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Chapter 15. Surviving Aggression > Containing Our Aggression: Avoiding Self-Sab...

Containing Our Aggression: Avoiding Self-Sabotage

Much of the general wisdom about how to deal with our anger is inaccurate. Talking about our anger with a friend or therapist does not necessarily lead it to decrease. Rumination tends to increase our anger as we continually replay the hurt. Talking is useful if it leads us to look at the situation in ways that are less upsetting, such as by seeing the perpetrator’s actions as not intended to hurt us. Talking also helps if it leads us to find assertive/constructive ways of fixing or at least coping with the frustrating situation. Behaving aggressively toward someone who has angered us may make us feel better, but it also decreases our inhibitions on being aggressive toward people in the future. It can also lead to a cycle of retaliation and counter-retaliation, increasing our frustration and weakening our inhibitions.

Our beliefs about situations, rather than the situations themselves make us angry. If we think that someone is being callous and inconsiderate, we are much more likely to become angry than if we think that the person is overwhelmed and preoccupied. We often jump to incorrect conclusions about why someone is behaving in a certain way. More careful consideration, or accepting that we do not know the reason, will often help us to calm down and no longer seek revenge.


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