Category Archives: Email Anger Program

Anger #04 The Triune Brain

 

MacQuarrie Email Program #04 — How We Function: The Triune Brain

angry04-thetriunebrainCommentary: A huge advance in knowledge of the brain has occurred in the past century; it is astounding what we have learned. However, at the same time, we have learned relatively little about the mind. An assumption of the modern neurosciences is that mind and brain are synonymous (a reflection of scientific materialism) — it is not an assumption with which I agree (nor do I agree with scientific materialism). But I don’t often know where to draw the distinctions, so I often use the term mind-brain when I am unclear.

The Triune Brain

One area that seems fairly clear is the concept of what is called the triune brain, referring to the layered structure of the brain, and the apparent layering of the mind. Simplistically, the mind-brain acts as a set of filters of incoming data. Think of sunglasses — they are a filter to reduce the glare of sunlight. They serve a purpose, but they also change what you see. Similarly the filtering aspect of the mind-brain serves a purpose, and distorts how you behave. (What follows is relatively simplistic, but accurate enough to be useful.)

The Filter of Safety

Neurologically, 99% of the data that you have been observing in the Now I Am Aware Of exercise of the last email enters the base areas of the mind-brain, the brain stem or Lizard Brain, where it is selectively scanned for your safety. If you not safe, you will immediately go into survival mode to protect yourself; this takes about 200 msec or 2/10th of a second. When in survival mode, the words that would be used to describe you might include serious, anxious, cold — it is from this level that you would violate others. In survival mode, others don’t matter! You are in action to defend your very existence.

The Filter of Life Energy (Emotion)

Most of the time this mode of survival is not necessary, so the incoming data advances through the Lizard Brain up to the Mammalian Brain (or Limbic System); the other 1% data (smell) goes here directly. Here the data is assessed (in about 300 msec) for whether the result will be pain or pleasure, pain or gain. It is at this level that most of our emotional experience develops:

  • pain may lead to some kind of moving against or away from, manifest as anger, fear, sadness, disgust, and other so-called negative emotions, or
  • pleasure/gain, with a movement towards, manifest as excitement, interest, enthusiasm, et cetera.

If the emotion is really intense, the information is processed at this level, and it appears in your awareness together with as the inability to think clearly. This is especially so with the emotions of powerlessness such as rage. Then, in an attempt to get back to a place of power, you may move into survival mode, and violate from a stance of righteous indignation.

In any event, information is sent back down to the lizard brain (the seat of all movement) for movement into action.

The Filter of Choice (Awareness)

Finally, if the experience is energetically less intense, the data rises still further to the cerebral cortices, the Human Brain, the seat of memory and language, the ability to “think,” and make choices. This requires about 400 msec of processing time. Almost all of this brain processing takes place at the other-than-conscious mind level, and seems to be under conscious choice, but like a pot of stew, what surfaces is only a small part of that actually present in the pot.

Again, information is sent back down for the initiation of movement into action.

Safety precedes Life Energy precedes Choice (S > E > C)

It is essential to recognize that this entire process is a bottom-up processor: safety is more important than life energy, which in turn is more important than choice. Consider, for example, what happens with New Year’s Eve resolutions — the vast majority fail. Why? Suppose you are a smoker, and you decide to stop New Year’s Eve. Almost certainly some part of you wants to smoke (derives pleasure from smoking), and you then attempt to impose the “choice” of not smoking onto that part of you than does want to continue. It doesn’t work! The emotional mind-brain is far more powerful than the human mind-brain.

If you really want to stop smoking, you need certain requirements:

  • Can you find an alternate way of satisfying the emotional system?
  • Can you have a goal of health (in a felt pleasurable sense) rather than a get-away from mode of not smoking?
  • Can you find ways to reward yourself, both intermittently (small pleasures to replace the momentary cigarette) and long-term (something desired to purchase with the money saved)?

All this and more will allow safety and pleasure to support choice, rather than conflict with choice.

Task for this email: Write down two or three instances when you have wanted to change something about your life, and have been unsuccessful. What happened? How did you attempt change? How did you deviate from the goal you set for yourself? Consider to what extent the ideas of safety, pleasure-pain and choice entered into your lack of success? Knowing all this, what could you have done differently.

Coming next: The Role of the Unconscious

Anger #03 Awareness and Discipline

PersonalGrowth1

The tasks in this post: the development of awareness (task #1) and discipline (task #2).

