Don't Let Depression Attack You – David D. Burns - Feeling Angry? What is your IQ?

Feeling Angry? What is your IQ?

What is your IQ? I don't care how smart you are, because your intelligence has nothing to do with your ability to live happily. What I want to know is what your Irritability Quotient (IQ) is. It shows the level of anger and annoyance that you tend to take in and nurture in your daily life. If your quotient is particularly high, then you will be at a huge disadvantage because you overreact to frustration and discouragement by creating feelings of resentment that make your mood gloomy and your life a burden of sorrow.

Here's how to measure your IQ. Read the 25 disturbing situations described below. Estimate your level of anger in each situation on the following scale:

0-You don't feel annoyed, or only on a very small level.

1-You feel a little annoyed.

2-You feel quite uncomfortable.

3-You feel quite angry.

4-You feel extremely angry.

Write down the answers after each question as shown in the example below:

You're driving to the airport to pick up a friend, and you're forced to stop and wait for a very long freight train to pass by.


The person who answered this question estimated his reaction at No. 2, because he felt quite uncomfortable, but this unpleasant feeling would quickly pass as the train went away. As you describe how you would react to the following situations, make the most accurate guess possible, even though many important details were omitted (such as what kind of day it was, whether anyone was involved in the situation, etc etc.)

Novaco Anger Level Scale

1. You "open the box" of a newly purchased device, plug it in, and discover that it does not work. ______

2. Being pinched by a furniture repairman and paying too high a price for him. ______

3. Criticized by name while others are ignored. ______

4. Your car gets bogged down or stuck in mud. ______

5. You're talking to someone and people don't bother to answer you. ______

6. Someone appears to be the kind of person they are not. ______

7. You were fiddling with four cups of coffee to your table in the diner when someone bumped into you and spilled the coffee. ______

8. You hung your clothes up, but someone dropped them on the floor and didn't hang them back up. _____

9. You are stalked by the salesman from the moment you walk into the store. ______

10. You have arranged a time to go somewhere with someone who retreats and leaves you at the last minute. ______

11. Being teased or laughed at. ______

12. Your car stalls at a crossroads, and the guy behind you keeps honking your horn. ______

13. You accidentally took a wrong turn in the parking lot. When you get out of the car, someone yells, "Where did you learn to drive?"

14. Someone makes a mistake and blames you. ______

15. You are trying to concentrate, but a person sitting near you keeps pacing their feet. ______

16. You lend someone a book or an important item, and they do not return it to you. ______

17. You've just had a busy day, and the person you live with begins to complain about how you forgot to do what you agreed to do. ______

18. You're trying to talk about something important with your partner or partner, but they're not giving you a chance to express how you feel. ______

19. You're talking to someone who keeps arguing about a topic he or she doesn't understand. ______

20. Someone "dips their nose" in an argument between you and another person. ______

21. You need to get somewhere, but the car in front of you keeps going at 25 km/h in the allowed 40 km/h zone, and you can't pass. ______

22. Stepping on gum residue. ______

23. Be ridiculed by a group of people when you walk past them. ______

24. In a hurry, your pants are cut a line by a sharp object. ______

25. You use the last coin to make a phone call, but you are disconnected before you finish pressing the number, and lose the coin. ______

Now that you've completed the scale, calculate your Anger Index. Make sure you don't skip any categories. Calculate a total score for 25 situations. The lowest score for this test is 0. This means that you give each situation 0 points. It shows you are either a liar or a master! The maximum score is 100. This means that you score 4 points for each situation, and you are constantly in a state of explosive anger.

Now you can explain your total score as below:

0 – 45:

Your level of anger and annoyance is surprisingly low. Only few of us scored that low on this test. You are one of them!

46 – 55:

Basically, you are significantly calmer than the average person.

56 – 75:

You react to life's annoyances with an average level of anger.

76 – 85:

You often react angrily to life's annoyances. Basically, you are significantly more annoyed than the average person.

86 – 100:

You are the true champion of anger, and you often have prolonged angry reactions. You must harbor negative emotions long after the initial insult has passed. Maybe among your friends you have a reputation for being short-tempered. You often have severe headaches and high blood pressure. Your anger often spirals out of control and leads to outbursts of hatred, which sometimes get you into trouble. Only a few percent of adults have the same type of severe reaction as you.

Now that you know your anger level, let's see what you can do about it. Conventional wisdom, psychotherapists (and communities) suggest two basic ways to deal with anger: (a) "swallowing anger" inward; or (b) "let go" out.

The first method seems to be a "toxic" option—you bring your anger inside and absorb it like a sponge. Eventually, it erodes you and causes you to feel guilty and depressed. Early-stage psychoanalysts, such as Freud, suggested that swallowing anger was the cause of depression. Unfortunately, there is no convincing evidence to support this view.

The second method is said to be "healthy" — you express your anger, and will probably feel better after releasing your emotions. The problem with this overly simplistic method is that it doesn't work very well. If you let out all your anger, then the people around you will quickly see you as crazy. At the same time, you don't learn how to deal with people in society without getting angry.

You have a third option:

Stop creating your anger.

This method is superior to both of the above methods. You don't have to choose between holding back or venting your anger because it won't exist.

In this chapter, I'll walk you through evaluating the pros and cons of being angry in a variety of situations, so that you can decide when it's good or bad for you. If desired, you can learn to tame your inner emotions; Gradually you will no longer be disturbed by the overwhelming feelings of discomfort and frustration that make your life uselessly sour.

Who makes you angry?

"Those people! ! I can't stand them anymore! I need to stay away from them!"

The woman recorded this thought at 2 a.m. when she couldn't sleep. How could the dogs and noisy neighbors in her apartment complex be so heartless? Similar to you, I bet you also believe that it is the stupid and self-only actions of others that make you angry.

Often we believe that objective facts make us sad. When you are angry with someone, you automatically attribute them to the cause of your bad feelings. You say, "You're bothering me! You me off." When you think like this, you're actually deceiving yourself, because people can't make you angry.

