A Clean Mind

Blogging about a less stressful way to live…

Anger & Other Relationship Stuff

This post will be more about anger in the beginning, but further down you’ll see that it contains some classic relationship stuff. Here we go…

A client came in to work on his anger. He was tired of it and wanted to finally deal with it once and for all. His wife was quite happy about this decision, too. In fact, she might have been part of that decision! I don’t remember exactly…

The first session was pretty standard, with me thoroughly explaining what I’m always like a broken record about – feelings and thoughts. We mostly focused on feeling and releasing as the alternative to expressing the anger (check out the BEGIN HERE! category if this is not familiar). We also talked about his specific triggers so that he’d be on the lookout for them. As always, he’d leave my office after the first session with powerful new tools for life. We’d set a second appointment for a week or two out so that he’d have a chance to practice what he had learned. Then he’d return and we’d discuss what went down.

When he came in nine days later, he said life had been pretty uneventful since our first session. He had been working most of the time, anyway. Since this was five minutes into the session, I was wondering what we’d talk about for the next forty minutes! So I kept asking some questions to see if he had experienced what I had been talking about at all. Did you get angry or stressed? Did you notice it and feel it? Did the anger start to move on after you just breathed and felt it without any thinking or story? Were you able to let go of it, while letting it be there? It was sounding to me like none of this had happened, which would mean we’d have very little to discuss. And then he said something like, “Well, my two young kids were fighting, and that always makes me feel stressed out.” Now we’re talking… So I asked what he did when he noticed that he was getting stressed. He said that he did what we had practiced the week before – he stopped, closed his eyes, breathed, and let go of the stress. And I asked him the inevitable next question, “What happened to the stress when you did that? Did it move?” And his answer was… yes! And I was internally high-fiving the air and jumping up and down.

While my client was super chill as he told me what had happened, I was super excited. I asked him, “Do you realize what you did?? You learned something new, practiced it a few days later in the heat of the moment, and you got noticeable results. That’s major! Just do the same exact thing for the rest of your life and you’ll be all good!” You see, often we get in arguments with people, especially family members, and we don’t realize that we came into the exchange carrying stress from earlier in the day. We were already in a combustible state. Being around young kids fighting is a very easy way to become combustible. Then you end up in an argument with someone else and it wasn’t even really about that person – it was because you were already angry and stressed out from hearing the kids fighting. Classic family stuff. My client noticed this and immediately whacked it. He let it go and centered himself. He was no longer combustible because he learned something and then applied it. This is huge. And after only one session!

It gets better. I asked if he could think of anything else at all like this, and he finally remembered that his wife had gotten a pretty expensive speeding ticket since we first met. Excellent! Why is that excellent? Because that’s how it works – learn new stuff in first session, practice when life inevitably goes south, then return to discuss. That’s the way. So I asked what happened when his wife told him about the ticket and he said he did the same thing. He did not react. He stayed calm. He resisted the urge to say something snide to her about screwing up and costing them hard-earned money, like he would’ve done before we had met. All after one session! It seems small, but the only thing that can happen now is that the volume can get turned up when life goes south. But the laws of feelings are the same – feel them without thought and they move whether something big or small has happened to disturb your peace. It’s just much easier to deal with a little anger or stress (or sadness or any other feeling) than a lot.

My client simply has to practice the same thing whenever life goes south, and he’ll live a much more peaceful life than he otherwise would have. So cool. He learned something one time, put it into action, and got measurable results. Here’s where the classic relationship BS comes in. In each case mentioned above, he would’ve ended up in an argument with his wife. Instead, he avoided that same old tired, useless outcome by his own doing. He was able to make a different choice. I asked about his religious or spiritual beliefs, and he said he was raised in the church but doesn’t go now. I explained that he’s on the path to inner peace, which is something that Jesus endorsed. This is the beginning of that path, and that’s pretty powerful. It’ll take more and more to rattle him as he practices. And whenever he gets mad, he won’t beat himself up. Instead, he’ll just examine how it happened so that he can learn. Then life will bring him the same test later, and at some point he’ll pass it. He passed the two tests he had since our first session, though. He passed them with flying colors. Straight A’s. I love my job…

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All anybody really wants is peace. The good news is that peace can be learned. I’m serious. This should be taught in middle school, but it’s not. So I’m teaching it now.

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