The work of change may seem massive, but really it’s just one step after another, and once you know the steps, you simply keep stepping (and find ways to keep yourself stable in the meantime).

However, it is easy to get into despair and/or overwhelm. What follows are primary skills, both for personal growth and for getting out of feeling overwhelmed.

Awareness

Awareness is “attention to my spontaneously emerging experience.” Awareness is NOT thinking — it is experiencing, noting what is actually happening, especially in my body. Fundamentally, I can be aware of three areas:

  • what is happening outside me (my so-called five senses),
  • what is happening within my body, and
  • third, the story I am creating as a result of these two ongoing experiences (generally what I call my thinking).

Awareness allows me to be present NOW, HERE! My story is usually about the past or the future — potentially useful, but not awareness, and not with any of the power of awareness.

Discipline

Discipline is “doing what I want to do, even when I don’t want to do it.” I want an outcome, and yah, it takes work to get it. Discipline is doing the work because I want the outcome, recognizing that often I don’t want to do the effort, but I do it anyway.

The skill is to make it easier. For example, I practice yoga. I enjoy it, I want the benefits, but often I don’t really feel like doing it. So my discipline is to do “two minutes of yoga.” Not much, eh! Well, every day, I do my two minutes of yoga, even when I don’t want to do it. And, by the end of two minutes, I often feel better; I like how I feel, so I do 45 minutes, because I like it. But, if at the end of two minutes I don’t like how I feel, I stop, and congratulate myself — I have kept my commitment. No self-criticism, ever.

Task(s)

For 20 consecutive minute each day for the next week, sit quietly and repeat the following: “Now I am aware of …” and name a body sensation. Don’t describe it, just name it (one or two words), and move on to the next sensation. “Now I am aware of … my fingers tingling … the coolness of my toes … the tension under my eyes …).

You will lose track. You will drift off into thoughts, day-dreams, etc. That is what the mind does. When you notice you have done so, gently come back to NIAA (now I am aware of …).

Commentary

As you get used to the process, lightly give attention to various components (mainly to sharpen your skill): external body sensations (what you feel at skin level), internal body sensations (those truly within), external sounds, internal sounds (including talking to yourself), external visual (with eyes open), internal visual (with eyes closed, including mental images). I say lightly, and I mean lightly — no one does this practice perfectly. The nature of the mind is that it wanders, and the discipline is to gently bring it back, without criticism of self.

If you will do this for 6 months, I guarantee you will change your life. This skill of awareness is subtle, and powerful. Essentially as you become aware of what you are actually doing, there will be occasions where you don’t like what you are doing. You will choose to stop, and you will change your life for the better, a little bit. The results accumulate over time, and eventually you are in a much better place.

In a later email when I describe the skill of knowing your own truths, I will say more about this. For now though, how do you know when you are speaking your truth, and how do you know when you are telling a lie.

Ideally, you will continue this practice of awareness for the rest of your life — because you want to! You may eventually change it to what is today called mindfulness practice or vipassana meditation, all just variations on a theme.

My personal choice is a vipassana retreat (I suggest 10 days) — largely because I can recommend such a retreat to anyone. Vipassana is a Buddhist practice, but as compared to other “religions,” Buddhism does not emphasize belief systems, only practice.

Vipassana also operates from a principle called dana — the teachings are free. If there are any changes for a retreat, they are minimal, and only to cover costs; sometimes the entire retreat (days to months) are free, and costs are covered by donation. If able, sign up for a retreat.

Coming next: How We Function — The Triune Brain

Anger #02 What Is Anger?

This is the second of my email anger program so that the program is not lost. It is a duplicate of a previous sampler post of 20160809.

angerface3
Anger is a masque of deeper issues.

This one is fairly long. Apologies.

To begin: Are you still reading your outcome title (Email #01), at least once a day? If yes, great. Congratulations. If not, that is the difficulty of discipline — you are not wrong, your behaviour is not wrong, but to the extent that you made a commitment, you did not keep your commitment. And people who do not keep commitments are much less likely to get outcomes that they want. Simple, yes; painful, yes! I did not say this program would be easy; I did suggest that it is effective. Please continue to read your outcome statement each day.

Task for this email: After reading this email, monitor your emotions for a few days (don’t attempt to change them, just monitor them). When you notice an obvious anger-based emotion, answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a sense of power? Can you move forward with it? If so, likely it is anger.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed? Is there an underlying powerlessness? If so, likely it is rage.
  • Do you feel indignant, determined “it” should not be. If so, likely it is self-righteousness.
  • Where in your body are you feeling this emotion.