That's right — you didn't hear it wrong. A kid might squeeze in front of you when you're in line for movie tickets. A "friend" can take your share in a business venture. Your partner is always late for appointments even though he knows how much you value being punctual. No matter how excessive and unfair you find others, they don't, never have, and will never bother you. The disheartening truth is that you are the one causing your inner hurt.

This sounds strange and silly, doesn't it? The relationship between thoughts and anger is shown in Table 7-1. As you can see, before you get upset about anything, you must first be aware of what's going on and interpret it your way. How you feel about things creates your emotions, not the incident itself.

Table 7-1. It's not the negative events but your perceptions and thoughts about these events that create your emotional response.
OBJECTIVE FACTS: (out of your control) SUBJECTIVE FACTS: (within your control)
Other people's actions. Think


"It's not fair!"

"That guy!"

I'm not going to be resigned!"



You speak directly in the other person's face, or coldly retreat. You intend to retaliate.



Anger, frustration, fear, guilt.

For example, let's say after a busy day, you put your 2-year-old in a crib for him to sleep in. You close his bedroom door, sit down to relax and watch TV. 20 minutes later, he suddenly opened the door and came out and giggled. You can react to this incident in different ways, depending on the meaning you assign to it. If you're feeling uncomfortable, you're probably thinking, "! The kid was annoying all the time. Why doesn't he stay in his crib and sleep? He never let me rest for even a minute!" On the other hand, you might be glad to see him come out of the bedroom because you think, "Great! For the first time he was able to climb out of the crib. He's growing up and becoming more independent." In both cases, it was the same. How you think about that situation determines your emotional response.

I'm sure I know what you're thinking right now: "The example of that baby is unrealistic. When I'm angry, there must be some rational trigger. There is a lot of real injustice and cruelty in this world. I have no way of thinking about the that goes on every day without feeling uncomfortable. You want to perform a brain surgery and turn me into an emotionless walking corpse? THANKS BUT I DON'T NEED TO!"

Of course, you're right that countless negative things actually happen every day, but the emotions you have are still due to the meaning you interpret them. Learn about these explanations because anger can be a double-edged sword. The aftermath of a rage will often set you up for failure in the long run. Even if you're really being bullied, feeling angry won't help. The suffering and torment you make yourself endure through feeling uncomfortable can have a much greater impact than the initial insult. As one female restaurant manager put it, "Absolutely—I have the right to get angry. The other day, I discovered that the chef had forgotten to order ham even though I had seriously reminded them, so in the heat of the moment, I threw a pot of hot water in the kitchen. Two minutes later, I knew I had misbehaved, but I didn't want to admit it, so I had to spend all my energy over the next 48 hours convincing myself that I had the right to behave so badly in front of 20 employees! It's not worth it!"

In many cases, misperceptions create anger. Just like when you fall into depression, your mindset is distorted, one-sided, or completely wrong. When you learn to replace these false thoughts with more realistic and effective ones, you'll feel less irritated and have better control over yourself.

What are the most common false thoughts that come up whenever you're angry? That's the labeling mindset. When you describe the person who makes you angry as "shit," "junk," or "trash," you're viewing that person negatively. It is true that someone has betrayed your trust, and you are absolutely right to be mad about what he has done. Conversely, when you label someone, then you are creating the impression that the person's "nature" is evil. You are directing your anger at their "nature."

When you see others this way, you're making a mental list of everything you don't like about them (filtering thinking) and ignoring or downplaying their strengths (dismissing the positive). This is how you create false targets for your anger. In fact, every human being is a complex mixture of positive, negative and neutral characteristics.

Labeling is a misguided thought process that makes you feel irrationally outraged and put on your partner's face. It's very harmful to build your personal image this way: a labeling mindset inevitably leads the way to the need to vent your anger on others. Your desire to "-for-tat" makes the conflict more acute and causes the other person to have similar attitudes and feelings. Labeling is like self-inspired prophecy. You confront others and create conflict.

What purpose does this war have? Often you want to protect your self-esteem. Your partner may have threatened you by insulting or criticizing, or by not liking you, or disagreeing with your opinion. As a result, you see yourself in a battle for survival. The problem is that the other person is not a completely useless person, no matter how much you insist! Moreover, you can't boost your self-esteem by putting others down, even if it makes you feel good for a moment. Only negative misleading thoughts of yourself will cause you to lose your self-esteem. There is only one person in the world capable of threatening your self-esteem – and that is you. Your value is lowered only when you lower yourself. The real solution is to stop irrational internal criticism.

Another cause of anger in your mind is that you mistakenly believe that you read other people's minds. You interpret the motives for other people's actions on your own. The problem with these supposed explanations is that they are just add-on labels that don't provide any authentic information. In fact, those explanations are ten wrong.

Here's an example: Joan gets angry when her husband says that on Sundays he'd rather watch football on TV than go to a concert with her. She felt uncomfortable because she told herself, "He doesn't love me! He always does what he wants! It's not fair!" When Joan thinks about her husband's motives in such an irrational way, she creates the illusion that he doesn't love her plus misses the concert with him. Joan got it wrong. He loves her and he doesn't always get his way. He just wanted to watch his favorite football game that day.

The third misconception that causes anger is exaggeration. If you exaggerate the significance of the negative event, the intensity and duration of your emotional reactions may be pushed up excessively. For example, if you're waiting for a late bus and you have an important appointment, you might say to yourself, "I can't take it anymore!" Isn't that a small exaggeration? Because you're putting up with it, which means you can handle it, so why would you tell yourself you can't?

The hassle of waiting for the bus is bad enough, you don't need to make yourself more uncomfortable and pitiful this way. Do you really want to be that angry?

Do's and don'ts when used in the wrong context are the fourth type of false thinking that triggers anger. When you see someone acting in a way you don't like, you tell yourself that they "shouldn't" have done it, or that they "should" have done something they couldn't have done. For example, let's say you check into a hotel and discover that they lost your reservation information, and now they have no available rooms. You angrily insist, "This shouldn't have happened! What a bunch of stupid employees!"

