out there. But that would be the ideal approach.
Lesya Liu 25:56
And you know, the first one to admit: Sometimes when you get angry in that moment you feel so self righteous, you feel so powerful, right? Sometimes you just like, get so angry, you're about to explode. And yet, like in some weird way, it almost feels good. If you know what I mean, you feel powerful, you feel self righteous, you feel like you're standing up for yourself. Finally, what do you say, are the best shots that just when you're in that moment where you almost want to feel angry, for some reason, if it makes sense at all?
Thomas DiBlasi 26:34
Yeah, this is a very common experience. Now a lot of my clients have told me that there's a study that was done. I guess it's been 26 years actually. So it's been done a little while ago. But he found that the only emotion that people like experiencing more than anger is happiness. And I think that's really eye opening. Their happiness. Happiness is the only emotion people are experiencing. that anger. So there is something that alerts you to the negative state, right? There's something reinforcing about anger, right? I think as you call that self righteousness idea of wanting to stand up for yourself. I like that terminology. And so I think the best thing you could do is come up with a plan ahead of time, right? And so you know what? I don't know that I'm feeling that way. I feel and really feel like I'm in the right, and I want to say x and y, and z, and stand up for myself. And that may not be the most helpful thing to do at that moment. And I think it's helpful that your account has experienced that to be true, right doesn't mean doesn't mean what you're feeling isn't valid, I want to put that out. It doesn't mean what you're feeling is wrong or isn't valid, it may very well be justified. But in the way you're about to approach it may not be the most helpful so we can go ahead and before it even happens planned for that, so you know what we're gonna explain what happens on a walk. I'm going to go ahead and put the water on my face, right. I'm going to leave for 20 minutes. Do something I enjoy, listen to some music and then come back. You can do something like that. Listen to listen to funny videos, their humor is a great way to to discount anger. Doing some of that would be really helpful. And that anger still persists. If you really feel that anger is really justified, you'll still have the words to come half an hour later. I'm not advocating don't saying it right. That's why I think assertiveness comes in. I'm not advocating don't say I'm not advocating being passive or being aggressive. I'm advocating being a certain signal for yourself in a way it's gonna be the most functional for you, your relationship with another person, right? I mean, just the way you want to live your life.
Lesya Liu 28:42
Because I think you know, from my own experience, I think in that moment, even when you feel self righteous and justified at the end of the day, then you get tired right and you suffer from your anger because if if that angers really justified and I guess you can stand up for yourself in a calmer way, right? which sometimes can be even more powerful if you can just calmly explain the person Why, why they're intervals or, you know, come live with your two weeks notice and then just be done is the place of work if that makes you angry or something like that.
Thomas DiBlasi 29:23
Yeah, absolutely. I think that that's very much true, right? If you can explain it, when you are calmer, right? I think it is more powerful. But I think about this deal with breakups. If you break up with someone out of rage, the right fit of anger with the person, but oftentimes those breakups don't last. It's the breakups that relate to speaking when you're not angry, that lasts more, right, there's a more likely persistence when you are actually broken up. But if you're showing the person this is a calm level approach, and you're right, if you really are that angry about something and if you really are just that that anger leads to justified, it'll still be present after. It'll still be present. with anger, so much good justification for it, it'll still be present even after you're no longer experienced that rage. So I think that's really important. No one's advocating for you to nothing for yourself. I wouldn't say that. What I'm saying is, let's do it in a way it's most helpful for you. If you're, if you and your partner are young, over something that probably isn't always gonna be the most helpful. You don't say, just a thought, you know, I don't know. I just thought.
Lesya Liu 30:32
What about you know, if, let's say anger persists, in that. Maybe the situation happened to you a few years ago, maybe the situation happened to you in childhood, you know, maybe you've had abusive parents and you haven't spoken to them or, you know, you haven't seen them or stuff like that. And that anger just persists inside of you and you feel like there's No way out. There's no way to face that person to face that person who hurt us who abused us. Would you suggest how you get closure? And how do you move on in a healthy way where that anger is not eating you from inside out?