What is anger? Most people know that they are emotional, but often they do not know what emotions are. Most people know when they are angry —  you, for example, wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t angry, but you do you know what anger is. In this email, we clean up some language. (Suggestion: if you will pay meticulous attention to your language for six months, I guarantee you will change your life for the better. More in another email.)

What are Emotions? There are many definitions, but my best definition of emotion is “a biologically adaptive action tendency.” What does that mean? Well, you are designed to respond to your environment, and when things change, you as a biologic organism adapt — usually very effectively! When something happens, you (your mind) processes what is happening, usually at the other-than-conscious level and with amazing speed. Your mind then sends a signal to your body to react, to move into action. The very beginning of the experience of action is the felt sense called emotion.

Another definition of emotion I use is “energy to which I give meaning and direction.” In the so-called pleasurable emotions, I move towards something — I am excited or interested. In the so-called negative emotions, I move against or away from — I am angry, afraid, sad, et cetera. Check it out: notice what you are feeling right now, give it a name, and point to where that feeling is in your body. (Don’t be surprised if you cannot do this — when I first started my own therapy work, I could not do so.) How or to where does this emotion want you to move?(Suppose you are hungry. Where in your body? To where do you want to move?)

So, what are feelings? Aren’t they emotions also? Sort of. Again many definitions, but I want to make a clean distinction. Examples of emotional words are: angry, excited, afraid, et cetera. Emotions point at my body, and can be described in a single word. Yes, they can refer to something else, but the felt sense is in the body, and can be pointed at. Feeling words point to my relationships: hostile (towards), included (with), ignored (by), etc. Again, one word, but they point outwards. There is usually an underlying emotion, but the feeling points outwards. Then, to make matters more confusing, there are also the feeling judgments — my thoughts about my emotions and feelings: I feel that … (finish with the thought, e.g., “this is wrong.”). There is an underlying emotion or feeling (unnamed), but the description is a thought, and always more than one word is required.

What is Anger? Anger is an emotion, one that shows that my beliefs have been disrupted, without my intention or permission. Suppose someone in a crowd pushes me — my mind processes this, says this should not be happening (a thought), and sends a signal to my body that I push back: I’m angry. But perhaps I don’t — I also know, perhaps unconsciously, that the consequences might be less than pleasant, so my mind send a second message, very quickly: Stop! Be cautious instead. Angry and afraid at the same time. Did I say emotions, especially anger, were simple?

Now, suppose the same crowd, only this time we are friends, and we playing football. If someone pushes me, will I be angry? Not likely — because it is expected and allowed as part of the game. Same actions, but different emotions, depending on my beliefs! Complicated, again.

What about rage? Think about your own rage. Rage is also an emotion, this time more complex. When angry, I feel powerful — I can do something with my anger. But in rage, I feel powerless; I’m overwhelmed, and I puff myself up so as to get back to a state of power. And I don’t think clearly — a dangerous combination. At this point, I am likely to violate others — to violate someone is a behavior — to restrict them without their permission, to hit them, to block them, to scare them, etc. Not fun — for anyone!

Note carefully! Emotions and feelings are not wrong, or bad; they simply are. They are the way in which my body gives me information, sometimes information that I do not want to recognize. They always have a positive intention — the “negative” ones usually to protect me, in some fashion. What is potentially inappropriate is what I do with my emotions. This behavioral response can certainly be dangerous, unacceptable to yourself or to others, and much else.

Safety: So, anger and rage can be dangerous, especially if we are unaware of the complexity of what is happening (we will be exploring this in detail over the next weeks). My bottom line is safety, for myself and others — always, and to the best of my ability.

I sum up safety with two statements: No SAD and STOP. No SAD means:

  • I will not intentionally Scare another human being,
  • I will not Attack another biological creature, and
  • I will not Destroy in anger that which I would not destroy when peaceful.

My experience, after 25 years of being a therapist (including as I resolved my own issues of anger) is that, if I stay within the parameters of No SAD, I can be fully expressive of my emotions, and both I and those around me are totally safe.

However, that does not mean that those around me will feel safe (more accurately, they do not feel secure) — my actions may still scare them — what I am doing may remind them of painful times in their own past. I do not intend to scare them, but that does not mean they are not scared.