By saying that they shouldn't have made this mistake, you're creating unnecessary frustration for yourself. It's bad luck to have your booking information lost, but no one deliberately treated you unfairly, or that the staff were stupid. The truth is: Your anger certainly doesn't magically turn you into a room, and going to another hotel is far less annoying than ruminating for hours or days about lost reservations.

In fact, we can define anger as the type of emotion when we believe we are being treated unfairly.

Different views of injustice are the primary cause of most, if not all, tantrums. Here's the truth you need to face: There is no unified view of fairness and justice. "Absolute fairness" does not exist.

"Fairness" depends on who sees it, and what is fair to one may be unfair to the other.

The proof is this: When a lion eats a sheep, is it unfair? From the sheep's point of view, that's unfair. The lion is killing it brutally and deliberately when it is not aggressive. From the lion's point of view, it is fair for lions to eat lamb. He was hungry, and this was the daily food he felt entitled to eat. Which side is "right"?

There is no complete or unanimous answer to this question because there exists no "absolute fairness." In fact, fairness is just an emotional explanation, an abstract concept, a point of view of your own making. What about when you eat a beef burger? Is that "unfair"? Not for you. From the bull's point of view, it is obviously unfair. Which side is "right"? There is no "absolutely correct" answer.

Although "absolute fairness" does not exist, personal and social moral codes are still important and useful. Most common anger stems from ambiguity between individual desires and society's general moral code. When you get angry at someone and tell you that they are behaving "unfairly," often the truth is that they are behaving "fairly" according to different norms and perspectives than you.

We all have different mindsets. When you ignore this and blame the other person, you will both argue in vain about who is "right." The whole controversy is based on the illusion of "absolute fairness."

Does this mean that all anger is irrelevant and that the concepts of "justice" and "morality" are useless, because justice and morality are relative? Some famous authors do give us that impression. Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote:

We are used to seeking justice in our lives, and when we don't find it, we tend to get angry, anxious, or frustrated. In fact, it's similar to finding a fountain of youth, or myths like that. Equity does not exist. It has never and never will exist.

The world simply doesn't work that way. Sparrows eat insects. That's not fair to vermin... You need to look at nature to realize that there is no justice in this world. Hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, droughts are all unfair.

This view represents the opposite extreme and exemplifies the "eat all, fall to zero" mindset. Although not existing in absolute form, the concept of justice is socially useful.

In addition to the view that the concept of justice is an illusion, Dr. Dyer also seems to argue that anger is useless:

You may agree that anger is a part of life, but do you realize that it has no practical purpose?... You don't have to have it, and it doesn't contribute in the slightest bit to making you a happy, fulfilled person. The irony is that anger never helps us change others...

Again, it seems that his argument is based on misperception. Suggesting that anger means nothing is just a "eat it all, fall to zero" mindset and that anger is useless is an overgeneralization. In fact, anger can be appropriate and helpful in certain situations. So the real question is not "Should I feel angry?" but "Where is the boundary?"

The following two guidelines will help you determine when anger helps and when it doesn't. These two criteria can help you synchronize what you've learned and draw personal reflections on anger:

1. Do I direct my anger at someone whose behavior hurts me intentionally, intentionally, and gratuitously?

2. Is my anger helpful? Does anger help me achieve my desired goal, or does it just torment me?


You're playing basketball and a player on your team intentionally pushes his elbow into your stomach to hurt you and quit the game.

You can effectively direct your anger into playing harder and winning. Then your anger is helpful. When the game is over, you probably don't want to be angry anymore. At this point it was in vain.

Let's say your 3-year-old son foolishly runs into the street and nearly gets hit by a car. In this case, he did not intentionally harm himself. However, expressing yourself as angry can be helpful. Your change in tone conveys an important warning message to him that if you speak calmly and objectively, it won't work. In both of these examples, you choose to become angry, and the intensity and expression of this emotion is completely within your control.

The usefulness and positivity of that anger is different from the impulsive, uncontrollable, and aggressive aggression.

Let's say you're mad about some ridiculous violent situation you read about in the newspaper. Such behavior is clearly immoral and harmful to others. However, your anger can be useless if you don't have a plan to change that, which is very often the case. Conversely, if you choose to help the victims, or launch a crime campaign, then your anger can help.

As you keep these two criteria in mind, let me show you a series of methods that you can apply to manage anger in situations where anger is not the most helpful action for you.

Create aspiration.

Anger can be the hardest type of emotion to change. You don't really want to let go of feelings of anger, because there is only a desire in your heart to retaliate. After all, anger stems from feelings of injustice, so it's a moral emotion, and you don't want to let go of this sense of righteousness. You will have an almost irresistible urge to justify and defend your anger wholeheartedly. To overcome this, you need to be strong-willed.

Step One: Use the two-column parallel drawing method to create a list of the pros and cons of being angry and behaving in a-for-tat manner. Consider both the short- and long-term consequences of anger. Then, review that list and ask yourself what do you value more, the cost or benefit? This will help you determine if resentment is really in your best interest. Because most of us want the best for ourselves, this can lead to a calmer and more productive attitude.

For example, Sue is a 31-year-old woman who has 2 daughters with her ex-husband. Her current husband, John, is an industrious lawyer and has a teenage stepdaughter. Because John was so busy, Sue often felt uncomfortable. She felt that her husband treated her unfairly in this marriage, because he did not give her enough time and attention. She lists the benefits and harms from her unpleasant feelings in Table 7-2.

She also makes a list of the positive consequences of eliminating anger:

(1) People will love me more. They will want to be near themselves;

(2) I'll become more predictable;

(3) I will have better control over my emotions;

(4) I will feel more relaxed;

(5) I'll be more comfortable with myself;

(6) we will be seen as a positive, realistic person who does not judge others;

(7) I will behave like a more mature person, not like a child who only knows how to get what he wants;

(8) We'll influence others more effectively, and we'll get more of what we want by communicating rationally, calmly, and firmly, rather than by rage and demands; and

(9) Your husband and children and parents will respect you more. As a result of this review, Sue was convinced that the cost of anger outweighed the benefits.

