In my last post we talked about the acronym ACE for dealing with anger. The first component of ACEing anger was Assessing. The “C” stands for Choosing. If a person decides that he or she is in a Personal Danger Zone, meaning that there is a clear sense of ensuing loss of control, becoming enraged, or feeling like there is a possibility of doing harm to someone else, some choices should be made immediately.
Choosing when you are in a Personal Danger Zone
Here are examples of healthy choices that are possible if someone is in a Personal Danger Zone:
- End your side of the conversation
- Walk away, leave the room, move away from the person or situation
- Refuse to continue discussing whatever aspect of the topic is leading down the out-of-control path
- Insist on stopping
- State firmly that you will deal with the situation at a later time
- Refuse to be goaded into continuing
Once someone has left the situation that triggered intense anger then a person can:
- Assess trigger thoughts, possible distortions, degrees of anger being felt at the moment, how he or she wants to apply and engage predetermined goals, values, beliefs and personal philosophy in this situation.
- Choose to apply relaxation techniques around breathing, visualizing being in control, maintaining composure and/or toning down the distortions.
Then one can Choose from options such as:
- Decide not to continue in the situation
- Decide to concede from a position of strength and understanding
- Decide to re-engage in the discussion (only with a mediator with a clear process)
- Write down or journal the account of the whole situation in clear, non-blaming language (facts) then include all the feelings, needs, values, concerns, wishes, expectations and goals.
Preventing harm to oneself and others
One can easily see , in these options I have laid out, that being in the Personal Danger Zone is a time to make choices to prevent harm to the angry person or the person toward whom the anger is directed.
- The choices often come in layers, causing assessing and choosing to occur simultaneously and then be repeated in different sequences.
What is important is that someone who is angry properly Assesses where he or she is in the process and then quickly move to Choices that will protect all the parties involved. Then, we can increase the possibility of preventing some of the relational or physical harm that is so prevalent with intense and rising anger.
More on choices in my next post.
Gerry Vassar, President and CEO, Lakeside Educational Network
Some information taken from Understanding Anger, 2004, Diane Wagenhals.