STOP responds to this. STOP means that if I am told to stop, I stop immediately (no questions, no argument). Someone is scared — always inappropriate. Then I find another, safer way to deal with my anger. Usually this means I will take a time out  to briefly separate myself from others, and thus allow them to recover from their scare (more about time-outs later).

Coming next: Awareness and Discipline

Anger #01 Why Change? Personal Power

As indicated in the last post, I will gradually post my email anger program so that it is not lost. Although many people signed up initially, and feedback has been positive, there has been little in the way of continuing interest. Hence — this series of posts, one every few days until completion (30 emails) …

I will add additional posts between the series, with a page under Postings dedicated to the anger program for those who want to follow it without having to sort through other posts.

AngerBlowDown
Is this you? Is this how you want to be?

Why Change? Personal Power

Welcome again. Welcome to a program that can change your life.

I believe the above statement is absolutely true, partially because the tools I am offering are powerful, but more importantly because I trust the basic goodness of human beings. I believe in the principle that every human being is ALWAYS doing their absolute best at ALL times, and that when they are unhappy with their lives, what they need is not criticism but better resources, better skills to accomplish what they really need. Email me (dave.macq@icloud.com) if you do not believe me, and I will explain my rationale.

These first few emails (the first eight or so) will provide simple tasks, but more importantly will give you some concepts that I believe are very useful to your progress. Play with the ideas, and if questions, email me as above. But do not attempt to accomplish the 90-day program in two weeks — it doesn’t work that way. Many questions I will defer until a later email when the answer will become clear.

Also, be aware that, although this program is designed for anger management, almost all of it is applicable to every other emotional experience of your life. So, if you want to work on something else (low esteem, grief, et cetera), simply use your own word  any time you encounter an “anger” word.

So, your first task, your first skill development. Take out some paper, and answer these questions: Why are you taking this program? What are you wanting? And if you get this (i.e., what you want), what else will you get? And if you get this next piece, what will you get that is even more important? Expand your answers until you can go no further (either you cannot name anything more important, or you are cycling back into previous answers).

Now look at your answers, and see if you can answer these further questions about what you want. These questions are called the RPMS! of change. (I don’t expect that you will be able to answer them all — if you could, you would likely have what you want already.)

  • Is what I want realistic? (Can some one person, anyone, get this?)
  • Is it practical? (Can I myself get it?)
  • Is it measurable? (Do I have a way to know when I have it?)
  • Is it specific? (Do I know how to get it, the actions involved?)
  • !? (What is the first step for me to get it?)

Why are these questions important? Basically for two reasons:

  • these questions are the basis of effective outcomes, and
  • people who set goals (outcomes) are more effective in life than people who do not. The likelihood of you completing this program is higher if you set a goal for yourself.

Now, to complete this task for now, re-write what you want, using your above exploration.

What outcome do I want?

Give your description a two or three word title, and post the title (with or without the details) somewhere where you will read it every day: on the mirror where you brush your teeth, at the head of your bed, et cetera. Make a conscious choice that you will read it every day for the next five days, at least until you receive Email #2 of this series.

As part of the description, add a brief description of yourself, your self-esteem, your sense of personal power. I want you to be able to look back at this description each month and note how you shift in the next three months. Also, be sure to date when you write this goal. If you wish, you may show this information (and any subsequent information) to another person (your life partner, for example), but think carefully before you make that choice — do not set yourself up to be criticized or judged by another person.

My reflection of this process: I believe that every human being wants power. But power comes in two forms: it can be external power, wherein I dominate others, or personal power, wherein I influence others by my effectiveness as a human being. With personal power, I have a sense of aliveness, personal integrity, authentic relationships, and the ability to contribute. This form of power is available, but it takes skill development to achieve it. I trust that is why you are here.

The skill of anger management is the ability to turn your power of domination into personal power whereby you influence. The intention of this program is to honor your anger — it is a signal to you that something is wrong, something is happening that is inappropriate to your current situation. But your anger will not tell you what the problem is! It may be that there is something inappropriate with those around you, or it may be a warning to you that there is something inappropriate within your own beliefs.

Consider for a moment: Are you worthy of what you want? Do you deserve to get it? Do you deserve to be in charge of your anger? Honestly — you do not need to tell anyone else, just yourself. (I believe you are worthy, but do you? Many people don’t! And therefore, they don’t get what they want.)