Table 7-2. Breakdown of the pros and cons of anger
The benefits of being angry The harm of being angry
1. Releasing anger makes you feel good. 1. I'm going to make my relationship with John more sour.
2. John will understand his strong opposition to his behavior. 2. He will not support himself.
3. I have the right to be mad if I want to. 3. I often feel guilty and disappointed in myself after getting angry.
4. He will know that he is not an easily trampled person. 4. He must have responded and got angry with me, because he didn't want to suffer either.
5. I'll let him know that I'm not going to lose. 5.The problem that made me angry in the beginning is still there. The couple couldn't handle anything when they were angry.
6. Even if we don't get what we want, we at least feel fulfilled when we get retaliation. I can make him as upset and hurt as I am. Then he will have to change. 6. My mood swings are erratic. His irritability makes John and everyone around him never know what he wants. I was labeled as "sunny", stupid and immature. They see themselves as a selfish child who refuses to grow up.
  7. Maybe I'll freak them out. As they grow older, children get upset by their tantrums and see themselves as someone they need to stay away from rather than turn to when they need help.
  8. John will probably leave himself when he can't stand the grumbling words.
  9. The unhappy emotions we create make us miserable.

Life became a bitter day, and I missed out on the joy of life and creativity that I once cherished so much.

After listing the benefits and harms of being angry, let yourself make a similar review. Ask yourself, if the situation that upsets me doesn't change immediately, would I be ready to deal with it instead of becoming angry? If the answer is yes, then you are clearly motivated to change.

You will definitely have peace of mind and boost your self-esteem, and will improve your efficiency in life.

The choice is yours.

Cool angry thoughts.

Once you've decided to calm down, an invaluable method that can help you is to write down the "angry thoughts" that come to mind when you're upset. Then, replace it with less annoying and objective "calm thoughts" by applying the method of drawing two parallel columns (Table 7-3). Listen to those "angry thoughts" intuitively to take note of opposing opinions that arise in your mind. Acknowledge this inner dialogue without undercutting anything. I'm sure you'll see all sorts of colorful language and hateful fantasies. Write them down, then replace them with "calm thoughts" that are more objective and less temperamental. This will help you feel less agitated and overwhelmed.

Table 7-3. Sue writes down her "angry thoughts" when her husband reacts softly to his teenage stepdaughter's (Sandy) selfish manipulation. When replaced with less disturbing "calm thoughts," she no longer felt jealous and exasperated.
Angry thoughts Think calmly
1. How dare he disobey me! 1. Calm down. He is under no obligation to do everything his way. Besides, he's listening, but he's in a fighting back position because I'm pushing him too hard.
2. John doesn't have a lot of free time and if he spends that time helping her, then I'll be alone and have to take care of my kids on my own. 2. So what? I love being alone. I have the ability to take care of my children on my own. I'm not useless. I can manage. Maybe he'll want to be around me more if he learns not to get angry all the time.
3. Sandy takes up all his time for himself. 3. That's right. But I'm a grown woman. I can stand loneliness. I wouldn't mind that much if he spent time with his kids.
4. John is a fool. Sandy took advantage of others. 4. He's a great man. If he wants to help her, just help. I don't care about that. That's none of my business.
5. I can't stand it! 5. I can tolerate it. This is temporary. I've endured worse things than that.
6. I'm a demanding person. I deserve to drown in guilt. 6. I have the right to be childish at times. I'm not perfect and I don't have to be perfect.

Feeling guilty is unnecessary.

That doesn't help.

Sue wrote down "angry thoughts" that made her feel jealous and guilty (see Tables 7-3). When replaced by "calm thoughts", she felt better, and this acted as a medicine to neutralize the urge to control John.

Although she still felt he was wrong to let Sandy manipulate, she decided that he had a "right" to be "wrong." As a result, Sue pushes John less, and he begins to feel less stressed. Their relationship improves and blossoms when two people respect each other and give each other freedom. If you don't counter your "angry thoughts," you'll probably find it easy for both of you to get stuck again.

Imaginative method.

Negative "angry thoughts" that occur when you are angry are as if you were showing a movie in your mind. Have you ever paid attention to the images on your mind screen? In fact, the imaginary images of retaliation are extremely vivid and colorful!

You may not be aware of these imaginary images unless you search for them. Let me illustrate this. Let's say now I ask you to visualize a red apple in a brown basket. You close your eyes or open them while imagining. That! Now do you understand? That's what I mean. Most of us have these visual images throughout the day. It's an illustration of our thoughts. Now paint a picture in your mind of a vivid event in the past: a high school graduation, a first kiss, a hike... Have you seen those images?

These images can have a profound impact on you, and that impact creates positive or negative emotions, like a sweet dream or nightmare. A positive image can make you overjoyed. For example, while on your way to an amusement park, you imagine the spectacular roller coaster and feel impatient and excited. This imaginary image really brings a pleasant sense of excitement. Similarly, negative images can cause you to change your emotions quickly. Now, imagine someone who once made you angry. What image comes to mind? Can you imagine punching them in the face or kicking them into the water?

Those images make your anger persist. Feelings of anger gnaw at you for hours, days, months, or even years after it happened a long time ago. Imagination makes pain last forever. Every time you think about what happened, you inject an emotion-triggering drug into your body. You are like a cow chewing on a dose of poison over and over again.

So who is the creator of this anger? It's you, because you choose to put these images in your mind! As you know, the person you get mad at when you think about lives somewhere, or doesn't even live in this world anymore, so he or she is unlikely to be the culprit! Now you're the director and producer of this film, and worse, you're the only audience. Who watches and experiences all that agitation? IT'S YOU!

You're the only one who has to stiffen, bite your teeth, and adrenaline hormones flow through your blood vessels. Your blood pressure is constantly elevated. IN SHORT: You're hurting yourself. Do you want to continue like that?

If the answer is no, then you'll want to do something to reduce the anger-inducing images you're opening in your mind. One effective method is to creatively transform these images. Humor is a great tool. For example, instead of imagining yourself strangling the guy who drives you crazy, think of him in diapers walking around a crowded mall. Mentally sketch these details: the big belly, the diaper pins, the furry legs. How is your anger now? Are you laughing?