Thomas DiBlasi 31:19
Yes. Yeah. So that's a challenging question. You know, I think it's challenging for everyone to like to experience something that I think is sometimes very contextual. I also put that out there. But it's challenging for people who are here are victims of abuse, right, or survivors of abuse, or trauma. Right, and how do you cope with that anger? You know, I mean, there are some pretty effective therapies looking at prolonged exposure and cognitive processing therapy that are pretty helpful for that. And even afterwards, sometimes that anger still persists even after processing the trauma. Thank you. I think one thing that is very, very helpful This often doesn't get received well in the beginning. So I want to, I guess keep an open mind to it is the idea of perspective taking in forgiveness. But I think that it's actually a very important perspective, taking in forgiveness is not about the other person. It's not. It's about helping you live a better life. Right? It's not out saying the other person was right, right. Forgiveness is not going ahead and saying, Oh, it's okay. What you did to me, it's not, it's not okay. because no one's okay. We're gonna be talking about it right now. Instead, it's going ahead and saying you're letting go of the anger for your own benefit. And that, I think, is very different from what people think about forgiveness now. And so with that, I need to do several different exercises with it. I think you can go out and write the personal letter, right and maybe never send it or send it. It's up to you. Kind of organizing your thoughts a little bit. We think that seems to be very helpful for a lot of clients. Another thing to do really engaging in perspective taking. So really looking at it from their perspective, going ahead and using I statements as if you are the other person, right? And the answer like they really would not, not the way you think you would answer it for them, but the way you really think they would answer that question, right? The first thing people often say is, oh, I did stupid, right? Well, that's probably not what people are telling themselves, right? No one really says I did x because I'm stupid, right? This thing that they did, it was right. Um, instead, right people are going in and doing better would be too really from their perspective. So I think going ahead and challenging their thoughts challenge your thoughts in that context, looking from that perspective, and when you're looking at that perspective, think about what are their skill sets? Right? Do they actually have the ability to do what you would want them to do? Not not do not should they actually Let's be careful using that language, whether it's implicit or explicit, people often use that language most commonly associate cognition with anger, right? Not should they have that ability, you might expect them to be able to have an emotional conversation, especially if the parent is talking to a child. But it doesn't mean that they shouldn't be able to, or they even do mean, just look up from that perspective. Do they have that skill set? Oftentimes, the answer is no. And oftentimes, too, you know, you can't really expect someone recently to fly a plane to be able to fly the plane. So I think that's really important. Keep in mind there have a skill set, you can't expect that of them. Right? People often don't gauge and delay gratification. Also, people often engage in immediate gratification, okay. Until you look for the easiest way that that's true for most people in this world. And the other thing is, it's really important to think about one's genes, no one's learning history. So if something is abused, there's a genetic component to substance abuse and depression and anxiety, right? As well as anger. And so being able to account for that, right, oh, everyone in their family has a lot of people in their family have these issues. Right. So they're starting off on a different platform right off the bat. So I think that's important to keep in mind also. And looking at one's learning history, so the way they experience their life, you know, it makes sense that, you know, they act this way given X, Y and Z. Right, and makes sense that they are abusive, given the right day were treated as kids, they were abused as kids. And they forget about that. I mean, there's not quite a one to one ratio with that, but it's awfully high. Right? So people who were abused are more likely to be the abuser going forward. But I really want to hire this not to make excuses. Right. This is not to make excuses, rather to help someone understand, so they can move forward. They're like, hey, it's a very selfish focus, which I think is a good thing as humans actually innately selfish. And thank God we always want to be able to propagate like a species. But humans are innately selfish. And that's okay. forgiveness and project taking is not selflessness and his selfishness in a way of how do I live my best life and how to let go of his anger.
Lesya Liu 36:24
Mm hmm. That makes sense. And do you think you know that forgiveness is probably the antidote to thoughts of revenge? Because, you know, I think again, just when you're angry and you feel self righteous, and you feel justified in your anger, you want to get back at the person who hurt, did you, but every major religion teaches us against revenge, right? They, every major religion, teaches us to forgive. Is that the biggest part of the puzzle of the answer to this or are there? Or is there more to do and to consider when thinking about prevention?
