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People talk a lot these days about the benefits of journaling. They say that journaling can be highly effective for helping people process their emotions. Seems easy enough, right? Well, simply writing your feelings down on paper can be effective, but to get the most out of the journaling experience, consider experimenting with different methods. In this blog post, we will focus on one particular journaling method, called Morning Pages.

Morning Pages

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way and many other fabulous books, offers a powerful way to express your feelings through what she named “Morning Pages.” The way it works is simple. In the morning, when you wake up, the very first thing you do is sit down at your desk with pen and paper in hand, and you write. NON STOP. Until you’ve completed four pages.

What?!?! Four pages?!? Why so many? The reason is this: during the first couple of pages or so, you’re practically vomiting all the garbage in your mind onto paper (yes, vomiting!). All the negative thoughts and emotions, misunderstandings, irrational beliefs, complaints, and hurts you carry around with you…they’re usually the first to come up and out on paper. So let it rip!

The trick is to KEEP GOING—by letting it all out, you give yourself the space to get beyond the negativity, and toward the truth.

But don’t stop yet! Once you’ve expressed that part of yourself, you can finally get to the heart of the matter and find out what it is you really want and need. As you keep writing, you may start to feel a shift in your energy. Perhaps you feel a sense of relief, a greater connection to love and joy, or maybe even an insight about yourself and your life. Whatever it may be, the important thing to note is that you keep writing until the negative charge has dissipated. When you experience yourself residing in either a neutral or a positive place, then you know that you’re done journaling.

Congratulate yourself!

In anger management, the words “respect” and “disrespect” are heard often. Mostly it is about how someone else is disrespectful. So let’s think about what it means to be or feel disrespected.

First, let’s define the term “Respect.” According to Dictionary.com, respect is defined as deference to a right, privilege, privileged position; proper acceptance or courtesy; and acknowledgment. According to Merriam-Webster, respect means a high or special regard. Thus, when a person states they are disrespected, they are probably feeling disregarded, or not acknowledged.

In our Anger Management program, we discuss how the feeling of anger is a secondary emotion, meaning there is an underlying emotion felt before anger. Understanding this feeling allows you to reduce the likelihood of aggressive behavior.

Take the following example: someone cuts you off while driving and you slam on your brakes to avoid rear-ending that person. You suddenly become angry and start yelling at the person. However there is an underlying feeling here: fear. You become afraid that your life or car might be in danger however, you cannot do much with fear. Therefore, anger takes over to help you take action. This is the point you start to honk. The underlying feelings of disrespect and anger parallel.

The word “respect” is based on a person’s beliefs and experiences. Since people have different perceptions about what happens around them, their version of “respectful” will vary. So, when you hold certain beliefs about how someone should act with you in certain situations, and that person acts differently than what you expect, you think that he/she is being disrespectful towards you.

Example: You feel that your partner should be at your side throughout the duration of a party or social event. Let’s examine the situation. Think of the following belief: A partner should be by the side of a significant other at social events otherwise, it is not a good relationship. The reason for this belief is to feel emotionally safe with your partner. Feeling disrespected occurs when your partner leaves your side for a little while. You start to think, “He prefers being with his friends than with me,” and you begin to feel disregarded and hurt. Your discomfort with feeling hurt becomes overwhelming, so your body’s defense mechanism prevails. Instead of connecting with the emotional pain and taking responsibility, you blame your partner for “disrespecting” you.

Notice how you attribute your responsibility of your pain to your partner. You are holding your partner responsible for your own emotional pain, and expect them to change their behavior (which you label as disrespectful), rather than changing your own belief and thought around the situation (owning your emotion and belief, and taking responsibility). Essentially by stating “He disrespected me,” you are victimizing yourself. You are giving your partner the power over your feelings. The purpose of this blog entry is to help become aware of your own beliefs and thoughts, and not give so much power to those around you.

You may think, “Well, at what point am I not supposed to be okay with what my partner is doing?” Great question since it is frequently asked. You still have your set of boundaries that feel comfortable and/or uncomfortable. If you have friends in your surroundings that seem to have healthy relationships, ask them how they perceive the same situation. Or ask yourself, “Is this belief helping me or hurting me?”

The good news is that beliefs that result in feeling disrespected are learned, so they can be unlearned. When replacing a belief with one that is helpful, you realize that you rarely feel disrespected; your poor perception of the situation changes. Your improved insight of the underlying thoughts and feelings of disrespect helps with building healthier relationships.

If you would like to work on your outlook of life so that you feel more respect rather than disrespect, contact one of our Anger Management counselors. At Anger Management 818, we are ready to help you have better influence of your life. You may request from your anger management counselor to review the “Disrespect Worksheet” with you.

Author: Anita Avedian, MFT
Director of Anger Management 818

The following are a series of thought patterns that can lead a person to anger if he/she is not aware of what is occurring and does not take steps to disarm them:

  • You think that people misunderstand you or do not listen to you much of the time?
  • You constantly think of things you could have or should have said or done better?
  • You often judge what others could have or should have said or done better?
  • You habitually think of ways that people have hurt, embarrassed or blamed you?
  • You can’t help thinking that others are talking about you behind your back?
  • You cannot stop suspecting that others do not want you to succeed and are working against you?
  • You blame others for the plight in which you find yourself now or found yourself before?
  • You think that “if only people saw it my way—the right way—things would be much better (i.e. , you would be in your comfort zone)?”
  • You have to control what others do, so that things turn out the way they are supposed to (to your advantage)?
  • You think, “I have the right to get mad if you don’t do what I want you to?”
  • You believe that you do not have a choice and have to react to various stressors by getting angry?
  • You are sure that getting angry is a useful tool for intimidating people and getting your way?
  • You are afraid for your safety or that of a loved one and immediately go into “fight” (flight, freeze) mode?
  • You think that you are entitled to do or have things that others are not; and if you are not allowed to do/have it, that you have the right to demand it?
  • You often believe that you are owed something and don’t understand why others don’t see it?
  • When you are waiting in line and someone cuts in, or if you think that someone is getting preferential treatment at your expense you get angry.
  • You believe, but won’t admit, that certain rules should be followed by others, but that you are an exception?
  • It feels like a personal attack when your significant other is with someone else for any reason or has gone somewhere without telling you and you think of ways to punish her/him?
  • You are constantly going over stories in your mind that you have told or will tell others, so as not to be caught in a lie.
  • You hold grudges or find it impossible to forgive certain people?
  • You get frustrated quickly and lose hope that things will get better?
  • You have pictured in your mind what it would be like to harm or kill yourself or another person?

Michael L. Hecht, MA, MFT, 8/30/2011