The second method is to stop thinking. When you notice the images that pop into your mind every day, remind yourself that you have the right to turn off the projector. Think of something else. Find someone and talk to them. Read a good book. Bake. Jogging. When you don't stir yourself up with angry images, it will appear less and less. Instead of dwelling on negative images, think of an upcoming event that interests you, or move on to a positive perspective. If the painful memory has not yet subsided, give your body vigorous exercise such as leapfrogging, jogging or swimming. The benefit of these activities is that they help you turn harmful emotions into good ones.

Re-establish the rule. You may be unnecessarily depressed and depressed because you set unrealistic rules for your personal relationships. If relationships are constantly strained, it's better to re-establish your rules. If you have a more realistic attitude, you can stop being depressed. This is much easier than trying to change the world.

Các quy tắc khiến bản thân lâm vào tình huống khó khăn trong các mối quan hệ thường không xuất hiện với vẻ hiểm ác, mà trái lại, thường có vẻ rất đạo đức và có tính nhân văn. Gần đây, tôi điều trị cho một phụ nữ tên Margaret có suy nghĩ là “hôn nhân phải là 50-50. Mỗi bên phải hy sinh cho đối phương một cách công bằng.”

She applied this rule to every relationship in human society. "If I'm kind to others, then they have to give me back."

What's wrong with that? Margaret's point may seem "reasonable" and "fair," but it's wrong on this point: it's an indisputable fact that human relationships, including marriage, are rarely reciprocal because not everyone is the same. "Reciprocity" requires consensus, communication, compromise and maturity of both parties. This takes negotiation and a lot of effort.

Margaret's problem was that she didn't realize it. She lives in a fairytale world where reciprocal treatment exists as a matter of course. She always did kind things to her husband, as well as to others, and she waited for them in return. Unfortunately, that unilateral agreement failed because often people didn't know that she expected to be rewarded.

For example, a local charity posts a job posting for an assistant director (paid) and starts work in the next few months. Margaret became interested in the position and applied for the job.

After that, she spent a lot of time volunteering for that organization and assumed that other employees would "reward" her by loving and respecting her, and that the director would "give back" by accepting her. In fact, other employees did not respond enthusiastically to her. Perhaps they sensed and found it annoying that she tried to control them with her "kindness" and nobility. When the manager chose another candidate for the position, she became enraged, feeling bitter and disillusioned because her "reciprocity" rule was broken!

Her rule had caused her so much trouble and frustration, that she chose to reinvent it, and see the return not as a giveaway but as a goal to aim for by pursuing self-interest. At the same time, she no longer requires people to read her mind and react the way she wants. Paradoxically, when she learns to expect less, she achieves more!

If you are having "should" or "don't" rules that make you feel frustrated and depressed, then rewrite it in a more realistic way. A few examples that can help you in this are presented in tables 7-4. You'll find that replacing the phrase "should" with "would be good if" can be a useful start.

Table 7-4. Adjust the "Must/Should Rule"
Harm yourself with the "must/should" rule Edited version
1. If we're kind to someone, they should appreciate us. 1. It's fine if they appreciate it, but it's not realistic. Often they'll appreciate it, but sometimes they won't.
2. Strangers must behave towards themselves courteously. 2. Most strangers will treat us courteously if we don't act like a machine. From time to time, some grumpy people will behave unpleasantly. Why am I bothered by that? Life is so short that we won't waste time on those negative details.
3. If we've sweated boiling tears over something, we have to get it. 3. This is ridiculous. You can't guarantee that you'll always succeed in everything. I'm not perfect and I don't have to be perfect.
4. If someone treats us unfairly, we need to be angry because we have that right and that's what human nature is. 4. Everyone has the right to be angry whether they are treated unfairly or not. The real issue is whether there is any benefit to getting angry. Do I want to be angry? What are its benefits and harms?
5. If we don't treat them like that, they shouldn't treat us like that. 5.. People don't live by our rules, so why would we expect them to follow them?

Often people will treat us the way we treat them, but that's not always the case.

Learn to anticipate things beyond expectations.

As the anger passes, Sue and John become closer and more loving.

However, Sandy reacted violently to this and made even more jokes than before. She starts lying, borrows money without paying, sneaks into Sue's bedroom rummaging through drawers and steals Sue's personal belongings, messing around the kitchen... This action made Sue mad because she told herself, "Sandy shouldn't be acting sneaky like that. This is so unfair!" Sue's feelings of frustration are a consequence of two factors:

1. Sandy's hateful actions;

2. Sue's expectation that Sandy should behave more maturely.

Because the evidence suggests Sandy won't change, Sue has only one choice: let go of the unrealistic expectation that Sandy will behave like an adult lady. She decided to write down the following memo for herself titled:

Why Sandy behaved in a nasty manner

Demanding is Sandy's nature because she believes she has a right to be loved and cared for. She thinks being loved and cared for is a matter of survival. She thought she needed to be the navel of the universe to survive. Therefore, she sees the lack of love as unfair and a major threat to her self-esteem.

Because she felt she had to find a way to get attention in order to be cared for, she had to behave that way. Therefore, I predict and know that she will continue to behave this way for some time to come, but it is unlikely to change overnight. So I have no reason to feel disappointed or surprised because she's going to behave the way she should.

Furthermore, I want everyone, including Sandy, to act in a way that they think is fair. Sandy felt it was entitled to more attention. Since her hateful behavior was based on a sense of entitlement, I needed to remind myself that from her point of view it was fair.

In the end, I wanted my mood to be in my control, not hers. Do I want to grieve myself for her "fair, obnoxious" actions? Don't! So I can start to change the way I react to her:

1. I can thank her for stealing, because that's what she "must" do!

2. I can laugh because her attention-grabbing act is childish.

3. I can choose not to get angry, unless I decide to use anger to achieve a specific goal.

4. If Sandy's provocative actions make me feel like I've lost my self-esteem, then I might wonder if I want to give that child such influence over me?