Thomas DiBlasi 37:10
Yeah, so your every single major religion does teach us that right? I'm actually reading a book right now. To a man see Scott Wiener. He writes a few other books, but essentially it's his quest or a god. And what which explores a few different religions along the way, and he's going through each one of them and it's quite interesting to read and as I'm reading it, you know why there's so many similarities between you know, these eight different religions. But I think forgiveness really is the key to it all. And I want to point out that it's so much easier said than done. Right? It's so much easier to say forgive right again, to go ahead and actually do it right. I think it was Confucius somebody who said, you know, throwing a hot stone hurts the hurts, you're not the person you're trying to throw it to, right. And that's how I really viewed anger, right is going ahead and holding that hot stuff holding that anger hurts the beholder, not the person who you're trying to do it to me try to do it. And so forgiveness would be really, really helpful. I think challenging those thoughts learning the other person's life even that way. And that can be very powerful and emotional to our liquids out there is trying to forgive you a person. I have a client who, as you're working through people who have really hurt him in his life, and it just kind of clicked for him. He just started completely crying, right for a good 15 minutes. And, you know, it was very, very emotional for him to go through that. And I think that was a very moving experience. And I think that's something to share, right? Cuz I think I'd really like to put those pieces together and he's got to realize, you know, what, I'm I recognize now why they did it. I don't agree with it. I don't like it. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. I don't have to agree with it, I can understand it. And by understanding, it makes it easier for me to move on. And so forgiveness really is an antidote of revenge, especially, you know, incorporating the idea of the RVT there to rational emotive behavior therapy challenging those thoughts of demandingness. Oftentimes, revenge, it's this idea of being you think you're treated unfairly or unjustly? Right. So again, relate to demandingness. And trying to challenge that putting these demands on other people is really the heart of the idea of revenge to begin with, right? I have to get back at them because they did x. And the implicit thought of that is they shouldn't have done x. Because if I do documentaries, he made me a sandwich, right? Like no one says that, right? No one says poison the sandwich. But you know, thinking about that, you if we go ahead and consider the idea that our implicit thoughts are based on this idea of shooting a person and challenge those should chances demands, like, maybe not only a more forgiving place, but also a much more compassionate place as well. And I think that really kind of combats a lot of the revenge.
Lesya Liu 40:16
That makes sense. So what about if you experience anger at yourself, right? Sometimes we live with this regret, and sometimes we can be our own harshest critics, especially even if, like, you know, did something wrong, or hurt somebody whether on purpose or not on purpose, or maybe we should have known better than to do XYZ. I think there's a lot of poison to live this anger at yourself. So what strategies if, if they're at all different from what you've talked about? Therefore, dealing with this anger when you're being angry at yourself for something you've done many years ago or you've done yesterday.