If you are one of these people who hate yourselves, who are constantly criticizing yourself, Or perhaps you are constantly criticizing others, at least to yourself? (It is the same problem!) Explore how you learned this? Who told you? How did you learn this? And what gave these others the right to judge you in this way?

If applicable, I also invite you to put another sign along with your outcome statement:

God don’t make no junk!

(You don’t need to be religious — just recognize what it means! about you!)

Coming next: What is Anger?

What Is Anger?

MacQuarrie Email Program #02 — What Is Anger?

Note: This is a sample of my email anger management program.

If interested further, please access this link.

This email is fairly long. Apologies.

To begin: Are you still reading your outcome title (Email #01), at least once a day? If yes, great. Congratulations. If not, that is the difficulty of discipline — you are not wrong, your behaviour is not wrong, but to the extent that you made a commitment, you did not keep your commitment. And people who do not keep commitments are much less likely to get outcomes that they want. Simple, yes; painful, yes! I did not say this program would be easy; I did suggest that it is effective. Please continue to read your outcome statement each day.

Task for this email: After reading this email, monitor your emotions for a few days (don’t attempt to change them, just monitor them). When you notice an obvious anger-based emotion, answer the following questions:

  • Do you have a sense of power? Can you move forward with it? If so, likely it is anger.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed? Is there an underlying powerlessness? If so, likely it is rage.
  • Do you feel indignant, determined “it” should not be. If so, likely it is self-righteousness.
  • Where in your body are you feeling this emotion.

What is anger? Most people know that they are emotional, but often they do not know what emotions are. Most people know when they are angry —  you, for example, wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t angry, but you do you know what anger is. In this email, we clean up some language. (Suggestion: if you will pay meticulous attention to your language for six months, I guarantee you will change your life for the better. More in another email.)

What are Emotions? There are many definitions, but my best definition of emotion is “a biologically adaptive action tendency.” What does that mean? Well, you are designed to respond to your environment, and when things change, you as a biologic organism adapt — usually very effectively! When something happens, you (your mind) processes what is happening, usually at the other-than-conscious level and with amazing speed. Your mind then sends a signal to your body to react, to move into action. The very beginning of the experience of action is the felt sense called emotion.

Another definition of emotion I use is “energy to which I give meaning and direction.” In the so-called pleasurable emotions, I move towards something — I am excited or interested. In the so-called negative emotions, I move against or away from — I am angry, afraid, sad, et cetera. Check it out: notice what you are feeling right now, give it a name, and point to where that feeling is in your body. (Don’t be surprised if you cannot do this — when I first started my own therapy work, I could not do so.) How or to where does this emotion want you to move?(Suppose you are hungry. Where in your body? To where do you want to move?)

So, what are feelings? Aren’t they emotions also? Sort of. Again many definitions, but I want to make a clean distinction. Examples of emotional words are: angry, excited, afraid, et cetera. Emotions point at my body, and can be described in a single word. Yes, they can refer to something else, but the felt sense is in the body, and can be pointed at. Feeling words point to my relationships: hostile (towards), included (with), ignored (by), etc. Again, one word, but they point outwards. There is usually an underlying emotion, but the feeling points outwards. Then, to make matters more confusing, there are also the feeling judgments — my thoughts about my emotions and feelings: I feel that … (finish with the thought, e.g., “this is wrong.”). There is an underlying emotion or feeling (unnamed), but the description is a thought, and always more than one word is required.

What is Anger? Anger is an emotion, one that shows that my beliefs have been disrupted, without my intention or permission. Suppose someone in a crowd pushes me — my mind processes this, says this should not be happening (a thought), and sends a signal to my body that I push back: I’m angry. But perhaps I don’t — I also know, perhaps unconsciously, that the consequences might be less than pleasant, so my mind send a second message, very quickly: Stop! Be cautious instead. Angry and afraid at the same time. Did I say emotions, especially anger, were simple?

Now, suppose the same crowd, only this time we are friends, and we playing football. If someone pushes me, will I be angry? Not likely — because it is expected and allowed as part of the game. Same actions, but different emotions, depending on my beliefs! Complicated, again.

What about rage? Think about your own rage. Rage is also an emotion, this time more complex. When angry, I feel powerful — I can do something with my anger. But in rage, I feel powerless; I’m overwhelmed, and I puff myself up so as to get back to a state of power. And I don’t think clearly — a dangerous combination. At this point, I am likely to violate others — to violate someone is a behavior — to restrict them without their permission, to hit them, to block them, to scare them, etc. Not fun — for anyone!