What effect do these memos bring? Sandy's provocative actions may have been intentionally intended to cause harm. Sandy deliberately targeted Sue because she felt angry and desperate.

Paradoxically, when Sue became depressed, she gave her exactly what she wanted! She was able to significantly alleviate her frustration by changing expectations.

Win people's hearts through behavior.

You may fear that you will lose out if you change your expectations and let go of your anger.

You may feel that others will take advantage of you. This fear reflects a feeling of weakness in you. You must believe that if you don't demand others, you will end up empty-handed.

So what other choice do you have? Okay, let's take a look at the discoveries of Dr. Mark K. Goldstein, a psychologist who has made innovative and excellent clinical studies of the behavioral condition of the wife towards the husband. In conducting this study with abandoned and angry wives, he discovered methods harmful to themselves that they used to get what they wanted from their husbands. He asked: What have we learned from studies of the most effective scientific method used to affect all living things, including bacteria, plants and mice? Can we apply those rules to aggressive and sometimes rough husbands?

The answer is simple – reward desirable actions instead of punishing unwanted actions. Punishment causes antipathy and resentment, both alienation and avoidance. Most of the abandoned wives he helped with psychological treatment were wrong in that they punished their husbands for getting what they wanted. In order to achieve what they want in their husbands, they must make a huge change. These women gain the ability to control their reactions to their husbands by scientifically recording information about their interactions with their husbands.

Here's an example that illustrates the effectiveness of a reward approach for one of Dr. Goldstein's patients. After years of turmoil, wife X said her husband eventually abandoned her and moved in with his girlfriend.

On the surface, it seems that the husband treats his wife very badly and indifferently. However, from time to time, he still calls her, proving that he cares about her too. She has the choice to cultivate this interest or reject it by continuing her previous inappropriate reactions.

Wife X has defined her purpose. She would try to see if she could get her husband to come back to her. The first step is to determine the likelihood of increasing the number of contacts her husband has with her. She meticulously noted the frequency and length of each call and the number of visits to her husband's home, and saved this information on a piece of paper taped to the refrigerator door. She carefully evaluates the crucial relationship between her behavior (the trigger) and how often he touches (the trigger).

She didn't contact him herself, but instead, she responded positively and showed interest in his calls. Her tactics are simple. Instead of noticing and reacting to everything she didn't like about him, she began to systematically care about the things that she liked about him.

The rewards she used were the things he liked—compliments, food, sex, affection...

She began to respond to his rare calls with a cheerful, positive, and appreciative attitude. She complimented and encouraged him.

She avoids criticism, quarrels, demands, or attacks, and she seeks to approve of everything he says by adopting a method of appeasement. Initially, she ends every call after 5-10 minutes to make sure the conversation doesn't turn into an argument or make him feel tasteless. After doing this several times, she found that her husband started calling her more often because the calls were positive and satisfying experiences for him. She recorded the increase in paper calls like a scientist monitoring and documenting the behavior of a lab rat. As his number of calls increased, she felt encouraged and the discomfort and resentment in her heart somewhat dissipated.

One day, he showed up at the door, as she had anticipated, and she said, "I'm glad you came to visit because just in time I had an imported cigar for you. It's the kind of expensive I really like." In fact, she had a whole box of cigars on hand so she could repeat this every time he visited, no matter the reason or time he arrived. She noticed that his visit frequency increased dramatically.

In the same way, she continues to influence his behavior by applauding rather than coercing. She realizes that she has succeeded when her husband decides to leave his girlfriend and asks if he can return to her.

Do I mean it's the only way to establish relationships and influence the people around you? It's not, it's very silly. There are situations that cannot be changed, and you can not always get what you want. Anyhow, try this promising method of applause. You may be pleasantly surprised to see remarkable results. This method not only makes the people you care about want to be with you, but it also helps you improve your mood, because you learn to care and focus on the positive things in others instead of just dwelling on their negative side.

Reduce the "do, must do" mindset.

One way to eliminate this mindset is to use the method of drawing two columns in parallel to write down a list of all the reasons that you think people "shouldn't" act as they did. Then argue until you understand why these reasons are unrealistic and not really justified.

Example: Let's say the carpenter sloppily built a kitchen cabinet for you in your new home. The doors were misaligned and didn't fit together. You feel resentful because you think this is "unfair." After all, you've already paid your wages, so you feel entitled to the best service from the most skilled craftsman. You get angry when you say to yourself, "That lazy dad has to be proud of his work. What time is this?" You list specific reasons and counter-arguments in Tables 7-6.

Table 7-6.
The reasons he should have worked more conscientiously Counter-arguments
1. Because I pay very well. 1. He is still paid the same whether he works more conscientiously or not.
2. Because doing a good job is the only right thing. 2. He must have felt he had done the job well. And in fact, he plays the flooring quite beautifully.
3. Because he needs to make sure that he gets the job done in a decent manner. 3. Why would he do that?
4. Because I would, if I were a carpenter. 4. But he is not me; He wasn't trying to meet my standards.
5. Because he needs to pay more attention to the efficiency of his work. 5. He has no reason to care at all. Some carpenters are very interested in their products, and others are just work.
6. Then why should I choose someone who does such a bad job? 6. All the home remodelers for you don't work badly. You can't expect 100% talented people. That's simply not realistic.

The basis for eliminating the "do, must do" mindset is simple: don't assume that you have the right to get what you want just because you want it. You need to negotiate. Call the carpenter, complain and insist that he fix you.

But don't double down on your frustration by adding to your frustration.

Negotiation strategies.

When you stop wasting your energy on being angry, you can focus your efforts on getting what you want. The following bargaining rules can work in such a situation:

1. Instead of scolding, praise him for the good things the carpenter did. Then, mention the problem of the kitchen cabinet door tactfully, and calmly explain why you want him to come back and fix that skewed door.

2. If he argues with you, placate him by agreeing with his opinion no matter how ridiculous his words are. This will make him shut up and stop attacking. Then immediately move on to the 3rd step.