Thomas DiBlasi 41:10
Yeah. So I think a lot of strategies would be the same. I try to challenge those thoughts that are trying to say, why should you have done x? Why would you be doing better? I think a key component with that, too, is our personality. And what we do is made up of our environment, like our genes and our learning history, right? So if anybody grew up with those genes, without learning history and the current environment of the environment throughout your lifetime, we all are doing the exact same thing. But we all have the same genes, the same learning history, the same context, we all do the exact same thing. Right. And I think that's so important to remember. It allows for more compassion, not just for other people for ourselves, too. Right. So let's see you talking about you know, I really wish I didn't go to that. That college I really wish I went to somewhere else. Right? Well, you made the best decision for yourself with the information you had at that moment. You really wish you didn't engage in a certain behavior, right? And I can understand, you know, looking back at it, maybe that wasn't the best behavior, but you thought it was that moment. And to recognize that give yourself the compassion that you acted in the best way you could in that moment. If you had more time to think about it. Or if you were maybe in a better place, mentally or emotionally for yourself was in a different environment, you probably made a different decision. Have that compassion for ourselves. That'd be so important. Right? That'd be really helpful. The hard part is really believing it but you can't logically understand it, but emotionally you might not believe it yet. And so part of it is getting that emotional insight working to get that emotional insight. The biggest thing to do is not just telling yourself those thoughts, but now acting in line with those thoughts. Right. So instead of ruminating about the anger of the event, right, instead of berating yourself for it, right, telling yourself, Hey, you know what, I acted the best way possible at that time. You know, I'm gonna write a note to myself and write a letter to myself just like a friend, I talked to myself, you would be a friend, you probably would tell their friend, hey, it's okay. You know, what? A VC envy, right? Talk to yourself that way. Because in the day, we have to rush ourselves if we can really have a deep voice with somebody else as well. So I think that's very, very important. I think the other thing too, is just being kind to yourself. Right? I think one thing I like to do with my clients is, especially people who have anger towards themselves, is to write three things that they like about themselves every day, right for the next week or two. And you can't repeat that. And you'll notice that some of them might start off a little superficial but they start to grow because you can't repeat, right? So you can't say every single time that you like the same three things. Um, but you still start to grow. And you should really think about yourself in a different way. And start to really notice, you know what I do like this about me, but I like I was hitting says before, but the more I think about myself in a positive way, which is what you're trying to go for, the more I actually do like x, y, z, so really thinking clearly about yourself. But really very important. putting that into action, even if you don't fully believe it in the moment. Okay, putting into action, the most important part is that feeling will come, but it only comes to you allow yourself to engage in the behavior to come.
Lesya Liu 44:43
That'spowerful. So I would like to finish this episode on a more somatic note and just talk about you know, as any emotion anger is energy inside of us, I don't know if it's a little Volvo or not. I think there's research right now about how processed emotions and trauma are stored in our bodies as energy. So how would you recommend to move this energy out of us and you know, live more freely, live more happily lighter? Just out all of this increased energy inside of us?
Thomas DiBlasi 45:24
Yeah, yeah, I think the most important thing is lunar value field life. Right? So making a distinction between values and goals. Right? So goals are things you can accomplish and value the direction you're always heading in. Right? So you might value education, you cannot fully accomplish an education you could accomplish the goal of graduating but you can't really accomplish the goal of education right? You can't learn absolutely every single fact there is to know in the world. Unfortunately, though you can do right is value education, you can achieve a goal of graduating. You might value family and your goal might be to spend time on the phone twice a week, right? or spend time with them once a week, whatever it might be. So I've been making that distinction between values and goals, and really trying to live that life by trying to feel the anger get my way. Well, you'll find that even if you are experiencing some anger, some residual anger, but if you're not letting that dictate your life, it will start to subside. And B, you'll start to find yourself leaving for life. Right? So if you are experiencing anger towards a family member, right, not going to a family party is going to make it really challenging to have close relations with other members of your family. So now you're in value of a family and you have a living off step value. Right? The goal might be to go ahead and go to the family party and spend time with them. But because that vendor might be there might not want to go. But can we go ahead and use our skills and engage in something that is valued anywhere? And go to the party and try and come up with a plan, just not really engaged with that person. If possible, they don't do that. That'd be the end goal, right. So now that anger dictates our life, most of notice that starts to subside. And if possible, you know, one of the best things you could do is exercise. If exercise can be bottled up into a pill, it'd be the most common prescribed pill throughout the world. Right? So thinking about that is exercise is awesome, right? moderate level of exercise, but particularly Aerobic exercise. And it lets a lot of the juices out, I guess. Right. So that'd be a great, great experience. Also, particularly aerobics or running yoga. I need those things.
Lesya Liu 47:39
Mm hmm. Absolutely. Well, Tom, thank you so much. for this episode. I think it's one of the longer episodes but I absolutely love it. I've asked you so many questions from different angles and you've done so well. So thank you so much for sharing or all your knowledge and this is our listeners today.
Thomas DiBlasi 48:00
Thank you so much. I really appreciate you having me on here. Thank you.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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