Note carefully! Emotions and feelings are not wrong, or bad; they simply are. They are the way in which my body gives me information, sometimes information that I do not want to recognize. They always have a positive intention — the “negative” ones usually to protect me, in some fashion. What is potentially inappropriate is what I do with my emotions. This behavioral response can certainly be dangerous, unacceptable to yourself or to others, and much else.

Safety: So, anger and rage can be dangerous, especially if we are unaware of the complexity of what is happening (we will be exploring this in detail over the next weeks). My bottom line is safety, for myself and others — always, and to the best of my ability.

I sum up safety with two statements: No SAD and STOP. No SAD means:

  • I will not intentionally Scare another human being,
  • I will not Attack another biological creature, and
  • I will not Destroy in anger that which I would not destroy when peaceful.

My experience, after 25 years of being a therapist (including as I resolved my own issues of anger) is that, if I stay within the parameters of No SAD, I can be fully expressive of my emotions, and both I and those around me are totally safe.

However, that does not mean that those around me will feel safe (more accurately, they do not feel secure) — my actions may still scare them — what I am doing may remind them of painful times in their own past. I do not intend to scare them, but that does not mean they are not scared.

STOP responds to this. STOP means that if I am told to stop, I stop immediately (no questions, no argument). Someone is scared — always inappropriate. Then I find another, safer way to deal with my anger. Usually this means I will take a time out  to briefly separate myself from others, and thus allow them to recover from their scare (more about time-outs later).

Coming next: Awareness and Discipline

Emotional Management (especially Anger and Rage)

Emotional Management, especially Anger and Rage

(This program is currently posted to the blog and is no longer available as an email service; the posts are listed on the Headings line as  Postings > Anger Management > postings.)

I originally offers this set of posts as a free email program for anger management, but the information and tasks are suitable for any emotional issue. Simply use your own issue whenever anger is mentioned.

As part of my commitment to social change, I am offering a free email program on anger management. I believe that there is a huge amount of anger in our culture, some overt but most hidden. It is only by managing our own lives that we will be able to respond to the difficult days ahead.

Please sign me up: Angry? How to change your life in 90 days.

Please go to Postings > Anger Management for the complete series.

Hi.

Thanks for showing interest in the Angry? Change your life in 90 days program.

First of all, let me congratulate you for showing this interest. As I reflect on the state of our current world, I am surprized that so few people are willing to admit how angry they are. Recall all the stories of road rage, the frequent mass shootings, and other forms of anger — these are instances that show what is happening to us as a culture, of how angry we really are as a people. But it must be the other guy, right?

In my own case, I grew up in a family in which alcoholism was rampant, and for me, childhood was an extremely painful affair. (I suggest that anger is a major component of alcoholism; one of these days I will do a post on that to my blog.) Yet for most of my early adult life I was not aware of how angry I was. It was only when I got into my 40s that I was able to acknowledge this to myself. That is long past for me, although I do remain angry with the insanity of our culture — that has created (and for the most part currently denies) the issues of global warming. The major difference though is that I am not caught in my anger.

Be that as it may, this program is not about global warming. It is about how to work through your issues of anger, so as to achieve the kind of life you want to live:

  • how to recognize when you are angry,
  • how to be more peaceful, and
  • how to have better relationships, amongst other components.

And, as opposed to my usual writings, it is not about understanding anger, nor why you are angry — overall, that kind of understanding is the booby prize. This program, this set of emails, is about skill development, and what to do, not what to think.

The program will provide you with 30 emails over approximately 90 days, one email twice a week, usually Mondays and Thursdays. Why 90 days? Well, two of my previous mentors, both world-class therapists, indicated that change requires approximately three months of consistent application (one said three months, the other 13 weeks!) — after 25 years of practice in my own practice, this is also my own experience.

Can this really change your life, for the better? Absolutely. I am not saying that everything will be fine in 90 days; I am saying that in 90 days, you can be consistently moving in a new direction, one where the light at the end of the tunnel is not just another train.

Be aware it will take work, probably at least an hour a day, perhaps more. And it may bring up a lot of pain — after all, you are angry for many good reasons, and your anger likely protects you from this pain. But at the same time, I do not intend it to be too onerous — you won’t do it if it is. I strongly believe that people learn best when they are having fun; thus, I will do my best to keep it light. Still — it will require effort.