3. Clarify your point again calmly and firmly.

Repeat these three methods over and over again in different combinations until the carpenter finally gives up or the two sides reach an agreement. The rule of thumb is to tactfully express your dissatisfaction with the results of his work. Avoid labeling him derogatory or implying that he is bad, evil, evil... If you decide to let him know your negative feelings, then do it objectively without exaggeration or the use of aggressive language. For example, saying something like, "I'm not content with a bad finished product when I feel you're capable of creating a professional and beautiful product" is much easier to hear than curse words.

In the dialogue below, I will illustrate each of the aforementioned methods.


I'm happy with a few finished products, and I wish I could tell everyone that I'm happy with the whole product. The flooring is especially beautiful. However, I was a little worried about the kitchen cabinet. (Praise)


Is there a problem with the kitchen cabinet?


The door was deflected, and many handles were bent.


Well, I can only do so much with those kitchen cabinets. It's mass-produced stuff that's not the best quality.


Well, that's right. It is not as good quality as other expensive ones. (Soothing method) However, quality like this is unacceptable, and I would appreciate it if you could do something to make it look better. (Clarify; tactful)


You have to talk to the producer or contractor. There was nothing I could do.


I understand his frustration, but it's his responsibility to finish this kitchen cabinet until we're satisfied. It looks so unsightly. I know this is inconvenient, but I mean you haven't finished the job yet and I won't pay until you fix it. (Ultimatum) I know you can correct it properly, although it will take time. That way, we will be completely satisfied with your work, and we can have a good response to you. (Praise)

Try these negotiation methods when there is a discord between you and someone. You'll find it more effective than getting angry, and often you'll get more of what you want.

Proper sympathy.

Sympathy is the best remedy for anger. It is the ultimate miracle and works in practice. When I speak of empathy, I don't mean the ability to empathize with others. So what is empathy? Empathy is the ability to accurately comprehend the thoughts and motivations of others. Then you'll understand and accept without anger why people act the way they do, even though you don't like their actions.

However, empathy is a difficult thing to achieve. As humans, we are trapped in our own awareness and react automatically to the meanings we assign to the actions of those around us. Understanding other people's thoughts takes a lot of effort, and most people don't know how to do that. Here's how.

For example, an entrepreneur must seek help because lately, he often gets angry and acts that hurt others.

When his family or staff didn't follow his orders, he would yell at them. He often threatens people around him and insults them.

But then he felt his rages end up getting him into trouble because he had a reputation as a brutal temper.

He recounted the gala dinner he attended, when the waiter forgot to light him wine. He was angry because he thought, "That waiter thinks I'm not important. Who does he think he is?"

I used the sympathetic method to show him that his tempered thoughts were irrational and unrealistic. I suggest doing role-playing. He played the waiter, and I played a friend. He tried to answer my questions as honestly as possible. The dialogue goes like this:

DAVID (as the waiter's friend): I see you don't light the gentleman's wine.

PATIENT (as waiter): Oh, yes, I didn't light him up.

DAVID: Why didn't you light him up for wine? You think he's not important?

PATIENT (mused for a moment): Ah, no, it's not. I don't really know much about him.

DAVID: But wasn't it because you thought he wasn't important that you didn't light him up?

PATIENT (laughs): That's not the case.

DAVID: Then why don't you light him up for wine?

PATIENT (thought for a moment): Well, I'm thinking about tonight's date. And I saw the beautiful girl across the table. Her short skirt distracted me and forgot about lighting the wine.

This role-playing helped my patient feel so much lighter, because putting himself in the waiter's shoes helped him see how unrealistic his interpretation was. When he gained sympathy, he understood that his anger was because of the misalignment of his perception, not because of the actions of the waiter.

The empathy method is also useful in case the other person intentionally hurts you. Melissa, 28, needed counselling during her separation from her husband, Howard. Five years ago, Melissa discovers Howard having an affair with Ann, the charming secretary who shares the building with him. Melissa is shocked, but the situation gets worse when Howard doesn't definitively end up with Ann, and so the affair lasts another 8 months. Throughout that period, Melissa felt humiliated and angry; this was the main reason Melissa came to the final decision to leave her husband. Her thoughts were as follows: (1) He has no right to behave like that. (2) He knows only himself. (3) This is unfair. (4) He's disgustingly terrible. (5) I must have failed.

During therapy, I asked Melissa to play Howard, then I confronted her to see if she could explain exactly why he was involved with Ann and behaved as he did.

She said that when she played the role, she suddenly understood Howard's point of view, and that she no longer resented her husband. After that therapy, she described the dramatic disappearance of the resentment that had dogged her for years:

I thought their affair was over, but I didn't expect him to keep seeing her and seem very passionate. This hurts me very much. I feel like Howard doesn't respect me at all, he just values himself. I felt if Howard really loved me, he wouldn't have done that to me. How could he keep seeing Ann when he knew it made me miserable? I was really angry with Howard and upset. When I tried the empathy method and played Howard, I understood "everything."

Suddenly, I saw things differently. When I imagined myself as Howard, I understood his point of view. Putting myself in his shoes, I saw the problem of loving his wife Melissa as well as his mistress Ann. I am well aware that Howard is stuck in a "don't know how to go the way" situation created by his thoughts and feelings.

He loved me but was so enamored with Ann that he couldn't help but meet her. He felt sorry for me but couldn't resist his urges. He felt he would lose if he lost Ann, and he would lose if he left me. He wasn't committed anyway, and it was his hesitation, not my weakness, that made him hesitate to make a decision.

That experience was a new discovery for me. For the first time, I really understood what had happened. I knew that Howard didn't mean to hurt me, but he couldn't help it. I feel better because I have seen and understood this. I talked to Howard about it and we both felt more comfortable.

The bottom line that angered Melissa was that she was afraid of losing her self-esteem. Although Howard didn't behave, it was the meaning she attributed to the experience that made her feel resentment and resentment. She had assumed that a "good wife" like her deserved a "happy marriage." This was the kind of reasoning that made her miserable:

Hypothesis: If we are a good wife, then our husband must be loving and faithful to us.

