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  • Jim Hoadley, LPC

The Most Important Words in Anger Management - Part Two

Part Two. Powerful words that you can use to create awareness and prompt change in your behavior:

LIFE IS MOSTLY ABOUT HABITS – Automatic thoughts and behaviors run my life. Whatever behaviors and thoughts I want to change, I need to think them and do them every day until they are automatic and reflexive.

EVEN MORE IMPORTANT ARE RITUALS – There should be at least a few things that I do to make my life better that are sacred. I do not let anything get in the way of doing them.

WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP? - The six most important words in the English language.

WHATEVER I FOCUS ON GETS BIGGER - If I focus on how terrible my problems are they will get worse and if I focus on how to solve my problems they get will get better.


NO JUDGEMENT, NO BLAME, NO CRITICISM – Validation, empathy, and mirroring instead.

EVERYONE IS ANNOYING AND IRRITATING, ESPECIALLY ME - Remembering my own ability to annoy and irritate helps keep me out of judgment.

PEOPLE EITHER TARGET IN OR TARGET OUT – When I am triggered I have a characteristic way of dealing with my anxiety. Extreme targeting in leads to suicide and extreme targeting out leads to homicide.

WHEN I GET ANGRY, BAD THINGS HAPPEN – When I feel angry, it passes. I can also explore the feelings underneath the anger. When I get angry my behaviors are destructive.

ANYTIME I OVERREACT IT’S ABOUT THE PAST – If I can be in the present moment I respond appropriately. If I’m triggered it’s because of a trauma in my past and I will overreact.

WE TRAIN PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US – For better or worse we let people know what we will accept and what we won’t.

THE HOW IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE WHAT – How I am with people is what people are more likely to remember than what I am saying. I may be making complete sense, but saying it in a way that pushes people away – like losing my temper.

BUILD A BRIDGE WITH FEELINGS NOT WITH FACTS – I will almost always disagree with you about the “facts”. Sharing and validating our feelings bring us together.

IF THAT’S WORKING FOR YOU, KEEP DOING IT – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FAIR FIGHT – Fighting and arguing make relationships worse and eventually destroy them. Talking calmly creates a possibility of better.

WHAT IS THE SMALLEST POSSIBLE CHANGE I CAN MAKE? – Today, this week, this month, this year, what small changes will make my life better. It’s cumulative. They add up.


I LOVE YOU AND I WANT YOU TO BE HAPPY – The universal statement appropriate for almost all occasions. Learn it, say it, and live it.

I AM NOT THE PROBLEM, THE PROBLEM IS THE PROBLEM – The immediate problem is that I lose my temper. I need to figure out what I need to do to change my behavior and do it.

I’M NEVER MORE DANGEROUS THEN WHEN I KNOW I’M RIGHT - When I have to be right that behavior creates separation between me and everyone else.

NO ONE CAN MAKE ME LOSE MY TEMPER WITHOUT MY PERMISSION – I want to be in charge of my thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Why would I give up power over myself to someone who is provoking me to lose my temper?

IF YOU WANT WHAT YOU’VE GOT, KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING – My life won’t change unless I do something different.

I DO TO OTHERS WHAT’S BEEN DONE TO ME, UNTIL I STOP -The hurt that people have done to me I act out on other people until I realize what I’m doing, feel my hurt from the past, feel their hurt, and stop.

THE WAY I TREAT OTHERS REFLECTS THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF – When I feel good about myself I’m kind, compassionate, generous and grateful. When I feel angry, ashamed, hurt, betrayed, self-righteous, helpless and victimized I treat others the way I feel. As my real self-esteem grows and I feel better about myself, I treat myself and others better.

JUST BECAUSE WE LOVE SOMEONE DOESN’T MEAN WE CAN LIVE WITH THEM –Loving someone means we want their happiness at least as much as our own and that may mean it’s better to be good friends than unhappy partners or spouses.

EVERYTHING I DO OR SAY OR THINK ABOUT OTHERS, I DO TO MYSELF – Everything I do or say or think is a reflection of how I feel or believe about myself. I cannot harm you without harming me. IF

YOU WANT TO BE WITH ME, WHY ARE YOU SO MEAN TO ME? – Why am I losing my temper with someone I say that I love. That’s not love, that’s abuse.

THE BEHAVIOR OF ANGER IS ALMOST ALWAYS ABOUT MOVING AWAY FROM A PRIMARY FEELING – I am uncomfortable with feelings such as sadness, hurt, disappointment, helplessness and shame therefore I move into angry behaviors in a desperate attempt to feel more in control – which makes the situation worse.

THE PAIN OF THE PROBLEM HAS TO BE GREATER THAN THE PAIN OF THE SOLUTION – The pain of holding on to my angry behaviors has to be greater than the pain of letting go of my angry behaviors and finding healthy coping behaviors.

WHEN I STOP DOING SOMETHING DESTRUCTIVE, I NEED TO HAVE SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO TAKE IT’S PLACE – I cannot expect to stop a behavior without having a more positive behavior to take its’ place. I cannot simply remove hatred without replacing it with something else that works better – like compassion.

EVERYBODY COMES WITH A SET OF PROBLEMS. I GET TO DECIDE WHICH PROBLEMS I TAKE ON – There is no such thing as a perfect person with no problems, no issues, and no baggage. Most of the time I pick someone to be with who is at about the same level of consciousness. i.e. Someone who is about as crazy as I am. According to the research by John Gottman two-thirds of the problems that come up over and over between couples cannot be resolved. They have to be managed and that takes a set of skills that must be learned. It’s important to pick someone whose unresolvable problems I can live with. If I can’t live with them it’s better to part amicably rather than destroying the relationship by losing my temper.

INSTEAD OF BELIEVING SOMETHING WHEN WE SEE IT, WE’RE MORE LIKELY TO BELIEVE SOMETHING FIRST AND THEN SEE IT – “To a hammer, all the world is a nail”, reflects the idea that our beliefs determine our reality rather than the other way around. When we don’t question our beliefs on a regular basis we may find that reality is a very painful experience.

THE MIND THAT GOT ME INTO THIS MESS IS NOT THE MIND THAT IS GOING TO GET ME OUT OF THIS MESS– In order to solve my problems I have to think outside of the box (mess) that my mind has put me in. I have to see the situation with fresh eyes.

WE ALL RE-CREATE OUR CHILDHOODS IN ONE WAY OR MULTIPLE WAYS. WE RE-CREATE WHAT WE LIKED AS WELL AS WHAT WE DIDN’T LIKE – As adults, we end up feeling some or all of the ways we did when we were young. Our lives may appear very different than our childhoods, or not. Our feelings, however, will most likely match the feelings we had when we were growing up. If we recognize this we can begin to make changes for a better life. When facing the disruption that anger can bring into our lives, the words we say--especially those that we say to ourselves--can have enormous impact.

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