So, are you still interested? If you are, click the following link, and send me an email. I will then enrol you in your new life — and for the next 15 or so weeks, you will receive emails from me, emails that will give you relatively simple tasks, opening up new directions for your life journey. After all, what else do you have to do with your time besides becoming a better person.

Yes, please sign me up: Angry? How to change your life in 90 days.

Not sure? Check out a sample.

Please note that the emails will come with the following subject line: MacQuarrie Email Program #xx — Title, the ‘xx’ referring to the number and the ‘Title’ the topic of the particular email. Usually there will be a brief note, together with a read-only Word document for the topic — this file will be the main body of the lesson, as a Word document to allow easy printing. If needed, I can supply a pdf document instead.

Note also that, in these emails, there will be occasional attachments, and links to my blog. Mainly these will provide diagrams that I believe you will find useful in understanding the tasks (the diagrams will also be in the Word document), but the separate image files may be of some use to you also. Simple emails are not a good way of sending such information, so look out for them please.

The Blowing Out Process, Part 1

MacQuarrie Email #07 — The Blowing Out Process, Part 1

A time bomb needing release.
A time bomb needing release.

Two more emails (plus a summary email), and then we start the process of skill development as to how to explore and manage your anger. I hope by now you are starting to recognize that the concepts thus far allow you to get a handle on your anger, but I also imagine you want more specifics — coming!

As mentioned, the concepts of the previous emails became the process I call Blowing Out®, a method of utilizing unpleasant experience so as to create positive outcomes. For most people, when something unpleasant happens, they get stuck. The something reminds them of their past (their values, beliefs, memories, expectations, what I call their VBMEs), and they feel powerless. They label the something as some kind of conflict, and they don’t feel safe. Perhaps they are angry, or some such emotion, but lacking safety, they are also afraid or say to themselves, “I shouldn’t feel this way” — the sailors in action. So they stuff their energy — but eventually that doesn’t work, and they become a time bomb of some kind (the pressure cooker). This goes on over time, and eventually they explode outwards (family violation or social massacre) or inwards (depression or suicide). Not a pretty scene, but common in our society.

Create safety, then release in any way that works.
Create safety, then release in any way that works.

Safety for all is absolutely essential.

In my personal pain, I too recognized that this process of getting stuck did not work, and that the most important aspect was safety — for all! Instead of blowing up or blowing down, I discovered that I could blow out, like blowing out a candle — but instead of blowing out the light, I could blow out the darkness of my pain (the basis of my first book Blowing Out The Darkness).

We get stuck essentially because we mismanage our energy! First, because we are not safe (both with ourselves and with others around us), and second because we do not safely discharge our emotional energy — we generally dump it on someone else in some inappropriate fashion. We somehow believe that we have to resolve the conflict before we can manage our energy.

This is not only nonsense — it is also a recipe for disaster. We hold the energy inside ourselves; the conflict is outside. We can separate ourselves from the conflict, and manage our energy — in so doing, we can then decide if the basic issue is what others are doing (the conflict), or is it what we are doing to ourselves (our powerlessness) because we are caught in issues from our past.

Don’t take my word for this. Think about how you feel and act when you get to the edge of your rage. In some fashion, is this not how you act?

Task: So your task for this email is to think about what else you could do with your energy. And test out these possibilities; don’t just think — act! safely! Re-read Email #2 What is Anger? so as to really get No SAD and STOP. (You have probably noticed that all the tasks I assign are really focused on observing yourself — not for the purpose of self-criticism, but for recognition of how you actually create your own experiences. Over time, this will become your most important skill.)

Some hints: you can discharge energy silently, or you can make lots of noise. You can discharge privately, or you can do it in the presence of others. But if you are going to do it when others around, those others must agree to the parameters of No SAD and STOP — otherwise, they will not likely be secure and because of that, you will criticized! As such, it is very likely that you will shut down, and the time bomb scenario will resume.

The second most important aspect of Blowing Out is that the conflict must be resolved. Even if you discharge your energy, all that you will be doing is emptying the pot. It is essential that you then stop the pot from filling again.

My stance is that I can empty the pot in 10 minutes (I likely need another 10 minutes to process what happened that the pot was stirred — powerlessness or conflict?). Stopping the pot from filling again may take weeks or months of work — but I can keep the pot empty while I do this work! I need not stay stuck with a full pot — ever!

Coming next: The Blowing Out Process, Part 2.