Reality: My husband is not loving and faithful.

Therefore, either he is not a good wife, or Howard is an unscrupulous bad guy because he is breaking his "rules".

The only problem with her solution is that (a) she doesn't really believe he's "a terrible guy"; (b) she didn't really want to give up on him because she loved him; and (c) her sour and frequent anger did not make her feel good, it did not seem good, and it pushed him further away from her.

Her assumption that he would love her when she was a good wife was a fairy tale. His change of heart was due to his misperception, not her weakness. Therefore, he was responsible for his dilemma, not her!


Unlike depression, which tends to be even and repetitive, anger is more spontaneous and sporadic. When you notice that you're upset, you may have lost control. The "mind rehearsal" technique helps you learn to overcome anger before actually experiencing the situation. You'll be prepared to deal with a situation when it actually happens.

List the "anger levels" and give them a rating of +1 (lowest) to +10 (highest) for the situations that make you most excitable, similar to the example in Table 7-7 below.

Table 7-7. Anger Level Breakdown
+1 – I have been in the restaurant for 15 minutes and no waiter has come to my table.
+2 – I call a friend who doesn't call me back.
+3 – A customer cancels an appointment at the last minute without explanation.
+4 – A customer canceled an appointment without even telling me.
+5 – Someone criticizes me badly.
+6 – A group of obnoxious minors line up right in front of me at the cinema.
+7 – I read in the newspaper about crazy abuses like rape, for example.
+8 – A customer refused to pay the bill for the items I had delivered, and he moved to another place where I could not collect the money.
+9 – Some rogue elements in the area have been smashing my mailbox in the middle of the night for several months now. There was nothing I could do to catch them or make them stop.
+10 – I watched the news on television about a group of people, likely a group of teenagers, who broke into the zoo at night, stoned birds and small animals to death and injured other animals.

Now, let's go back to this situation, but this time replace it with "calm thoughts"; Imagine that you respond to that situation skillfully, decisively, and effectively.

For example, in situation 1 in Tables 7-7, you might say to yourself, "The waiters don't seem to be paying attention to me. Maybe they're too busy and forget that they don't have a menu yet. There's no need to be angry about this." Next, imagine going to the restaurant manager and explaining the situation clearly as follows: subtly say you're waiting and if he explains that they're busy, placate him by agreeing that they're busy; then complimented him on the favorable business of the restaurant; and repeat the request to be better served in a firm but friendly way.

Finally, imagine he sends a waiter to apologize to you and compensate you with the restaurant's superior service. You feel happy and enjoy the meal.

Now, practice this version of the situation every night until you master and visualize how to respond effectively and calmly in that situation. This type of mental rehearsal will help you program how to react more firmly and comfortably when the situation happens to you again.

Naturally, you can also apply the rehearsal method in your mind to prepare for negative outcomes. Imagine you actually approach the waiter, and he behaves in a condescending manner and serves very badly. Now acknowledge your angry thoughts, replace them with calm thoughts, and create a new coping plan as you did before.

You can practice the same for the other situations in Tables 7-7 until you learn how to think, feel, and behave more calmly and effectively in the majority of provocative situations you encounter. Different provocative situations require different coping plans. You have the flexibility to choose between empathy, firmness, or changing your expectations.

Remember that the help of friends and colleagues in case you get stuck is valuable. They can see things clearly while you see dimly. Ask them how they think and behave in that situation that makes you feel depressed, hopeless, and exasperated. You will quickly learn many surprises if you are willing to consult with them.

10 things to know about anger

1. The events that happen in this world do not make you angry. You are angry because of your "angry thoughts". Even if there is indeed a negative event, it is the meaning you assign to the event that determines your internal emotional response.

2. For the most part, anger is not helpful to you. You'll feel more comfortable if you focus on actively looking for creative ways to reduce your chances of getting angry when you encounter a similar situation in the future. This attitude will eliminate some of the helplessness and frustration that gnaws at you whenever you feel unable to deal with a situation effectively.

3. The thoughts that make you angry are often false thoughts. Correcting these deviations will help you "cool down."

4. Ultimately, your anger is a consequence of the belief that someone is behaving unfairly, or that things are being unfair. The level of anger is directly proportional to the level of malice you feel and if you view the action as intentional.

5. If you learn to see the world through someone else's lens, you'll often be surprised to realize their actions aren't unfair from their point of view. It turns out that the injustice in this situation is an illusion that only exists in your mind! If you let go of the irrational notion that you and everyone else share the same views on truth, justice, and fairness, much of the resentment and disappointment will disappear.

6. Often people do not feel that they deserve to be punished by you. Therefore, retaliation does not help you achieve any positive goals in the relationship of both parties.

No one wants to be controlled or coerced. This is why positive praise is more effective than punishment.

7. Much of your anger comes from ruffling feathers to protect your self-esteem when people criticize you, disagree with you, or don't behave the way you want. That emotion is always irrelevant because your self-esteem is only lost when you have false and negative thoughts.

8. Disappointment is a consequence of unmet expectations. Because the event that disappoints you is part of "reality," it becomes "reality." Therefore, your disappointment is always a consequence of your own unrealistic expectations.

The simplest solution is to change expectations. Here are a few unrealistic expectations that cause disappointment:

If I want something (love, happiness, promotion, etc.) then I deserve it.

If I'm going to work for something, I have to succeed.

Others need to strive to achieve my standards and trust my view of "fairness."

I must be able to solve problems quickly and easily.

If I am a good wife, then my husband must love me.

- How I think and act, they should think and act the same.

If I am kind to others, then they must be kind to me in return.

9. It is childish to insist that you have a right to be angry. Of course you have rights! The important issue is whether feeling angry will benefit you. What do you benefit from this rage?

10. You don't have to be angry to be human. It's a mistake to assume that you'll be an emotionless robot when you're not angry.

In fact, when you let go of irritability, you'll feel happier, more joyful, more peaceful, and more productive. You will experience freedom and enlightenment.

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